Clearing Lambeau â€“ nice work if you can get it
GREEN BAY, Wis. — For $10 an hour Friday morning, Green Bay Packers fans were given an opportunity to shovel snow at Lambeau Field to help clear the stands of 5-plus inches of snow before the team's home playoff game Sunday against the New York Giants.
But even with 450 shovels ready to be handed out starting at 10 a.m., the Packers simply did not have enough to go around.
About 1,200 people showed up, according to Packers facilities manager Todd Edlebeck, with 750 unable to make it inside.
"People were lined up already at 4:30 (a.m.) when we got here to plow the parking lot," Edlebeck said, adding that it was the team's biggest turnout ever for such an event. "A lot of people, a lot of excitement."
The line to get in wrapped around the stadium by 8 a.m, and those who arrived after that time were not among the first 450. However, they did not find out until 10:50 a.m. that they would not be getting in. An announcement was made that the shovels were gone and no more help was needed.
"I think it would've been cool just to say that you shoveled at Lambeau," said Jake Wszelaki, 20, who drove an hour from Wausaukee, Wis., with two friends only to be turned away at the gate after waiting outside for more than two hours. "I didn't really care about the money."
Also disappointed was Nelson Cox, a retired fan hoping to walk — and shovel — the stands so few Packers fans get to sit in regularly.
"I think this lady (handing out the shovels) just didn't have any heart at all," he said.
Edlebeck predicted that those who did make it inside would need about four hours to shovel the snow and one additional hour to salt the steps.
"We'll get some that will just shovel for a few hours to say they did it, but most of the people stay around," Edlebeck said.
Fans young and old made it inside to shovel their beloved Lambeau Field, although no one under 15 was allowed.
One father-and-son duo — Doug Hughes and 16-year-old Hunter — decided to make the effort to get in because they had never been to a Packers game.
"He'd seen (the shoveling opportunity) on TV, and he said, 'Dad, I want to go,' " Doug Hughes said. "It's not so much about the money. It's just about being here. We're taking a bunch of pictures and having a good time. It's real cool."
They arrived just before 7 a.m., with Hunter taking the morning off from school to get his first glimpse of Lambeau Field with his father.
"When I saw the field, it was really small. But on the TV, it's like really big," Hunter Hughes said, his dad adding that his son's grades in school are up, which led to the green light to shovel.
With temperatures below 20 degrees all morning, many of the fans who made it inside would be out in the cold for as long as 10 hours. Green Bay received 5-6 inches of snow overnight, with less than 48 hours remaining before the Packers' playoff game.
After clearing each row of snow per section, fans then set up a chute from the top row of the stadium down to the field. From there, trucks awaited to haul away the snow. Upon finishing snow removal from each section, fans carried the chute to the next area and resumed shoveling.
Eric Frank, a 22-year-old UW-Platteville student, was one of the final fans to receive a shovel.
"I told my buddy I was coming here, and he said, 'Do they pay you for that? You've got to be kidding,' " Frank said. "I was like, 'Yeah, they pay us, but I'd do it just for the experience.' I'd do it for free."
Unlike Doug Hughes and his son, Frank's motivation was not to be inside Lambeau Field for the first time.
"I've been to enough games where the stadium is just a stadium, but just doing something for the stadium, feeling like you've got a part in it, that's the coolest part," Frank said.
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