June 7, 2015
By Barbara Cossman
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A crowd of approximately 4,500 people took advantage of a beautiful June day and evening to come together and watch "Remember the Titans" from the cozy confines of Michigan Stadium on Saturday night (June 6). They came from near and far, ranging from infants to senior citizens, Michigan fans to one fan donning an Ohio State sweatshirt, from experienced Big House veterans to newcomers. And all of them wore big smiles. What's not to be happy about watching a classic movie -- that happens to be about football -- from a classic stadium?
The event, which was open to the public and free of charge, included stadium locker room tours for season ticket holders, and there were bounce houses and games on the west-side concourse for children. Concessions were available both on the concourse and down around the field. There were face-painters, and Michigan student-athletes from men's gymnastics, women's basketball, volleyball and field hockey helped facilitate a fun time for all.
"I had some friends who came to it (movie night) last year and said it was a good experience, friends who don't even go to school here," explained Michael Strathern, who will be a fifth-year senior team captain for men's gymnastics in the coming year. "So when they asked our team if we'd be interested in helping out I said it would be a great idea. There are about 10-11 gymnasts here, and they just asked us to chat with the public, make sure they're having fun, sign some autographs if they want."
The Jominy family from Kalamazoo packed up the car with their four kids and the grandparents for the 1.5-hour trip to Ann Arbor. Kami Jominy and her husband Brandon, both Michigan graduates, are season ticket holders, though typically it's Brandon, his father-in-law Brian Shelton, and the kids who go to games. But tonight, everyone was able to join in on the fun. From playing football on the stadium field to hanging out at the bounce houses, they certainly packed in a lot before the proverbial curtains opened at 7 p.m.
When asked which movie they voted for, despite having four kids under the age of 7 -- Kaden, Nolan, Reese and Cooper -- they revealed a surprising vote for "Remember the Titans," because well, "we've seen 'Frozen' about 40 times," Brandon smiled.
For some, Saturday felt like a typical fall game day in Ann Arbor, replete with tailgates and maize and blue paraphernalia. With nearly a front row seat to the Michigan Stadium tunnel, Roberta Burdette of Plymouth, Michigan, and her entourage (above) arrived around 3 p.m. to enjoy the weather and atmosphere.
It was like a bonus day for the families who typically gather for a handful of fall afternoons. Joining her were long-time friends the Joseys and Millimans, plus families of a couple U-M football players.
"We met the Joseys and Millimans through our season ticket seats so we've been friends for awhile now. And we have a bunch of history here," Roberta explained. "Thomas Rawls was a player here at U-M. We have Kenny Allen, a kicker here at U-M. We have Kyle who was in the marching band, Karen Josey was in the marching band. My two boys, Kevin and Kyle Burdette, were both U-M cheerleaders for four years, so we have a lot of history here between our families."
Movie Night was a great way for both the Ann Arbor and Michigan fan community to reconnect with friends and family and spend a special evening together from quite a unique vantage point. And Mother Nature certainly obliged, making for a perfect summer evening in the perfect spot.