APPLETON, Wisc. -- More than 100 fans of the Cleveland Browns packed The Clubhouse restaurant at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel on Saturday night for a Backer Bash presented by the Fox Valley Browns Backers of Appleton and Green Bay, Wisc., to celebrate the team’s first regular-season visit to Lambeau Field since 2005.
“Since I was born, I was a Browns fan,” said Rich Bower, president of the Fox Valley Browns Backers. “I came up here in ’92, and all you hear about here is Green Bay. To have Browns fans together like this, and have the Browns in town, it’s awesome. There’s no greater fans than Cleveland Browns fans.”
In addition to the members of the Fox Valley Browns Backers, fans from as far away as Dallas, Texas, Los Angeles, California, and Great Britain joined with 25 Backers who rode the Fox Sports Ohio Browns Bus from Cleveland to Appleton on Saturday morning.
The Lima Area Browns Backers were also represented at Saturday’s Backer Bash, as Bill Cook and six of his friends and family, including his nephew and older brother, jumped onto his bus and made the eight-hour trek to Green Bay, where they rented a house for the weekend.
“I’ve travelled to every home game since ’99, and we usually go to two or three away games a year,” Cook said. “I was up here in ’05 when we played against Brett Favre, and we won. I’m here to repeat that. The fans up in Green Bay are such nice people that we made the trip back up.
He added, “We’ve bonded over the Browns. It’s a family thing.”
Michael DiFilippo, vice president of the Fox Valley Browns Backers described Saturday’s Backer Bash as “huge” for the club, which is in its second year and has 12 members.
“We’ve been preparing this party, and we’ve been waiting for this day since the preseason,” DiFilippo said. “We circled Oct. 20, and we said, ‘That weekend, we’re going to have a party. We’ve got to have a party because we know Cleveland Browns fans will come out and support our team.’ With the turnout that we had tonight, it was more than we could imagine.
“To have the Browns come to where you’re living, because I’m actually living in Wisconsin right now, is big. It’s not every day that we get to travel 8.5 hours back home to go see the Browns play in Cleveland. It’s always nice that they come to us.”
During the Backer Bash, the Browns provided raffle items for the club, and through their “Dawgs for Dogs” fundraiser, the Fox Valley Browns Backers were able to donate the proceeds to the Green Bay Animal Shelter.