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Packers 'Bike Brigade' one of the most beloved training camp traditionsSubmitted: 07/26/2013
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.



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Food trucks roam the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 05/05/2016

NORTHWOODS - When you go out to eat, you usually think of typical brick and mortar restaurants, but a few local businesses might be turning the tide right here in the Northwoods just by working out of a truck.

"It's actually a growing community," says Chumpot Ratanawong, owner and operator of the Hanuman Express food truck. "It's nice because we talk to each other, we bounce ideas off each other."

You might see them on street corners or in other business's parking lots.

But one thing's for sure: you're going to get a delicious, made-from-scratch meal from passionate people like Ratanawong.

"I was in Chicago," says Ratanawong. "I was working an advertising job, and I just kind of got sick of that world. I've always loved cooking, so even when I was working that other job, I was always cooking and having Sunday dinners and that kind of thing, so I kind of just translated that into my food truck, because that's what I really love to do."

There aren't many places to get Thai food in northcentral Wisconsin, which makes the Hanuman Express that much more unique.

"I've always grown up with Thai food," says Ratanawong. "I've learned a lot from my mother, because she's a great cook. I've also kind of experimented on my own as well."

Those experiments turn into some of the best foods on the menu, and that's good, considering the lines can run as long as the truck itself.

"The main thing is just being prepared for it," says Ratanawong. "Sometimes we over-prepare, sometimes we under-prepare, depending on whatever. But we like to be ready for the crowds that come, and the better prepared we are, the better we're able to handle the long lines."

Though the work might be tougher, being in a food truck makes it well worth it.

"It's easier in the fact that there's less overhead," says Ratanawong. "You don't have to pay as much staff, I guess. So the costs of actually running it are better. Plus the advantage is that, they always talk about location being key. Well, if you're in a food truck, if you're in a bad spot, then you just move. It's as easy as that."

One food truck that seems to have found their perfect spot is Lola's Lunchbox in Phillips.

Settled into the parking lot of the R-Store gas station, they're now a staple in the small town.

"We started four years ago actually, with seven items on our menu, and three of them were dessert," says Lola's Co-Owner Mitch Adams. "It just kind of grew from there. We found a niche. We decided that we were going to cook the food that we liked."

Mitch and Stephanie Adams moved back to Phillips to be closer to family.

Steph had always been a great cook, and the two decided to give the business a shot.

"We kind of knew it was a coming trend," says Adams. "We didn't know how it was going to work in a small town, but we jumped in, and we've been able to make it work."

Lola's got started with what they call 'stacker' meat " a combination of pulled beef and pork, but it's their signature garlic smashies that bring the people in droves.

"I don't even really know how that started," says Adams. "We don't deep fry anything in here, just because it's so small and tight, but people kept asking for sides, so [Steph] did the potatoes. She said 'I think I can do this. I'll just smash them on the grill.' She hard-boils them, smashes them on the grill, and bastes them in garlic butter. We started serving those, and then pretty soon, 'Hey I want those potato things,' you know."

Don't think for one second that just because these food trucks are in northern Wisconsin that they're not open year round, because they are. As it turns out, they might actually be more popular during the winter time.

"We set up a couple of days during the winter, the first big snowstorm we set up," says Adams. "We set up before it was snowing, it started snowing like crazy. I was ready to go home, [Steph] said 'just wait.' And that was our busiest day to date with all the people, the Northwoods people coming out in the snow. They didn't care. I had a line out front, just making food."

It just proves that people anywhere will turn out to get a great meal close to home.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/05/2016

- People gathered all across the nation to offer prayers for a number of different causes, including a few dozen in Rhinelander. We'll share their message and hope for prayer in the open tonight at 5, 6 and 10.

Plus, we will tell you about new federal rules now in place that regulate e-cigarettes.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - At a young age many of us dreamed about becoming pro athletes, rock stars, or to act. But, earlier today, kids in Rhinelander got to check out some other careers and the vehicles they use.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Food Pantry recently received a generous donation from the Northwood Turners.

" The food pantry has just been a great boom to this area and it was needed for such a long time and now they are doing really great," says Northwood Carvers President Bill Kingsbury.

This group of 50 or so wood turners used their talents to create wooden bowls that were used as part of a fundraising event for the pantry.

"Our club made a total of 110 bowls," explaines Kingsbury.

This isn't the first time the club has stepped up.

The club also designed and turned pins for the Honor Flight.

Turning wood is an art form and starts by selecting the right tree.

Kingsbury says that he likes to turn them when they are green or fresh cut. When they dry out it is sometimes like cutting concrete.

There are a few rules to follow and decisions to make like deciding if you want the bark on or off.
"If you want the bark on the normal rule is if the tree is cut when the sap is not flowing the bark will stay on," says Kingsbury.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Before Thursday, e-cigarette companies didn't need to follow any federal regulations. But now, the Food and Drug Administration will regulate e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs.

That means people under 18 will no longer be able to buy those products.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The tree killing Emerald Ash Borer spreads to another northern Wisconsin community.

The DNR confirmed yesterday the invasive pest has now been found in Wisconsin Rapids.

It's the first time Emerald Ash Borer has turned up in Wood County.

A test was done on a sample collected near the intersection of Lincoln Street and East Riverview Expressway on April 27th.

Evidence of the infestation has also been found in other nearby trees.

Wood County was already in the process of being quarantined as a result of the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in Stevens Point.

That means businesses handing wood products that COULD carry the Emerald Ash Borer must work to ensure their products are pest free.

Moving firewood from place to place is one way the pest gets to new areas.

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MADISON - Democrat Russ Feingold has launched an attack ad against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson related to problems at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Tomah.

The spot released Thursday comes after a conservative outside group began a $2 million ad buy targeting Feingold on the same issue.

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