Kids at the Back to School-Back to Business event in Celebration enjoyed a game of catch with Buccaneer mascot Captain Fear
Training camp is about to begin for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, which means the Celebration Hotel will soon be invaded by 90 football players and assorted staff. The Buccaneer occupation begins on Sunday, but a handful of Tampa Bay players and cheerleaders headed up I-4 a few days early on Friday.
In order to show support for their soon-to-be adopted community, this Buccaneer contingent attended the annual Back to School–Back to Business event held at the Celebration High School Gymnasium. At the event, a group that included G Russ Hochstein, LB Shelton Quarles and Cheerleaders Catherine Croake, Jessica Deaseault, Dawnyale Foster, Angel Haywood, Kim Read and Kristin Turner joined the town of Celebration in ringing in the new school year.
According to Susan Brasfield, director of the Celebration school, the event is designed to create a close-knit community and get the school year off to a positive start.
"Back to School-Back to Business was started three years ago as an opportunity for the whole community to get together and celebrate the beginning of the school year," said the enthusiastic Brasfield. "Whether you think about it or not, in most towns the community schedule is the school schedule. This provides an opportunity for the kids to get all of their school supplies and gives the business, especially the new business, a chance to showcase their wares."
And that they did. The school's gymnasium was packed with realtors, banks, portrait studios, local charities, the sheriff's office and many other types of local business. In a scene reminiscent of an old style county fair, and townspeople mingled, chatted and inspected the vendors' booths. Outside, local eateries served up free and freshly cooked samples of their delicious treats.
Quarles, the Buccaneers veteran linebacker, was impressed by the sheer number of people in attendance at the event. "There's a lot of people out here today and it's fun to be around when everybody is this enthusiastic," he said.
Over 1,500 locals attended the event, for the vendors booths and the constant stream of entertainment, from local cheerleaders to dance teams to student ballet shows. The Bucs were another attraction, of course, speaking with fans about the upcoming camp and season and signing more than a few autographs.
"Orlando and Tampa are just a stone's throw away from each other and there are a lot of Bucs fans in Orlando," said Hochstein, the Buccaneers 2001 Community Rookie of the Year. "They're very supportive of us and we appreciate that. I've met some great kids. It's good to remember that you were once there and know that now you have an influence on these kids. You try to do what you can to be a good example."
While the players and cheerleaders mingled, Buc mascot Captain Fear took it upon his self to entertain the crowd with a variety of antics, then engaged in a spirited game of catch with some young fans. Ten-year old Dodge Williams of Celebration was impressed with Captain Fear and thrilled to meet some Quarles and Hochstein.
"I came out to meet some Buccaneers," said Williams. "And me and my friend were the first to get the autographs from the players, so it was cool and the mascot was pretty funny, too."
Williams wasn't the only one anticipating a positive impact by the Buccaneers in the town of Celebration. "We are really excited (to have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out here)," said Brasfield. "The whole community has been asking about the Buccaneers and I think after tonight it will be more real for all of the folks."
It was for thirteen year-old Cordero Young. "It was fun," said Young. "I got to meet the players and cheerleaders and that's why I came out here."
One assumes the student also found time to pick up some 'wares' and make the Back to School-Back to Business event a success. From the Bucs' standpoint, the afternoon in Celebration was a great way to begin a relationship with their new adopted home.