Bowl Game Festivities Abound at Airport and in the Valley
The November and December holidays mark a busy travel season, but many may not realize that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is also a busy time at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Every year, Sky Harbor welcomes four college football teams and numerous fans for the Insight and Fiesta Bowl games. In fact, visitors in the terminals during the week of December 27 not only saw travelers heading home from their Arizona holiday celebrations, but also spotted thousands of fans arriving in various college school colors, preparing for the big bowl games and supporting the Valley’s economy.
Airport staff, especially Operations staff, handled various charter flight arrivals for both college bowl games. They provided airfield escort support for the charter flights for US Airways, Southwest Airlines, American, Sun Country, Miami Air and Allegiant Airlines.
Sky Harbor assisted in the Fiesta Bowl Team Arrivals which consisted of Boise State on December 28 and Texas Christian University on December 29. These arrival events included a reception from Fiesta Bowl volunteers, catering, entertainment and a media presence. And, as always, friendly Navigator volunteers in purple were on-hand to answer travelers’ questions.
On New Year’s Eve, the Iowa State Cyclones took on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. This was the first bowl game since 2005 for Iowa State, and the Cyclones claimed the victory over the Gophers 14-13.
The festivities continued into the weekend when the annual Fiesta Bowl Parade took place on Saturday, January 2, in Central Phoenix. Bands from both Boise State and Texas Christian Universities participated as well as local organizations and groups, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. In fact, PHX had a group of 19 volunteers who marched down the parade route waving, smiling, and carrying Sky Harbor’s balloon, Amelia the Airplane. The Airport’s mascot, Amelia the Airplane, also walked with the balloon and was dubbed “Little A” or “Little Amelia” by local media. PHX Sky Harbor often participates in the Fiesta Bowl Parade and Amelia the Airplane balloon is a favorite among the crowd as volunteers spin her around and make her dance.
Moving to the Valley’s west side, the Boise State Broncos took on Texas Christian’s Horned Frogs, on Monday, January 4. The Broncos were victorious with a 17-10 win over the Horned Frogs. Fans from both teams were seen at PHX Sky Harbor Tuesday morning making their way home. Boise State fans adorned in blue and orange were excited about their win. Pete Daines (pictured in one of the photos above), who had attended the Fiesta Bowl in 2007 and was traveling with his son, said besides seeing Boise State win, he most enjoyed the sunny and warm Arizona weather. Sue Mattison, a Boise State fan, was also making her second trip with fellow fans Gerry Mattison and Bob Kurz (the three are pictured in a photo above). She said that what she most enjoyed was that the Airport was efficient and that the city is very clean.
Randy Johnson, a Texas Christian University fan who was traveling with his family, enjoyed his trip to the Valley even with his team’s loss. “The desert area is really nice, and the Fiesta Bowl was well run, it was easy to get in and get out,” Johnson said. “We had a good time.”
Boise State fans also made their way into Airport shops to purchase Fiesta Bowl T-shirts with the final score on them. Licensed screen printers are on standby during the Fiesta Bowl game so that the minute the game is over they can print the custom shirts with the game’s score. Airport retail tenants then go pick them up and bring them to the Airport so that fans can purchase these unique and coveted keepsakes before their flights home (one of the T-shirts is pictured above right).
All in all, no matter what the outcome of the football games were, fans said that they enjoyed visiting the Valley of the Sun and are leaving with many memories of all the festivities that took place.