Monday, September 6, 2010

Canton-Lite: The Hall at Patriot Place

A friend recently suggested that we rent an RV and take a road trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  My wife was horrified at the thought of riding in an RV.  I was horrified that my kids might treat an excursion to Cooperstown like I did all those years ago - flying through the exhibits so quickly that we drove back four hours later that afternoon.  The kids were horrified of spending three days with their parents.  At least we were all consistent.

Regardless, when it is suggested that we treat the kids to something new, we always try them out on a much smaller scale.  Baseball at Fenway?  Let's go see the Pawsox.  The Patriots?  Let's take them to a preseason game.  Dinner out at a nice restaurant?  Let's take them to Burger King.  Halls of Fame are no exception.  Before we drop hundreds of dollars triaveling to New York without knowing what kind of reception we would get to staring at busts and watching videos, we decided to bring them to Foxborough and try the New England Patriots Hall of Fame (sponsored by Raytheon - can't forget that).  We figured for $50 we can test their Hall of Fame mettle.  All those years ago, I know what it's like to have an attention span of three minutes when watching and reading about history.  I think the hstory of ice cream, the beach and chocalate milk would be boring to them without interactivity.  "Hey guys," I start, "You know you can play football here like a real game."


"Yes, really."  (Crossing my fingers since that's what I remember from someone's description when it open a couple of years ago).

2pm.  Forborough, MA.  After eating lunch at the CBSScene, we slowly trudged down the stairs to the Hall of Fame entrance.  Walking right through the Pro Shop on the way in AND the way out?  Nice; I get two opportunities to fend the children off from Patriots helmets, jerseys, gloves and playing cards.

After talking all three kids from Patriots winter hats, we finally get to the top floor where the experience begins.  The kids love the interactive math game while trying to score a touchdown.  I tried to throw it so my four year old daughter (DLG) would win, but I got distracted and my six year old ended up winning.  Damn it!

Unbelievably, the kids also enjoyed looking at the old time football memorabilia from the early days of the NFL and College Football.  The movie about the history of the Patriots, that we saw on the way down to the second floor, also was an emotional experience for the family - well just me, I suppose.  "I don't like the guns!" my six year old exclaimed, still scarred from the preseason game last year when he was startled by the muskets being fired after the Patriots scored a touchdown.  "Just keep watching, buddy!"  The Third Floor also featured a lot of Boston Patriot history from the AFL.

As I survey the layout of the second floor, I can already tell that the kids will like this floor.  The Super Bowl Trophies, the "kick a field goal screen" and the duck boat.  We pass by a display of the hall of famers, including a newly inducted Sam "Bam" Cunningham, and a display of the footballs from the Patriots 21 game winning streak (yawn).  I'm tempted to kick a field goal after watching a couple of replays from the Snow Bowl.  But I'm beckoned to help as the kids scatter in the next room.  One wants to jump as high as they can with Laurence Maroney (and yes MM has a 24 inch vertical leap).  DLG wants to be weighed next to Vince Wilfork. And my eight year old wants to test his reaction time hitting Tedi Bruschi from a three point stance (I bet there are Dolphin fans whow would love this exhibit).  My six year old tried the same exhibit and if Dan Koppen says "Oh, you jumped offside, please try again" one more time, me and the Patriots personnel guy trying to help him might bang our heads against Tedy's chest.

Then the highlight for the kids came up.  I first thought that they were psyched to see the three Super Bowl Trophies.  It didn't take long to figure out exactly what got them excited - trying to catch ticker tape flying out of the wall every time the Patriots won the Super Bowl on the screen above.  All three of them stuffed red and blue pieces of paper into their pockets from catching them out fo the air.

"I'm going to throw these up in my room every time I wake up." My six year old excitedly tells me.

"Uh, no you're not..." I gently explain. "and if you do, you're going to pick them all up off the floor."

But that's ok.  They had a great time.  As we walked throught he turnstile into the Pro Shop, they wanted to go through again and catch the ticker tape and play the football math game.  This afternoon served two purposes, really.  I know that they're ready for Cooperstown, but more importantly, they're ready to try to beat me in the 2010 JMR NFL Picks.  I suggest you bring your kids to this Hall of Fame.

"Hey Dad!!  When can we play football here?" My six year old asks.

Shoot!  Except you don't play real football in here.

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