Eli Manning Expected to Draw Hundreds to Chatham
Parking, traffic could be an issue Monday afternoon as N.Y. Giant appears at Legends Gallery.
Randy Dembo, one of the owners of Legends Gallery, said he expects New York Giants fans to line up at about 3 p.m. Monday for the sold-out appearance by quarterback Eli Manning, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
"With Victor Cruz, it started at 1 p.m., and [people] were here at 9:30 [a.m.]," Dembo said.
For Manning, Dembo said the 250 tickets for the event, which ranged from $120 to $350, could bring 1,000 people into Chatham Borough Monday.
Each ticket admits a group of people but only pays for one signature from Manning. "We're not encouraging people to bring a throng of people with them," Dembo said.
Ticket prices include an item for Manning to sign, such as miniature or full-size helmets or footballs, a jersey or a photograph.
Giants fans are both closer to home and further away than one might think. Even with the New York Jets' practice facility in nearby Florham Park, Dembo said he has sold tickets for Eli Manning to Chatham residents who plan to bring their sons directly from recreation football practice.
"The enthusiasm from the kids has been amazing. They're really excited," Dembo said. "They'll be coming directly from practice to the event, so they'll be in their full football uniforms. I think that's going to be great for photos."
Dembo also said he sold a ticket to a man from Michigan, who will fly to New Jersey for the event. "He's getting something specifically for a friend of his," Dembo said.
Another man from New Mexico purchased tickets but will not attend the event personally. "He sent me helmets and footballs from New Mexico to send back to him," Dembo said.
One couple from Long Island purchased a ticket to have Manning to sign a wedding invitation. "They're paying to have Eli sign 'Congratulations on your nuptuals' for their friends, who are big Giants fans," Dembo said. "I thought that was pretty cool."
According to Dembo, this is Manning's first public appearance to sign autographs since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in February.
Eli Manning’s appearance is courtesy of Steiner Sports Memorabilia.
Public Safety and Traffic
To manage safety for the event, Dembo said he hired two off-duty police officers. When Legends hosted Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul in separate events earlier this year, they hired only one officer.
"It's a pretty ruly group, mostly families and their children," Dembo said. "It goes pretty smoothly."
If Dembo's prediction that fans will arrive starting at 3 p.m. is correct, the borough could see the influx just as children begin to walk home from school. Traffic, especially along Main Street, could back up significantly as fans search for parking.
At past signings, on-street parking on Main Street and North Passaic Avenue filled up quickly, as did parking in the Library of the Chathams.
"There's more parking than meets the eye, but you need to look for it," Dembo said.
The Chatham Borough Police Department plans to have a full patrol staff nearby, and police will enforce parking limits during the event.
Robert Sweetin, the traffic safety officer for Chatham Borough, said parking may be "a little bit of an issue." Because the event starts after rush hour, however, he expects some commuter parking to open up.
"Bowers Lane [parking lot, accessible via South Passaic Avenue] should be pretty clear by the time it starts, and Center Street East and West should start emptying out beforehand," Sweetin said.
Also, on-street parking on North Passaic Avenue has a three-hour limit, and other residential streets will have some parking available.
Still, Sweetin said, "I would suggest that if [ticket-holders] can't walk to Legends that they carpool or take the train."
The Chatham New Jersey Transit station is two blocks southwest of Legends Gallery at Fairmount Avenue and Railroad Plaza.