Over 105,000 fans were expected at the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Which meant the NHL had to bring them some cool stuff, from swag to fan activities; which also meant that the fans would find their own fun, braving the snow for tailgating at the Big House.
Or just walking around with giant bear heads. That too.
Check out some of the sights at the 2014 Winter Classic …
As you know, the NHL and the University of Michigan had to get a special license to sell booze at the Winter Classic. So, might as well make the most of it: Souvenir hot chocolate cups with a mini-bottle of Bailey’s for $16!
The pedestrian crossing were, as expected, a bit of a show. People waited upwards of 10 minutes so cars and buses could get through before the masses crossed over. Then the crosswalk looked about as organized as a market in Cairo, but it was actually effective.
People were geared up in a variety of ways for the game, including ski goggles
The tailgating for the game was plentiful despite the snow and cold. Of course some people just learned to combat both with a magic tarp.
Or they just played some snow hockey.
The best tailgate I saw had double grills, a full bar of booze and mixers, Wings and Leafs fans coexisting. Oh, and this was their fifth bottle of Fireball. Wowzer.
These guys obviously heard about the Sin Bin.
Inside the merchandise tents, there was a lot of swag for a lot of people waiting to purchase it. One of the greatest bits of Classic gear: RIP NORRIS. ($30)
The Winter Classic pucks went for $10.
And for $100, you could have your ticket turned into a giant poster that’s sent to your house. New, sorta cool.
Over in the fan fest area, which was bigger than any I’ve seen for the outdoor games, they had a Hall of Fame tent with some hockey history. What, you didn’t think they’d find a way to shoehorn Sid into this?
The great David Gunnarsson, hockey mask artist, appeared at the Advil tent, which is clever on all fronts. Here are a couple of Winter Classic masks.
People on stilts! Always a good time. High fives all around.
How does one get into the stilts pants business?
We love the little touches to make this stuff special. How many “shoot the puck” games at NHL events don’t have a chalkboard for the leaders on the day? Pretty cool.
The best booth? Panini handed out Winter Classic stickers that you could put on your jacket. Or a friend. Or a friend’s jacket. Or inside the urinal, we imagine.
The worst booth? Whatever this was.