Packers 'Bike Brigade' one of the most beloved training camp traditions
Story By Lyndsey Stemm
GREEN BAY - Of all the traditions that make the Packers franchise special for fans, one activity stands out as one of the most unique in the NFL. And it's thanks to some of the players youngest fans.
Day one of training camp kicked off today... Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm takes us to the Bike Brigade.
Training camp is much the same for all NFL teams: weeks of grueling practice in the summer heat; players showing off what they've built on during the offseason; it's where starters are made and jobs are earned. But in Green Bay it all starts on teeny... tiny... bikes.
"We were way over there by the Oneida Nation gate and there was like this open area where all the Packers came out. And we just stood there with our bikes. And you could ask all the Packers to ride on your bike," says Jason Yaeso, from Shawano.
"Getting picked out of everyone else here; I think that's just a rush of adrenaline," says Jonathan O'Connell, from Suamico.
Legend has it nearly fifty years ago Vince Lombardi saw some of his players riding local kids bikes out to the practice field. He decided it should be a daily training camp ritual to help players connect with fans. And in true Packer form, connect with fans they did... and have been doing ever since.
"The kids really like it. They get to be with some of their favorite football players; riding bikes with them. I think it's a great tradition. I'd never seen anything like it when I came in as a rookie," says Bryan Bulaga, Packers Offensive Tackle.
They lined up by the dozens this morning to taxi the men in green and gold to practice.
"I got number 69 to ride my bike, and I think his name was Brian. And we talked about how old I was," says Madison Fellons, from Winchester.
"(We talked about) how I play baseball and football and basketball," says Ethan Sauer, from Green Bay.
"I had M.D. Jennings ride my bike because he rides my bike every day, because he's my permanent rider," says Callie Vanlaanen, from Ashwaubenon.
Some players pick new kids every time. But some form a bond that first time and become permanent bike buddies.
"I just raised my hand and he picked me," says Vanlaanen.
The hilarity of seeing a grown man on a bike with training wheels has never gotten old. But some players operate on the theory that the bigger the man, the tinier, and pinker the bike.
"It's tough for anybody to ride a bike like that. I think I saw James Starks with a bike like that and he just had the little girl ride it and he walked next to her. I think I had one of those my rookie year too," says Bulaga.
No matter the size of the player, the kid, or the bike, this tradition gives the teams youngest fans an experience they'll remember forever.
"We get to see Packer players in person and not on a TV screen," says Sauer.
"It's pretty cool. I get a Packer to ride my bike every day," says Vanlaanen.
MADISON - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is conducting research on foxes and coyotes in hopes of learning how the animals and humans can peacefully coexist.
Forest and wildlife associate professor David Drake and his students are humanely trapping the animals, running tests, then fitting them with tracking devices. The goal is to learn about traveling patterns, diseases the animals might have, and how they interact with other animals and humans.
Drake says foxes and coyotes are moving into areas where people are living. And if that continues, and the animals lose their fear of humans, they could become aggressive in extreme cases.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says residents should stay a safe distance from foxes or coyotes, and shouldn't feed them.
MILWAUKEE - A winter storm warning will go into effect in the Milwaukee area and far southern Wisconsin on Saturday night â€" and the National Weather Service says as much as 10 inches of snow could fall in Kenosha County by early Monday.
Snow is forecast to begin falling late Saturday and continue all day Sunday. Lake-effect snow is expected to combine with a low pressure system from the south to drive up snowfall totals in far southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee could see up to 9 inches.
Blowing and drifting snow is expected and winds could gust to over 30 mph, making travel dangerous.
Other parts of the state, including Sheboygan, Dodge, and Waukesha counties, will be under a winter weather advisory starting Saturday night. Snow accumulations could reach 4 to 7 inches.
WAUSAU - Enrollment for health coverage will end soon. That's why healthcare providers participated in "Super Saturday".
Bridge Clinic in Wausau welcomed people to sign up for health insurance options Saturday.
The Open Enrollment deadline is February 15th. If you don't sign up before then, it could cost you $325 or more depending on your income.
"We recommend just make an informed choice. Don't just let it lapse and get the penalty, be surprised with a penalty later on. Come in, make an informed choice. There are health care options," said Bridge Community Health Clinic Executive Director Laura Scudiere.
PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.
Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.
The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.
NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.
The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.
NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.
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