Army Navy celebrate at gala before big game

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - December 10, 2010

A beautiful night at the Army and Navy gala and everyone was in their evening best with many of them believing that their team is the best heading into Saturday's big game.

"It's a great rivalry even though we haven't won in a very long time. We're really pushing for it this year. We can feel it," said Ricky Garcia, a U.S. Military Academy senior.

"They're probably a little better this year, so they might score a touchdown this time, but we're still going to win," said Bryan Hamby, a U.S. Naval Academy junior.

There was a competitive spirit running strong at the National Constitution Center ahead of the 111th Army Navy game. The schools' pep bands dueled, the West Point cheerleaders swing-danced, while their rivals roared their own battle cries. Of course team mascots were on hand confidently swaggering through the crowds.

1,100 people celebrating another year of this storied match-up in a city centrally located between Annapolis and West Point. It brings more than 50,000 visitors to Philadelphia, generating a $35 million economic impact. But it's so much more.

"If you were around the city tonight, you have midshipman and cadets everywhere. There's just excitement. And I think this setting for this party couldn't be better," said Tom Muldoon, President of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

No doubt the rivalry is strong, but school leaders don't lose sight of the real message here.

"We're going to have a tough football game tomorrow. But the most important message is, after it's all over, we're going to be on the same team," said Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, Jr., U.S. Military Academy Supt.

"They are going to build friendships and a brotherhood that will last forever. So it's really a spectacular opportunity to celebrate what's good and right about our nation," said Vice Adm. Michael Miller, U.S. Naval Academy Supt.

The pep and the parties will get going again Saturday morning at Lincoln Financial Field. Kick-off is at 2:40pm.

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