Friday, December 07, 2007
Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington Holiday Party
"I love playing for The Washington Nationals" said Luis Ayala. "I am looking forward to playing in the new park. And (now looking directly at Principal Owner Mark Lerner standing about five feet way), I hope to play the rest of my career here in Washington, DC. I really mean it. I love it here, are you listening?"
Mark Lerner replies nodding and smiling: "Then stay healthy." Everybody cracks up laughing. Smiles all around.
Was Luis Ayala ever in a great holiday spirit!! You can't say enough about his effort yesterday afternoon at The ESPN ZONE in Downtown Washington, DC. The occasion--Our Washington Nationals Second Annual Holiday Party for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Over 180 invited children showed up from 8 different Area Clubs. Five from The District of Columbia, Two from Alexandria and Fairfax, Virginia, and One from Silver Spring, Maryland.
Ayala, Mark Lerner and Senior Vice-President, External Affairs--Alphonso Maldon, Jr. presented each child in attendance with a special holiday gift from Our Washington Nationals.
The ESPN Zone provided, not only the venue, but a Buffet Meal plus Game Tickets for the various play stations on the lower level of their restaurant. Also on hand--Principal Owner Judy Lerner.
Centerplate--The New Concessionaire at New Nationals Park--provided specially made Curly W Holiday Cookies (Really nicely done--by the way).
And--last, but far from least-- My Best Friend Screech!!! posted up to provide the antics.
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect when I first decided to attend this event. But, Luis Ayala was GREAT with the kids. He told some jokes, sang songs with them, played along with their games, signed an autograph for EACH AND EVERY ONE in attendance-- and took plenty of pictures. Our Number 56 worked the room like a real pro. And--most importantly--he was loving every minute of it. HE WANTED TO BE THERE.
Luis Ayala flew in from his home in Mexico on Wednesday--along with his brother--Mario. "I don't see snow often." he said. "So, this is different, but I am really not use to it." Of course--Ayala, like Ryan Zimmerman the day before at The New Nationals Park Holiday Lighting Party, was only wearing a light jacket in the freezing weather, as well. There must really be something about being young and adapting to cold--that I just don't remember as I approach 50 years of age.
The event itself lasted over two and half hours. In addition to the toys provided--each child also received a Goodie Bag of Washington Nationals memorabilia--including a Red Curly "W" Cap. Most all those caps left The ESPN Zone with Luis Ayala's autograph.
Stacey Wiessbock--Head of Catering for Centerplate and Chef Michael Snead (The New Executive Chef for New Nationals Park) took the time to introduce themselves to me and thanked EVERYONE who posted suggestions on The Nats320 Blog about their food and concession desires at the new ballpark. Both assured me that Centerplate was very pleased to receive and hear those comments. And, their company is looking forward to announcing what's in store for New Nationals Park after the start of the new year. Without taking away any one's thunder--Centerplate has been listening--and seemingly does want everyone to enjoy the upcoming choices to be available on South Capitol Street--no matter how much, or how little, you wish to spend at a ballgame. That can't be a bad thing. No way--in my opinion.
The Event itself was fun. Glad, I was to attend. No, not over news worthy--when it comes to The Baseball Operations side of Our Washington Nationals. But, its nice to know Our Team, along with some of their players and business partners--are reaching out to various parts of The Washington D.C. Area Community to show their appreciation--to others. Like the Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday afternoon and this Party at ESPN Zone. Something simple--goes along way in building and generating a solid fan base--especially during The Holiday Season.