Today was the busiest day for Trojan Candy in Dallas. My husband Jim and I were very anxious to see an old friend whom we haven't seen for nearly twenty years! We, along with Patti and Dudley, arrived at the AT&T Stadium at 9:00 a.m. After checking in at the lobby and receiving "Texas" size name tags, we waited for our friend Paul Turner. Jim and I first met Paul in August 1993 when he became the House Manager of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Jim and I have been volunteering at the CCPA since January 1993 when Frank Sinatra opened our theater. Now, Paul is the Events and Operations Manager of the entire AT&T Stadium.
He walked toward us with his big smile. Paul looked just the same as I remembered him, except minus his mustache. After hugs, Paul started taking the four of us on a private tour. He took us into the stadium first, entering on the north visitor's side. Trojan Candy noticed first the enormous windows at the west and east ends of the building. There were no goal posts up. Paul explained to us that the turf had to be changed from their Dallas Cowboy's game last night to a collegiate turf for our game versus Alabama tomorrow night. The hash marks are 40 feet apart for college and 18.5 feet apart for professional football. What a massive overhaul!
Next, Paul pointed out the Owner's Box across the stadium (see below). This is the 50 yard line enclosed box where Jerry Jones gets to view the games. Paul told us that behind the Owner's Box there is a 3,000 sq. ft. luxury suite for the Jones family to relax in and view the game. Amazing!
On second level, the Hall of Fame Level, Paul walked us into suite HF251 which belonged to The Brierley Group. Each Hall of Fame suite has HDTVs, a full bar/kitchen, inside den area for seating, an outside seating area, a private restroom, and VIP parking. Each suite can accommodate up to 40 people. Wow!
Paul, THANK YOU for our private tour!
It turns out that Paul had to make an important phone call at 11:00 a.m. So, he finished our private tour in time for us to drive to the USC Pep Rally in downtown Dallas.
Luckily, the traffic from Arlington to downtown Dallas was light. We parked our car in the same cheap parking lot at Union Station and caught a free D-Link bus to Klyde Warren Park. There was so much traffic around the park that our bus driver advised us to get off the bus a block early and walk to the park. We still arrived before the rally started. It was so hot and humid!
In the park, Trojan Candy saw several familiar USC faces among the hundreds in attendance, as I always do. The first friends were Karen Trust and Anita Ybarra. They must have arrived very early since they had a space in the shade. I took this picture of them with their friends. Dudley and Patti Poon, Anita Ybarra, Karen Trust, Artie Boy Ybarra, Eddie and CoCo Saldibar, and Elena and Joe Cardenas.
Nearby, I saw some new friends whom I had met at LAX. We had been in line waiting to board our Southwest Airlines plane. I gave Karin Yamamoto my Trojan Candy card. Now, at the rally, Karin told me that she and her family had checked out my blog. Surprised, I thanked them and took their picture. Roy, Karin, and Nolan Yamamoto, Elaine Kan, Wally Arakawa, and Oscar Okuda.
As I walked away from the stage to find a location to take pictures and videos, I saw a very good friend that I see at away games and at Monday Morning Quarterback. Richard Flores introduced me to his friends Sal and Alyssa. Here is the picture I took of Sal, Alyssa, Richard and his dad Marciano Flores.
Then, I heard the drums in the distance. The Spirit of Troy was coming. I ran to a spot where they were entering, but I was too close. Luckily, my husband Jim took this video of the Spirit of Troy marching into the pep rally on his iPhone.
I quickly moved to the front border line where many spectators, who followed the band into the park, had already sat down. I sneaked in to the second row and kneeled down next to and behind good friend Dan Avila. Dan was the official USC photographer for the rally. Believe me, it was so hot and humid. I was fortunate to be somewhat shaded by spectators standing behind me. How can the band members in their wool band uniforms stand the heat and humidity?
The USC crowd dispersed very quickly because of the heat. Pat, Dudley, Jim and I met across the street.
Patti, Dudley, Jim and I took a break from the heat and walked into the air conditioned Dallas Art Museum. The Spirit of Troy members were taking a break there too. They toured the museum.
After we cooled off some, we caught the D-Link bus back to our car and then walked to the USC Headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Hotel via an air conditioned underground tunnel underneath the railroad tracks.
At the Hyatt Regency we went upstairs to the USC Alumni Association Weekender Central.
Valerie told us that she is going to be on the new USC football poster. Fantastic, Valerie!
After we said goodbye to Valerie and Judy, the four of us walked back through the air conditioned underground tunnel to the D-Link bus stop.
We were headed to the historic Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas to attend the "On the Road with the Spirit of Troy" Reception. It would feature a concert and a special multimedia presentation on the history of the Spirit of Troy's support of the football team at stadiums around the country.
The Adolphus Grand Ballroom was already jammed packed for the Spirit of Troy Reception. Luckily, we were able to find four seats at the end of a row. As usual, Trojan Candy walked around the room taking pictures. I saw Michael Donovan III with some friends first. Mike Low, Michael, Kevin Merickel, Sara Merz, and Jeff Merickel.
Sitting with a row of friends was a Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts friend and fellow volunteer usher Charlene Strawbridge. Charlene's daughter is a Spirit of Troy Twirler alumna. I took this picture of her with her friends. Coby and Christine Ginsberg, Dana Pechar, Barbara Van Dyk, and Charlene.