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NIU Students, Mascot Fire Up Naperville Before Historic Orange Bowl Game

Northern Illinois University's street team made a visit to downtown Naperville Friday to spread awareness and excitement about football team's upcoming New Year's Day game in Miami.

For the Orange Bowl-bound Northern Illinois University Huskies, final destination is Miami on Jan. 1.

But not before some promotional pit stops to fire up fans along the way.

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Supplied with 2,000 oranges and a whole lot of energy, 10 NIU students and school mascot Victor E. Huskie made a visit to downtown Naperville on Friday as part of a day-long trek from DeKalb to Chicago to the southwest suburbs and back. 

Car horns honked along Main Street while "Vic" posed for photos with fans and handed out oranges to curious pedestrians outside Dean's Clothing Friday afternoon. 

Before arriving in Naperville, the Huskies Street Team had spent the morning throughout downtown Chicago as well as a visit to Glen Ellyn, spreading the word about the football team's upcoming historic bowl game. 

On Jan. 1, the Huskies will make history as they become the first Mid-American Conference team to play in a Bowl Championship Series game. NIU goes head-to-head with Florida State at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on New Year's Day for the Orange Bowl. 

For the Huskies, and fans alike, the excitement level couldn't be any higher, especially during Friday's visit. 

"It's been great, the response has been great. Even people that aren't affiliated with the university have come up and said 'Hey we're rooting for ya,'" said Paul Palian, NIU Director of Media. "It's all part of the awareness and getting people excited and aware of what's going on and the history that's being made."

Palian, a 32-year resident of Naperville, is certainly no stranger to the area or local NIU alumni.

"I grew up here, it's a great community and there's a lot of NIU people here," he said. "So, it's great to come back and share that with friends and neighbors this excitement that we're going through at DeKalb. We're in good company and it's just a great opportunity to tell our story."

One of those Naperville NIU alum happened to hear about the street team's appearance through a Facebook post on Friday. Karen Curran grabbed her kids and headed downtown to strike a pose with Vic and soak up the excitement. 

"We were so excited to come down and have my kids experience a little bit of what I got to experience at NIU," Curran said. "This is a huge thing for them, we are really excited."

After plenty of high-fives in Naperville, the street team headed to downtown Geneva before heading back to DeKalb. 

Tickets to the big game in Florida are still available by visiting or calling the NIU Athletics Tickets Office at 815-752-6800. Tickets, ranging from $75 to $165, are also available on Ticketmaster.

But for those not able to head south for the game, they'll be glued to the flat screen here in Naperville.

"We're hoping to have a party on New Year's Day or be invited to a party so we can get to see NIU in action," Curran said.

The Sentinel December 17, 2012 at 09:14 PM
GO NIU...my alma mater.

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