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Columbus Welcomes Hockey's Best Players And Fans

Columbus is host to the National Hockey League All Star game this week-end. The NHL showcase will bring thousands fans and visitors to the city as well as international media attention. For the week-end its been dubbed Winter Park with outdoor skating, a giant slide and barrel fires to warm the crowds. Columbus police patrol on horseback. Bars and restaurants keep their doors open even though its late January. Brian Ross head of Experience Columbus anticipates a lot of visitors especially from up north. "We're glad that we have plenty of Canadians in this weekend and hopefully thay maybe all came in on their Zambonis," says Ross. As one of professional hockey's newest franchises, Columbus lacks some of the collective memories of the games great moments and star players. The list of Stanley Cup winners on a large billboard is filled with Toronto and Montreal championships. But that's not to say the Blue Jackets aren't writing their own hockey history. Among the first fans to arrive for the week-end festivities was Kevin Sanders a self-described 'crazy hockey fan.' Trouble is he was strolling by the home of the Blue Jackets dressed head to toe in a Penguin outfit. As in Pittsburgh. "I'm a huge Penguins fan. I grew up over by Pittsburgh and I brought my fanhood with me," says Sanders. Pittsburgh defeated the Blue Jackets in last year's NHL play-offs. Sanders says this is the first NHL All Star game he'll see in person. He's drawn to the speed and athleticism of major league hockey. "I mean you get to see the best guys in the world come together and put on a show in the All Star skills competition and then you get to see a lot of offense on Sunday. So it's really cool, it's really cool what it's done for the city too, it's realy neat," Sanders adds. While Sanders could be characterized as an avid fan, the All Stars will also draw more casual hockey fans, fans like Alysha Briggs who likes a unique aspect of the game. "Yeah, the fighting, I guess it's just because you don't see it in other sports. It's unique to the sport of hockey you know when they check each other and get into a big fight and it's just kind of exciting. It's just like half sports game, half wrestling match," says Briggs. It's unlikely any fights will break out during the All-Star game but there'll be plenty of finesse and flash as the league's best perform what for most of us are miracles on ice, slapping a small puck into a small net with curved stick with opponents all around.