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ND club welcomes fans

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Irish fans will be in Trojan territory for Saturday’s football game against USC, and the Notre Dame Club of Orange County (NDCOC) has big plans to welcome them – including a VIP-packed pep rally and even a Thanksgiving feast.

“We’ve got people coming in for the game from across the nation as early as [Monday]. … Even though there are fewer tickets, the excitement generated by the game [has caused] some people to come out even without tickets,” said Tony Roberts, president of NDCOC.

Even if fans aren’t able to snag tickets for the game, the NDCOC has activities planned for the entire game weekend. High anticipation for the match-up prompted club members to be “more creative” with their programming, Roberts said.

The Club made arrangements with the Anaheim Marriott to reserve more than 1,000 hotel rooms – about 650 more rooms than the last time Notre Dame played at USC. The rooms are offered at a reduced rate of $79 for those who signed up for it through the club’s Web site.

The NDCOC even arranged with the Anaheim Marriot to have a Thanksgiving meal available for fans who will be arriving before Thursday, and on Friday they will host a pep rally at the hotel.

Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown will speak at the rally, and former Notre Dame football players such as Derrick Mayes, Rick DiBernardo, Joey Getherall, Brock Williams and Shane Walton are expected to make an appearance. Alumni Association Director Chuck Lennon will be the emcee and Roberts expects between 800 and 1,000 people to attend the pep rally.

On Sunday morning, the Club of Orange County will host a Communion Breakfast with Charlie Weis, and the event, Roberts said, already has more than 700 confirmed guests.

NDCOC will provide charter buses from the Anaheim Marriott to the Coliseum.

Roberts said the Notre Dame Alumni Association has been essential in helping the NDCOC plan many of the events for the game weekend.

“Coordination is critical. …The Alumni Association has done great things to help us get guest speakers,” Roberts said.

The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore will also be setting up shop at USC for eager fans who want to purchase Notre Dame merchandise. Manager Kathy McJowan said bookstore products are usually sold at about three away games each year.

“It has been a tremendous year for ND products everywhere, and alumni love to see the bookstore,” McJowan said.