United in orange
EAGLE — There were Broncos jerseys abound, lots of No. 18s, pigskins flying and a sea of orange at Brush Creek Pavilion on a sunny Friday afternoon as the Denver Broncos Salute to Fans Tour stopped in town.
Children and adults alike flocked to Eagle to meet a few of the Broncos players, cheerleaders and Miles the mascot after the town won an online voting contest to earn the fifth and final stop of the tour.
“It takes me back to the day that we won it,” said Marty Topor, who, like many Eagle residents, rode their bicycles to the event. “It’s just great to see all of this orange.”
Town officials said they didn’t know what kind of crowd to expect, but at least 1,000 people were on the lawn at the start of the event, Mayor Ann McKibbin said.
“We’re a very cool community, and we like our Broncos,” McKibbin said. “It’s just fun for the town.”
The Broncos players in Eagle were receiver Bennie Fowler, who caught Peyton Manning’s final pass of his career; offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, of Colorado State University; and defensive back Kayvon Webster, a fourth-year player.
Cheerleaders Sam and Angela were also at the celebration.
Fans took photos with the players and got autographs on everything from jerseys to posters to stuffed animals and longboards.
Van, 5, gave the shirt off his back to Sambrailo to sign and said it was “awesome.”
Mayor Ann McKibbin thanked ECO Transit for providing free transportation during the event and Brush Creek Elementary School for “coordinating” the voting, especially teacher Shelly Fullhart.
The town competed against others in the state in an online voting competition for the final stop in the tour, and the town rallied around Fullhart and the rest of the school.
“She wore Broncos gear for the whole month before the Super Bowl and during the playoffs,” said Katherine Naughton, a third-grade teacher at Brush Creek.
“I voted all the way through a staff meeting,” said Chelsea Fysh, a third-grade teacher at Brush Creek. “It’s OK, my boss knows.”
The members of the Broncos also spent much of Friday afternoon at Brush Creek Elementary School, hosting a mini training camp for the students.
“This is a once in a lifetime thing,” Fysh said. “I had no idea they were going to come to our school. That was a mega-surprise.”
“The kids are going to remember it forever,” Naughton added.
Emotions are mixed heading into the season. Some say it’s a “rebuild” year while others say players will “step up” in Manning’s absence and “repeat.”
The Broncos open the preseason against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 11. The quest for two Super Bowls in a row begins Thursday, Sept. 8, when the Broncos open the regular season hosting the Carolina Panthers on primetime television.
There were a few No. 15 jerseys out there on Friday, so maybe it’s Tebow Time?