"This is something that we've looked forward to for quite a while," said Nancy Riley of Bourbonnais. "It's great that the kids have an opportunity to get autographs and to see the players at close range. I suspect that many of the youngsters here tonight play football in school. This should give them even more enthusiasm for the game."
It seemed that many area families shared Riley's view of things as the stands at Olivet Nazarene's Ward Field were packet with parents and children ranging in age from infants to teenagers. Many there wore jerseys in support of a favorite player, with those of Urlacher and Grossman in the majority.
Tom Roselle and Bobby McGee, eighth graders from Elmhurst, came to Bourbonnais for two days to watch the players in action. Roselle, who plays cornerback, was particularly interested in watching R.W. McQuarters.
"He isn't playing as much as I'd like," Roselle said. "But that's okay. I'm still learning a lot. I can watch (Charles) Tillman, too. He always seems to have some good moves."
Jack and Dixie Savoree from Watseka visited camp several times last year and were looking forward to a number of trips to Bourbonnais this season as well.
"I always seem to find an excuse to be in this area on business when the Bears are in town," Jack said. "I like the new tempo this year. It is very different from what we've seen from the team in t he past. The coaches seem to be headed in the right direction. To me, the players seem to be working harder and being more productive than what I've seen in t he past."
Crowds started gathering for the 7 p.m. event hours ahead of time. Many gravitated to the stadium area to listen to live music and to find a choice spot for the evening's festivities. By the start of practice Olivet's stadium and parking lots were filled to capacity with the overflow of spectators lining the fences surrounding the field. An appearance by mascot Staley the Bear was a definite crowd pleaser as was the post practice fireworks show.
Ward Jackson of Morton Grove summed up the event.
"It was the perfect summer evening with moderate temperatures, a beautiful full moon, a lively crowd and some great football plays. For Bears fans, it doesn't get much better than this."