Fans can expect a lot of pomp and circumstance at the Chicago Bears team practice Thursday night at Prospect High School, including face painting and signmaking, and music by the Bears Drumline and Prospect marching band.
The school's cheerleaders and the dance team will also help pump up the crowd, while kids can jump around on inflatables and play in a mini-monster football zone.
The Bears hope to create a "Friday Night Lights" atmosphere at Prospect's George Gattas Memorial Stadium in Mount Prospect. Parking lots will open at 3:30 p.m., stadium gates at 4 p.m. and the practice begins at 6 p.m., though no more tickets are available.
"We've hosted a ton of events outside of games, like training camp and a draft party, where fans had the chance to come to us and participate in Bears football," said Scott Hagel, the Bears' senior vice president of marketing and communications. "But we've been working for a number of years on how do we go into the community and bring Bears football to them."
The inaugural Varsity Bears High School Takeover was held last year at Warren Township High School in Gurnee -- the idea of a Bears employee who helped run similar events when he worked for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Gurnee practice session was such a hit the Bears decided to bring it back for another year, this time at Prospect. Both years, free tickets made available on the Bears' website were gone within an hour.
Of the 6,000 tickets distributed by the team, many were given to Northwest Suburban High School District 214 for students and staff.
Hagel said the Bears considered several suburban schools for an on-the-road practice, but chose Prospect because of its quality field, stadium size and enthusiasm from school staff to host.
The team practice will consist of drills and 11-on-11 scrimmages in helmets and jerseys -- not full pads. Afterward, players are expected to stick around to sign autographs.