Orange supporters take part in annual fan fest

Syracuse fans enjoyed the festivities at this year's annual Fan Fest, getting their first look at this season's football team.

On Friday afternoon, Syracuse fans young and old gathered at Schwartzwalder-Katz practice fields to see their football team play for the first time since last year.

Syracuse Fan Fest gave members of Orange Nation many options of entertainment. Kids could go jump in the bounce houses, parents could mingle and find friends, and families wandered around, eating free ice cream and making there way to a good seat.

But, no matter what their agenda, almost everyone stopped in their tracks when the clock struck 4 p.m.

At that time the team began to descend to the field. Fans began to whoop and shout while the children stood next to the team's roped-off path, stretching for high-fives.

John and Marybeth Zagata's grandkids were doing just that. Five little ones ran around the feet of their grandparents as their excitement grew about seeing the team and getting a free poster for players to sign.

John Zagata, who has been a season ticket holder since the Carrier Dome opened, says he has been coming to Fan Fest for about 10 years now. He says the best part of the day is the interaction with the players and learning who is really underneath the Syracuse helmet. This Fan Fest is especially important to him because all of his grandkids were able to visit.

"They are all Syracuse fans, but they just moved to Connecticut two years ago," Zagata said. "So now the one is a Huskie fan, so I am trying to change that view in a hurry."

Allegiances aside, Zagata is happy to spend the weekend and the Fan Fest experience with them. He is also happy with the hiring of Scott Shafer as the head football coach. Zagata says that Shafer--who was the defensive coordinator at Syracuse for four years--will bring a lot to the table.

"I think he is going to do a great job," Zagata said. "He's a class-act guy; he's a hard-working guy, and I think he did a good job hiring assistants coaches which is very, very important because you have to be able to recruit."


One recent recruit, Chauncey Scissum, was experiencing his first Fan Fest. But, on the other side of the fence separating the practice field from the bleachers, sat his very proud parents, Art and Ginger.

They said they traveled from Rochester, N.Y. to watch their son, a freshman defensive back, practice. Art said that it is great to see his son and some of the kids he grew up with playing on the field.

He also said it's almost relieving to see his son playing for a team after a long selection process in high school.

"It's a lot of road trips and going to different schools," Scissum said. "It was a lot of fun, but once you get into it after a year, you kind of want to narrow it down...but we were glad once he finally selected his school and was committed. We were glad when he was done."

Ginger Scissum also enjoyed the recruiting because it was a benefit for her job.

"With me being an educator--I'm a school counselor--being able to see different colleges, and being able to pass that on to my scholars as well, that was a big plus," Scissum said. "Not to mention I could say, 'Well, hey, my son went to that campus and he liked it.' And now he is here in Syracuse.'"

The message from most fans were clear: they are ready for the season-opener against Penn State, one of the most important games for fans this season.

But, at least on Friday, fan could watch their team play in a stress-free setting, deck themselves out in orange and blue, and enjoy their time as part of the Syracuse family.

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