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Terry & Dave Taylor

The Day Before

Phoenix, Arizona:  Mary and Steve arrived today! They checked-in and we all went immediately to lunch at the same pizza place Dave and I visited last night for dinner. The pizza was so amazing, we wanted to share it with our old friends.

Don't worry - Kathy and Woody arrive tomorrow.

Mary and Steve at Fan Fest
Steve and Mary pose at the Fan Festival on the way to lunch

Pizzeria Bianco
Pizzeria Bianco

Spiedini: Fontina cheese wrapped in organic prosciutto - on a bed of arugula

pizza Bianco
This time, Dave and I ordered the Rosa:
red onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, rosemary, and Arizona pistachios. Super delicious.



After a lovely meal and catching-up, we walked to the nearby Convention Center to see the "Fan Festival" and attend the pep rally. The convention center has been completely consumed with booths and displays from so many companies - advertising their wares and providing interactive games and contests for the fans. The fan fest was very well attended and the little kids were really having the best time. Shooting baskets. Scaling climbing walls. Pop-a-Shot. Lots of prizes were awarded - hats, water bottles, etc. Fun was had by all.

NCAA Final Four Fan Fest 2017 Phoenix
Fan Fest in the Phoenix Convention Center

Fan Fest 2017 Final Four Phoenix
This competition, hosted by LG, required participants to toss "dirty laundry" into washing machines. Score!

2017 NCAA Final Four Fan Fest Phoenix
Shooting hoops

NCAA Final Four Phoenix 2017 Fan Fest
I do not know what the Oreo Dunk Challenge was about, but I bet I could have been a contender.

Each Final Four school - Oregon Ducks, Gonzaga Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks and the North Carolina Tar Heels - provided a cheer team and a band for the pep rally. Each school had a corner of a basketball court set-up inside the convention center. Each school band played a song and their cheerleaders danced. One by one, then one more time around, and then another time around and then another. Okay, that was enough.

2017 NCAA Final Four Pep Rally, Phoenix
Of course, we all sat in the Oregon section!

Oregon - obviously - has the best mascot in the NCAA: Puddles

NCAA Final Four PHoenix fan fest pep rally
Oregon cheerleaders

The bands were all very good and I loved that the Gonzaga band members danced and cheered along with all the other schools as their bands played music. Very classy, Zags!



After all this excitement, we ventured down the street to find the official UO Alumni party at Park Street Food Bar and Beer Garden where there was a shop set up to sell Duck Final Four merchandise and a raffle was underway for prizes (tee shirts, hats and two tickets to the games this weekend).

Duck Shop in Phoenix
Temporary Duck Shop

Park Street Food Bar and Beer Garden Phoenix
We saw two Tar Heels in the bar - the rest of the joint was a sea of green and yellow.

The bar had a unique (to us) beer dispensing situation. Buy a ticket, choose your brewski,
slide ticket into a slot above the tap and pour yourself a beer.
It's not like I don't get out much, but is this a new thing or just an Arizona thing?

Mary won a tee shirt in the raffle! One of twelve prizes. What luck! It was a very nice shirt too - green with Puddles on the front. Perfect!

We walked back to our hotel to find the lobby bar completely jammed with fans watching the women's Final Four game. Much shouting and cheering as the game went into overtime with Mississippi State upsetting powerhouse UConn - ending their 111-game winning streak. Amazing! The place erupted.

We saw many of the Oregon players in the hotel during the day and evening. We rode the elevator with Kavell Bigby-Williams. He is English and his family traveled all the way from London to attend the Final Four! Kavell is 23 inches taller than me and had to bend his head to get into the elevator.

I did not order a martini tonight. The bar was completely packed with happy fans (drinking expensive cocktails from plastic cups) and knew I would never get a martini glass from the swamped staff... but not to worry. I now have two martini glasses with me! My wonderful Oregon friend, Hans, read my blog post last night and stopped to a shop on his way to the Portland airport this morning, made the purchase, and HAND-CARRIED two martini glasses ON THE PLANE to me - GIFT WRAPPED IN OREGON COLORS! - to Phoenix! No kidding. What a great guy, what a great gesture and what a great sense of humor! Thank you, Hans - and CHEERS!

I hope to have a celebratory martini tomorrow night after the Oregon Ducks defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels. If things do not go according to my plan, I can always drown my sorrows in my new martini stem... but that isn't a positive way to think. Whatever happens tomorrow, it is going to be a wonderful experience and we are so excited and so proud of the Ducks.

NOTE: The games will air on CBS tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. The first game (Gonzaga v South Carolina) is at 3:09p pacific, followed by Oregon v North Carolina at 5:49p pacific. Be there.

And cheer for My Ducks!

Until my next update, I remain, your anxious correspondent.


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