Thousands of fans lined up on Thursday morning to see the New York Jets for their very first public practice this preseason at their Florham Park home.
Fans traveled from all over the tri-state area to be the first to catch a glimpse of Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, and all other members of Gang Green in the borough's Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
The practice, which is the first of two public practices that will be held this week, started at 12:30 p.m., but some devoted fans got there as early at 8:30 a.m.
Around 11 a.m. hundreds of people started filling the line to get into the Fan Fest, which started at 11:30 a.m. In the hour leading up to practice, kids participated in many activities at the fest, including bounce houses, face painting, and football games.
Many youth football teams from all over the area including Long Valley, Denville and Basking Ridge came out together to see the NFL squad make its first appearance back on its home turf.
Long Valley Raiders football coaches John Coleman and Ed Noonan took their kids–who are part of the youth football team–to see the Jets practice and to learn from some of their drills.
"They do some of the similar drills we do in our practices, which is pretty cool," Coleman said. "You always hear about the practice, but to actually get down here and actually see it is pretty neat."
Ethan Glick, 17, of Montville, has been a Jets fan his whole life, and came to the practice with two of his high school friends for the first time. Glick was happy to have his favorite team practicing just a few minutes away from him.
"I'm glad we can get out here and see the team in person," Glick said. "I'm excited to see Tebow; I hope he can spark the offense. I'm also looking forward to see how (offensive coordinator Tony) Sparano can turn them into a winning team."
Rising Whippany Park High School senior Ben Remaly, of Whippany, also said he's appreciates having the team up close for practices.
"It feels like the community has really accepted them and its nice to know that they're so close," he said.
Colleen Maisto, of Warwick, N.Y., said she woke up at 5 a.m. to be the first in line to see Tebow.
Maisto, a devout Christian, said she became a Tebow fan once all the Tebow mania hit. Maisto said she was never a football or Jets fan before Tebow, but after seeing his religious connection, she now considers herself a "die hard" fan.
"I'm so taken in," she said, "seeing his standing for the Lord, his work ethic, his commitment to the team, and his commitment to his faith."
The second public practice will be on Friday at 11:20 a.m., with Fan Fest and the Jets Shop opening at 10:20 a.m.