Special to Raiders.com
The Raider Nation Celebration featured the first public performance by the 2009 Raiderette squad.* - *Tony Gonzales
The Raider Nation Celebration, presented by Comcast, once again proved the unique relationship between The Oakland Raiders and their passionate fans. Approximately 10,000 people of all ages enjoyed an afternoon of fun and entertainment at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Kids were having a blast in the Kids Zone in the East Side Club and their parents took a chance on commentating Raiders games as play-by-play announcers at the Raiders Radio Karaoke. "My dad gave it a try," said young Melissa from Fremont. "It was funny and I think he did okay."
Several radio and TV stations informed the fans about their schedule and programs. The Oakland Raiders internet department informed about Raiders.com, the official team website, and the Oakland Raiders multicultural department had a stand where fans were informed about the Silver and Black's many initiatives around the globe. Fans had the opportunity to buy official merchandise as well as unique pieces of team memorabilia.
Fans waited in long lines to get their picture taken with one of the many Raider Legends or the three Super Bowl trophies. Fans like Marvin Butler and his son Matthew. "The first time my son and I came here, we took a picture of the Super Bowl trophies. Since this is our fifth anniversary, we took another picture with the trophy. That was the highlight for us," explained Marvin Butler.
The two - dressed in black Raiders home jerseys – attend the event every year. "It's exciting to be a part of the Raider Nation. The Silver and Black - that's what it's all about. We just enjoy the atmosphere and seeing all the players," said Marvin Butler.
For others it was their very first experience with the Raider Nation Celebration. And while some first-timers come from the Bay Area, others traveled halfway around the world to be part of the Raider Nation; such as Rob and Annette Gothram and their infant daughter Matilda. All three moved from Australia to California about a year ago. "It's fun. To come to a festivity like this is just incredible," said Rob Gothram. "The greatest part about Raider Nation Celebration to me is seeing the players practice. Normally you don't have access to that. That was great."
The players were introduced to the crowd a few minutes after the Raiderettes – Football's Fabulous Females – performed several routines at midfield. Every group of players received a warm welcome from the fans. During the 90-minute practice session the Raider Nation applauded every catch and cheered every pass. No wonder the players were all smiles after practice as they made their way around the stadium to sign autographs.
Fans were afforded the opportunity to watch a training camp practice at the Raider Nation Celebration. S Hiram Eugene makes the catch.* - *Tony Gonzales
"It's good to come back (to Oakland) and break up the routine of Napa a little bit. Napa is a great place, but it's good to get a little change of scenery," said punter Shane Lechler, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. "We get the chance to show the fans that we put in some time and hard work to turn this thing around."
Lechler also admitted that practicing in front of the enthusiastic Raider fans gave him and his teammates a huge boost. "Coming out here and being with our really good fans pushes us," Lechler added.
Rookie defensive end Matt Shaughnessy agreed, "It was fun practicing here in front of the fans. They came out here and support us. That is just awesome. We have great fans here in Oakland."
These fans and all the fans of the Raider Nation are looking forward to the Oakland Raiders first preseason game. On Thursday, August 13 the Silver and Black host the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (kickoff 7 p.m. PT).
Much more to come including a comprehensive photo gallery!