Antigo’s brothers Fittante, along with their Hip Pocket bandmates, provided the entertainment for a host of Packers alumni and fellow friends in the Lambeau Field Atrium for the annual Green and Gold Gala on Oct. 1.
The Green and Gold Gala is the Packer organization’s most significant charity event of the year. Proceeds from the Gala, presented by the Packers Give Back, benefit Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin.
The event opened with a reception on the upper Atrium Level, where former players including Antonio Freeman, Leroy Butler, Lynn Dickey, Frank Winters and many more gathered to share stories and revel in the glory of being part of the Packer family.
The Hip Pocket band, with Joe Fittante on keys and vocals, and Mike Fittante jamming the drum kit, performed on the ground floor, during and following a formal dinner and live auction. The musicians rose to the occasion, as a future concert from them drew the top auction bid.
“It was a great night, with lots of notable alumni players from Super Bowl XXXI, including Jim McMahon with his sunglasses and earring, vintage,” said Joe Fittante. “We had a great time, and Hip Pocket was the top bid of any of the auction items at $15,000.00 for a rooftop party with the band and food for 100 people.
“This is a big event in Green Bay, and we are so lucky to be a part of it. It’s nostalgic but exciting as well, lots of energy in the room. As a Wisconsin native, there will always be something special to be inside Lambeau surrounded by all the memorabilia that transports us back to the days when we were watching the Packers with our dads.
“To be involved with a great event like the Gala where the Packers are watching us is just totally over the top.”
The Packers’ Super Bowl champion wide receiver Antonio Freeman, who now splits his time between Baltimore and Ft. Lauderdale, was gracious enough to share a few thoughts about reuniting with his teammates and the legends that came before.
“It’s always a great time to come back and get with the guys, we did something very special, winning a Super Bowl,” Freeman said. “After football, your life just takes on a different journey and it doesn’t include these guys. That’s what makes these moments so special. We get back together and reminisce and talk about the good old days. Once you get home, after football, you’re just a regular guy.”
Asked about that Super Bowl team, Freeman talked about not just the players, but the entire Green Bay organization during that magical season.
“Everybody was a champion. The coaches, the training staff, the medical guys, athletic trainers, equipment guys, second string, the 53rd man on the roster, we were all champions,” he said. “Being in that locker room, sharing it with all those guys, we put the work in together every day. It was just an amazing feeling. A whole room of big smiles and happy souls.”
Freeman was also game to discuss his impression of the consistent upgrades to Lambeau Field, as well as his relationship to those Packer legends.
“Awesome. I’ve been here for my Hall of Fame induction, and several other inductions. It’s almost unbelievable to think that they reconstructed this place just from the bowl. It’s everything, the Atrium, across the street with Titletown, Lodge Kohler, its just amazing and breathtaking. I could never have imagined that these things would exist in Green Bay.
“I think about my time with a guy like Fuzzy Thurston, the time I still get to spend with Jerry Kramer, Dave Robinson, the list goes on. Just listening to their stories, what their pay scale was, the wisdom that those guys pass along to us, it’s amazing just to sit down with those guys and just hear them talk. Once those guys get to talking, they talk forever.”
And what about catching those sizzling passes from Brett Favre?
“I wish I could show you my fingers. Let’s just say I got my ring fit for a certain finger, that was year number two. By the end of season three, that ring would no longer fit on that finger. So you rarely see me wear my Super Bowl ring, because Brett messed up my ring finger.”