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Evanston Shows Its Purple Pride

Neighbors turn out in big numbers, help push Wildcats to big win during Evanston Day at Ryan Field

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September 27, 2010 | by Stephen Anzaldi
Produced by Matt Paolelli

EVANSTON, Ill. --- City and University joined together Sept. 25 as Northwestern welcomed its neighbors for the inaugural Evanston Day at Ryan Field. Local fans helped cheer on the hometown Wildcats to their fourth consecutive victory -- a 30-25 win over Central Michigan -- heading into Big Ten play.

There were plenty of pre-game attractions, including a visit from Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, a 1975 graduate of Northwestern, who brought the Stanley Cup onto the field. President Morton Schapiro and athletic director Jim Phillips lifted the trophy to a standing ovation from the robust crowd of more than 30,000.

Also before kickoff, fans gathered in the family fun zone at Wildcat Alley. Kids and adults played corn hole, got their faces painted and enjoyed a joint performance by the marching bands of Northwestern and Evanston Township High School. Purple and white tents filled the parking lots with tailgating crowds.

To mark the special event, Northwestern paid tribute during the game to Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and several aldermen.

"It was a beautiful day out there to watch the Wildcats, and it illustrates the great cooperation between the City and the University," said Melissa Wynne, 3rd ward alderaman. "We really enjoyed ourselves as guests of Northwestern."

President Schapiro said he embraces the spirit of Evanston Day at Ryan Field all year long.

"It's such a great city. And nothing makes me feel better as president of Northwestern than to go out on the lakefill with my daughter riding her bike, or to go to a musical theater, classical concert or a lecture and see people from town taking ownership and saying 'This is my university.'"

The day's official attendance figure -- 30,075 -- was surely boosted by the Evanston Day promotion. It marked just the second time since Sept. 12, 1998, that Northwestern surpassed 30,000 attendees for a non-conference home game. The attendance also represented a 56-percent increase over last season's second home game.

Topics: Neighborhood, Campus Life