Sunday, February 27, 2011
Posted: 5:21 p.m. Updated: 6:24 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
When he was in Los Angeles, Sean ODonnell attended the Kings' charity event held in the spring outside Nokia Theatre in tents as part of L.A. Live.
ODonnell knew about the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival, but always wondered what it was like indoors.
Now he knows.
Every place I have played weve done something like this, ODonnell said. But to be honest, I know when I was in L.A., Luc Robitaille, who ran the Kings version, told me that he spoke to Mary Ann Saleski quite a bit about Philly.
I dont know if it was because this is the most efficient one or generated the most money. But it seems a lot of teams contact Philly on how to do it. This is a pretty smooth operation.
Saleski is vice-president of the Comcast-Spectacor Foundation which oversees the event. One of her helpers, Laura Marie ODonnell, worked the event in Los Angeles, and was on the floor moving about the Flyers Carnival on Sunday.
The fan support has been unbelievable," Saleski said. "We were really pleased this year. As we were working on this years event the sponsor interest was so much higher. We had no idea that we were going to basically double our attendance from last year. This has been the largest attendance weve had at the Wells Fargo Center, and this just goes to show you that we really do have the greatest fans in the NHL.
Another successful Carnival - the 34th - went down on a spring-like day (10,000 were in attendance). Final proceeds wont be known for a while, but its likely another 1 million will be added to the all-time total of 23 million - most raised by any club in the NHL.
Another great year, said Flyers president Peter Luukko, scanning the crowds from the player entrance tunnel. What is special about the Carnival is no matter what our record, we always have a great turnout.
I think its the tradition of the organization. Our Flyer fans are a big part of the Flyer family. Theyre here to see the players. The year we had the worst record in the league, we had an unbelievable turnout.
Fans youd see, youd walk around and theyd be telling us not to worry about it, youre going to get better. They encouraged us. That is a bit of a phenomenon. That doesnt happen in many places. In New York, theyd throw eggs at you.
The veteran players were impressed, too.
I keep on getting amazed each year by how many people show up and how much bigger the carnival keeps on getting," Danny Briere said. "It is a great time and opportunity for us, the players, to see our fans from up close and personal and to spend a little time with them.
Back at the event, ODonnell was nestled in a suite signing autographs, then posing for pictures, then finally going on the covered ice to climb into the dunk tank and also take on kids in Wii boxing.
These fans have sports in their blood, ODonnell said. To come to meet us, it doesnt surprise me at the turnout ... this is the most thought-out, best planned Carnival Ive ever been to.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com
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