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Pep Rally, Gala Draws Hundreds in Advance of Saturday’s Army-Navy Game

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wing_dan DL Dan Wing
 Dan Wing is a news anchor and reporter for KYW Newsradio...
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By Dan Wing, Steve Patterson and Todd Quinones

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds of fans of both service academies gathered today at the Shops at Liberty Place for the annual Army-Navy Game pep rally.

Cheerleaders doing back-flips, marching bands blasting fight songs, and a rowdy crowd of fans were all on hand, all of them in high spirits, ahead of tomorrow’s big game.

Many of the fans had traveled to Philadelphia from far and wide.

Al, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said it has been well worth the trip.

“It’s a wonderful event. It’s an All-American event, and it certainly is America’s game,” he said today.

Jenny, who made the trip up from Germantown, Md., says everybody’s a winner when these two teams play their annual game:

“They’re both winners. They’re winners just because they are who they are.”

Friday night’s gala brought sailors and soldiers together under one roof at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

“Midshipmen when they first enter the academy, the first things they’re taught to say are, ‘beat Army.’ It’s like a baby when it says ‘Momma,’ you don’t have to teach it, it just comes out of their mouth,” Ret. Adm. Robert Natter of U.S. Navy said.

Saturday’s game will mark the 85th time the game will be played in Philadelphia. The first game played in our city was way back in 1899 at University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.

“No matter where we take the Army-Navy Game, Philadelphia has always been and always will be the home of the Army-Navy football game.”

With a little Saturday snow possibly thrown into the mix, Army supporters are hoping the weather might slow down Navy’s attack.

“I love watching football in the rain and snow. And I’m sure these ball players don’t care. They’re out there to knock heads and they’re going to do it tomorrow,” Natter said.

Some fans did admit that the snowy forecast for the game had them a little worried, but Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, says the Eagles grounds crew has done a great job getting the field ready.

“The field is painted, the banners are up, the field looks great,” he says, “so they’re definitely ready to go at the stadium.”

Needle says this weekend, a longtime Philadelphia tradition, is one of the busiest of the year for the city’s hospitality community:

“We estimate that it’s at least 35 or 40 million dollars in economic impact. That’s based on 50,000 visitors coming into the city, enjoying our hotels and restaurants and attractions.”

This is already one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports. And tomorrow it will add a little bit more history as the coin that will be used in the coin toss is the same coin President John F. Kennedy was supposed to use in the 1963 Army-Navy Game. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination, that coin for the first time will be used.

You can watch the Army-Navy Game live from Lincoln Financial Field tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. only on CBS 3.

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