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Travelers delighted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CANTON, OH – George Rusin from Plainville, CT said he, “loved the weekend and wouldn’t change a thing” when asked about his weekend visit to the 2010 Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement and was there to see Jerry Rice enshrined.

Throughout the three-day event, travelers had the opportunity to see this year’s enshrinees, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith at various events. Although Rice is popular, Smith received the longest and loudest applause whenever his name was mentioned or his face shown on huge screens. Dallas fans were everywhere. It didn’t hurt that the current Dallas Cowboys were playing the Cincinnati Bengals in a pre-season game.

Whatever you know or have heard about the detailed arrangements for big and important events, it’s infinitesimal compared to the details Jay Smith and Teresa Weybrew deal with in planning the annual pilgrimage for football fans of all ages. For 2011, with Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, Marshall “The Greatest Show on Turf” Faulk, Willie “Nasty” Roaf, Curtis “My Favorite” Martin, and Deion “Prime Time” Sanders as possible members of the Class of 2011, they know they are already making arrangements. Sports Travel and Tours assisted in bringing 2000 people to this years festivities. Sports fans who want a piece of the action know it’s time to reserve a spot with a fully refundable deposit on next year’s trip while space is available.

Sports Travel and Tours handle “Any Game, Any Place, Any Time!” and this annual August event is almost always a sell-out. They provide tickets, transportation, accommodations, autograph sessions, and a seat at the various functions (including the Gold Jacket Ceremony, Enshrinement and the Sunday night pre season football game). Clients can book any of several package options that started at $560 for Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday afternoon/evening events and went up to $1950 per person for the Ultimate VIP land packages which include seats at the Enshrinement with the family and friends as well as an exclusive autograph session with the incoming Class.

Although every aspect of the trip draws a “WOW” response, there were highlights. Monica of Santa Cruz , CA. says she was delighted with the Friday night private reception and after-hours admission to the Hall of Fame. About 800 people attended the private event compared to several thousand who crammed into the museum on Saturday and Sunday.

The two-hour Saturday morning Timken Grand parade up Cleveland Avenue features Hall of Famers, each riding on the back seat of a convertible, balloons, high-stepping high school marching bands, mounted horse patrols, floats, fire trucks, motorcycle units, military guards and local personalities. Rick of Norfolk, VA particularly liked the parade because the ticketed grandstand seats were close enough to call out a player’s name so he’d turn around and wave for a photo op. With an estimated 200,000 people in attendance, strangers became friends very quickly. Enthusiastic bystanders (and relatives of the people in the parade) shouted encouragement and when a balloon started to pass by, they’d shout, “Spin the balloon” and the rope holders would take the balloon for a 360 degreewaltz down the parade route.

Another WOW came during the luncheon that preceded the Round Table. Hundreds of people sit at round ten-top tables and the enshrinees walk through each of the dozen or so rooms to wave and say hello and be available for photos. Most were impressed with John Randle’s infectious smile, something his opponents probably didn’t see too often.

Eighty two year old Richard from San Jose, CA said he’d promised himself that when Jerry Rice was in the class, he’d attend the event. “This was the best trip ever” said Carey from Woodland, CA.

As a half dozen staff members start work on next year’s enshrinement, others are preparing for the upcoming U. S. Tennis Open in New York and the college basketball playoffs and the baseball World Series. They’re also working with military reunion groups to provide trips to the Reno Air Races, each September.

“It was an awesome trip and worth the cost five times over!,” said, Christopher from Erie, PA.

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