One of the many benefits to being a Pelicans season ticket holder (STH) is being invited to the annual appreciation day. Last year, it was held at the Arena and we were treated to lots of games, tours and opportunities to meet with players. This year, it was held at the Saints/Pelicans practice facility so we got another peek behind the scenes, this time focusing on the daily life and preparation of our players.
Within 5 minutes of arriving, I spun a wheel for people who’d already renewed their tickets and won a ball signed by the whole team! Many people (apparently including Saints legend Steve Gleason) spent an hour waiting for autographs but we were suddenly free to enjoy all the other activities. We’d already seen the Saints training facility where many of the events were held so we joined a tour headed to the Pelicans training facilities.
Recently renovated, it was both beautiful and practical. The best part was easily the locker room where the Pels spend much of their time and had left shoes and clothes strewn around like they’d just left. It was explained that coaches, etc. aren’t allowed in the room so I felt like we were wandering their sanctuary. There was a barber chair Anthony Davis had put in and the sinks and fixtures were all set a foot or so higher than average. Having spent lots of my life stooping, I kinda loved that.
We watched game tapes in the cushy chairs of the viewing room while kids played ball with Ajinca, Asik and Motiejunas. All around 7 feet tall, they towered over the eager children. Back at the Saints facility, I got my photo taken with Hill and Galloway, both of whom made my 5’10” frame look short as well. We were treated to nachos and decorated sugar cookies and Q&A’s with team members. Fan favorite Anthony Davis kept things light and funny along with Frazier and Jones then Cunningham and Evans had the world’s worst dance-off to everyone’s delight. There are plenty of reasons to be a STH including the free beer and snacks before games, but STH Appreciation Day proved to be a highlight again.
On our way to Sunday’s game, we stopped by the King Cake Festival. King Cakes are traditional fare between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras day. Each cake contains a tiny baby (it used to be a bean back-in-the-day) and traditionally, whoever gets the baby provides the next cake. Every sports team has a mascot and the Pelicans have Pierre the Pelican, but during Carnival season, the King Cake Baby joins the festivities. Voted the #1 most terrifying mascot in the U.S. in all sports, King Cake Baby is admittedly scary-as-heck. But he grows on you.
We arrived early enough to get one of the free King Cake Baby bobbleheads the team was giving away. I couldn’t resist opening it at the Arena and taking a peek. As I was posing for a photo with my prize, King Cake Baby walked past! We caught up with him and found he was posing for photos. I couldn’t resist. And still in a participatory mood from the day before, I even sat for a caricature portrait. Turns out there’s plenty of fun, free things at the games for STH’s and regular patrons alike. I keep finding new ones.