NFL Kickoff Rocks Times Square

September 10, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

NFL Kickoff Live From Times Square Times Square Thursday, 09.05.02, 4:30 PM to 8 PM
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Whether it was football fever or a free performance by Bon Jovi, Times Square drew a swelling crowd of people for the National Football League's kickoff event—the first of its kind to commence the opening weekend of regular season play.

The extra-large tailgate party was packed with patriotism and performers. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki both made appearances and offered a few words about the impending September 11 anniversary and the resilience of New York. The show closed with a large flag being unfolded in the crowd by police officers as Bon Jovi sang America the Beautiful. Other performers included Eve (with a team of dancers clad in football jerseys), Alicia Keys and Enrique Iglesias. All took advantage of the elaborate stage, which featured a mirrored block backdrop on one end and a lit runway leading to a large football-shaped landing on the other, to get close to the crowd.

The event also showed football highlight clips playing on Times Square's big screens and an upbeat fashion show from Reebok produced by 7th on Sixth. Ninety-seven dancers, models and former football players walked down the runway in Reebok apparel and NFL jerseys and helmets personalized by designers like Michael Kors and Narciso Rodriguez.

The NFL worked with Ken Ehrlich Productions to produce the live show's staging and recording, Full Flood for the lighting design and Clear Channel Entertainment put together the entertainment.

Times Square Studios produced the on-air broadcasts and also played host to the NFL's V.I.P. party held during the performances. Held in the studios' living room-esque set of Good Morning America, the V.I.P. event was like a homey tailgate party—complete with lots of finger food. Restaurant Associates provided a buffet spread of mini turkey, ham and cheese sandwiches, veggie wraps and endless mounds of tortilla chips and dips, while caterwaiters passed mini cheeseburgers and hot dogs. For dessert: football-shaped sugar cookies with chocolate frosting, bite-sized brownies and fruit salad.

Guests on the party's second floor enjoyed a bird's-eye view of the performances from the venue's expansive window wall, while those on the first level were up-close-and-personal to the stage. Decor was kept simple throughout: Two large NFL logo ice sculptures were created for the buffet tables by Ice Art, and Park Avenue Floratique topped cocktail tables with small rose bouquets.

Earlier in the week, the NFL held a kickoff luncheon at the Rainbow Room.

Jill Musguire

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