FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that 15,349 spectators attended the first day of training camp. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 through the gates – James Guest and the father-son duo of James and Brendon Stokes – traveled from three different locales and considerable distance to lead the pack.
Guest, 41, a former New Hampshire resident who now lives in Melbourne, Florida, called an audible when his itinerary didn’t unfold as planned.
“My plane got delayed last night. We were supposed to leave at 6:30. It didn’t leave until 8:30. So I didn’t get in until 11:30,” he explained. “My buddies here that live in New Hampshire, we decided that driving from Boston to New Hampshire, and waking up a couple hours later and driving back to Gillette, wasn’t a good idea. So we just drove here instead from the airport.”
They arrived shortly before 1 a.m. but were told that was too early to line up. So they came back at 3:30 a.m., even though gates weren't scheduled to open until 8 a.m.
“For the last six years, we’ve been first in line – 4 a.m. is usually when we get here,” Guest said. “Biggest Pats fans ever, I guess.”
Guest was meeting up with the Stokeses, as Brendon had traveled from Newton Square, Pennsylvania, to New Hampshire to meet up with his father.
“We started a tradition when he was younger, and being able to carry on that, getting him into the Patriots, we had something in common,” James Stokes said. “That grew a bond between the two of us. We’ve had great years going on and on. So why ruin that?”
Added Brendon: “I couldn’t really tell you why we get up so early for this, but it’s just a tradition. Why not do it?”