Big Chill at the Big House to include fan fest, flyover, fireworks and world-record crowd
Mark Riordan walked to center ice inside Michigan Stadium on Thursday afternoon, looked at the giant Big Chill at the Big House logo and beamed.
A year has passed since the Michigan associate athletic director for marketing and promotions commissioned the logo.
Riordan can't calculate how many man hours have gone into planning the weeklong celebration of hockey that begins Saturday. But he knows this: It's all worth it.
"We're trying to get it to the point where people know they were at a special event," Riordan said Thursday afternoon. "It's been crazy to put this much time into it and to see it all come together."
The main event will take place in just more than a week when the Michigan hockey team faces rival Michigan State in a rematch of the 2001 Cold War. Before then, 26 games - ranging from pee week hockey to college club teams to junior hockey - will be played.
Pre-game festivities prior to the Michigan-Michigan State game on Dec. 11 (3 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) include a fan fest on the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Main Street. The fan fest will be put on by the same group that hosted an event at last year's Frozen Four event at Ford Field in Detroit.
Plans include a fly-over by a B-2 stealth bomber and a fireworks display during player introductions. The post-game fireworks display will last for seven minutes and will be shot off from 25 locations around the field and from eight locations on the both east and west towers.
The show will be choreographed to music from "The Big Chill." Riordan estimates that 200 pieces of pyrotechnics will be shot off each minute of the 7-minute show.
"The fireworks just add to it," Riordan said. "It was fun for when we did it for the stadium re-dedication game (in September), but this one is just going to blow it away. It's going to be nuts.
"It's going to be seven action-packed, oh-my-God, what-just-happened minutes."
Making it official Ever since Michigan officials announced the game was sold out, it's been expected to be a world-record crowd. Riordan had to contact the Guinness Book of World Records in London to make it official.
Although the 2001 Cold War at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing drew a record crowd of 74,544, Michigan State officials never registered the event with Guinness officials.
An event can only try and break one world record, and that will be the mark set earlier this year in Germany when 77,803 witnessed a game at the IIHF World Championships. An adjudicator from Guinness will document the event and, according to Riordan, Michigan officials have reached out to CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje to serve as officials to verify crowd size.
Dropping the puck Given the weight The Big Chill carries in the event name, it only makes sense to involve Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Bededek, the two co-writers of the screenplay for the 1983 film. Kasdan and Bededek will drop the puck in a pregame ceremony. Kasdan received his master's degree from Michigan in education.
Kasdan went on to write screenplays for "The Empire Strikes Back," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Return of the Jedi."
Video clips from "The Big Chill" will be shown on the scoreboard during breaks in the game, and music from the film's soundtrack will serve as backdrop for postgame fireworks.
Cast your vote The Big Chill At The Big House will include a video montage of the top 10 moments in Michigan hockey history. Fans can vote for their favorite moments in a contest that can be found on Michigan's athletic department website. Polls close at midnight on Dec. 9, and the top 10 will be unveiled two days later at Michigan Stadium.