What’s one of the best things about living in Foxboro?
If you ask many of the nearly 20,000 fans who showed up Monday night, July 29, at Gillette Stadium, it’s getting to take in the New England Patriots’ free In-Stadium Practice.
The annual event is open to town residents as well as season ticket holders, who not only get to watch their hometown team play for nothing but also get treated to a fireworks display at the end.
This marks the 12th year the team has hosted the event to show their appreciation to loyal fans and the local community. Foxboro residents were able to obtain 10 free mobile tickets per person.
“What an amazing night with family and friends under the lights at Gillette Stadium,” Selectwoman Leah Gibson said. “I love the opportunity all the kids have to get a chance to attend a Patriots event.”
She has been to this event many times and is a season ticket holder. Her son David Sherlock, 8, is also a big fan.
“My favorite part of being here is getting the smell of fried dough,” he said, adding that he is a big fan of Pats receiver Julian Edelman.
“Great time tonight, good seeing all the new players out here at Gillette,” said Pete McCann, who’s wife, Rachel, works at H2T in Foxboro.
“So much love for my hometown and grateful to share this event with my boys (Logan and Jack Shannon),” said Rachel.
For Carly Moriarty, this was her first year attending the event.
“It was fun to be able to watch the team play on the field and for the kids to be able to see their idols up close and personal,” said Moriarty, who came with her son Braden Lucas, a fourth grader at Taylor Elementary School and also a big Edleman fan.
“I think it is a great opportunity for the residents of Foxboro to experience the excitement of their home team champions,” said Mary Hardiman, who brought her sons Nick and Matt, fourth and first graders, respectively, at Taylor. This was their first year attending this event.
“It’s cool that they play a game. I like seeing all the Patriots players. They are cool. It’s fun to watch them play,” said Nick, whose favorite player used to be Gronk but is now Tom Brady. His brother also likes Brady.
Their friend Alan Colantuoni, a fourth grader at Taylor, said his favorite player is Sony Michel. “He is really good at juking,” Alan said.
Alicia Santos said it was her family’s fourth year attending the event.
“It was amazing to see how excited the kids get to be so up close to the players," she said. "It's quite the experience. We are very grateful to be in Foxboro, one of the great communities in New England."
According to Jeremie Smith, Patriots communications manager of business development and external affairs, 34 new players were on the field at the In-Stadium Practice, 20 rookies and 14 veterans.
“The In-Stadium Practice is always one of my favorite events of the year,” Smith said. “It’s almost like coming home after a long summer away and feeling reunited with family and friends. You can feel the energy and excitement of a new season throughout the stadium and that’s a lot of fun to be around.
“Obviously, the fans and local residents who attend this practice year after year are what make this event special as they create such an awesome atmosphere for the team and it starts to feel like football season has returned to Foxboro.”
“It’s great to see all of the fans out here and I can’t wait to see them all fill (Gillette) up (this season),” Patriots center and captain David Andrews said through the team.
“We’re nothing without Pats Nation. Open practices feel like game days,” Edelman said on his Instagram page.