Webster Bank Arena is by no means a celebrity magnet, but every once in a while, a famous face walks through the doors. Earlier this year, superstar wrestler Triple H brought his family (and famous in-laws) to Disney On Ice. He sat in the regular seats and greeted plenty of awestruck fans. We get lots of NHL stars, including a recent visit from Ron Francis, the greatest Whaler of them all and true Connecticut hockey royalty. Actress Melissa Joan Hart was at a recent Sound Tigers game, waiting in line for ice cream like everyone else.
On Saturday, we were proud to welcome a different kind of celebrity. Archbishop William Lori, the former Bishop of Bridgeport, dropped the puck at a ceremony honoring the late Gary Hammill, his former chauffeur and a former Webster Bank Arena employee.
All of our fans get excellent treatment, but arenas have to make special accomodations for celebs and visits by people like the Archbishop. Such as making sure employees know what to call him if they encounter him. In person, he’s called “Your Excellency.” Archbishop Lori is a very nice man, but we can’t have him greeted with a “Hi, buddy!” as he arrives.
We also had to change the normal procedure for brining people to center ice for the ceremonial puck drop. Normally, the person climbs down into the penalty box from the stands and walks on a carpet to the face off circle. A man promoted by the pope shouldn’t be climbing anywhere, so we gathered up as much carpet as possible and luckily had enough to reach from the Zamboni tunnel to center ice.
Archbishop Lori graciously agreed to media interviews and a picture with Storm, and only had to suffer one indiginity. Moments after he walked off the ice, the game-ops crew dragged the inflatable “tiger tunnel” toward him and we had to hustle him out of the way. He laughed at the behind-the-scenes chaos and was soon on his way.
And we got ready to hande the next famous face.