LB Ryan Nece (left) helped rookie RB Carnell Williams through Williams' first North Shore caroling experience
On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued a popular annual tradition when members of the Rookie Club, along with some veteran players, visited patients at All Children's Hospital and residents at North Shore Retirement Home. This marked the third consecutive year that Buccaneer players have spread holiday cheer with this particular pair of visits.
Rookies who made the trip included DT Anthony Bryant, LB Antoine Cash, S Claudius Osei, LB Barrett Ruud, WR Paris Warren and RB Carnell Williams. They were joined by such Buc veterans as FB Mike Alstott, TE Dave Moore and LB Ryan Nece.
The day began at All Children's Hospital where the players visited with the kids and gave each of them an autographed Buccaneer pennant. The sight of the big Bucs in their Santa hats roaming the halls lit up many young faces and gave the place a festive atmosphere for the morning. Each of the kids received a picture of themselves with the players and a wonderful memory to carry them through the holiday season.
"Any time we can put smiles on the kids' faces and get their minds off things for a little while, that's what it's all about," said Alstott.
Williams enjoyed the interaction with the kids at the hospital, too.
"It's such a blessing to be able to wish these kids well during the holidays," said Williams. "I love knowing that we've helped to brighten their day just by visiting with them for a couple of minutes."
The next stop was North Shore, where the residents were anxiously awaiting another performance by the renowned Buccaneer chorus.
The Buccaneers entered the recreation room at North Shore Retirement Home amid roaring applause and cheering, as residents knew their favorite Bucs planned to regale them with song. Nece, who originated the holiday visit to the retirement home during his rookie campaign and has participated in the event every year since, wished everyone happy holidays and asked them to join in the singing. The Buccaneers entertained the residents and staff members in attendance with renditions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Lois Anderson, a North Shore resident, is a big Bucs fan who was glad to see the players come to wish them a happy holiday.
"I think it's great they think of us old people and that we're worth singing for," said Anderson.
The players visited with the residents after caroling and gave them all Buccaneer pennants. Everyone cheered on the Bucs, and thanked them for brightening the holidays.
"This is a fun time to hang out with people who have a lot of wisdom and have lived life for a long time," said Nece. "To hang around them and see their joy and spirit during the holidays, you couldn't ask for a better situation."
For the Bucs, it was a day to spread holiday cheer and good will to those both young and young at heart.