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Fans Swing By Kroger for Area 55 Live Auditions

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

August 10, 2013

Roy Hibbert hosted live tryouts for Area 55 hopefuls Saturday afternoon at Kroger in Nora. Fans were dressed in their unique attire – painted blue and gold, customized jerseys, wild hair, boxing outfits and Super Fan – and had 30 seconds to prove to Hibbert in person why they deserved to sit in Area 55 each home game.

Area 55 Live Auditions Video Recap »

For the fourth straight season, Hibbert is giving away 55 season tickets to the most die-hard fans that impress him both in auditions and the finals, which will take place on Wednesday. He’s not only looking for loud and dedicated fans but those that are creative and willing to go above the norm to make it the best section in the league. Members of Area 55, which is full of a diverse group of Pacers fans, have chants they shout in unison and big heads they proudly hoist. They’re also known to heckle the opponents, particularly when players are at the foul line.

Marjorie Shackelford, known as “Rapping Granny,” was first in line for Saturday’s auditions.

“I’m always first in line,” she said. “This will be my fourth season, if I win. I’m first every time because I get so excited. This is the highlight of my life.”

There’s more to Area 55 than just the free ticket. They are all outgoing fans that share a passion for Pacers basketball. Throughout the year, fans in the section get closer while attending Area 55-only events, like going to the movies with Roy or playing dodgeball.

According to Rapping Granny, it’s the people in Area 55 that make it special.

“We’re like a big family up there,” she added.

Nicholas Smith is seeking to join the coveted area. Over the summer, Hibbert picked his logo design and then sent it on to Nike. It’ll be on his shoes this upcoming season. Smith showed up on Saturday wearing the Iron Patriot suit from Ironman 3, but he painted it blue and gold and wants to earn the nickname, “The Iron Pacer.”

“I went to a few games [last] year,” said Smith. “It’s really loud and rowdy and I want to be part of that.”

The sibling combo of Jessie and Jake Yeager were also vying for their first season in Area 55. Jessie, who attends the Chamberlain College of Nursing in Indianapolis, created the cheer from the Will Ferrell Saturday Night Live cheerleading skit. Jake is a student at Ball State so they got together Saturday morning for the first time to practice before performing in front of No. 55. They were pleased with their performance.

Hibbert will watch every single audition video (they all can be viewed here at Pacers.com or at PacersArea55.com) and then invite about 110 of them to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday for a special final audition. Hibbert, with the help of a panel of judges, will then choose his 55 winners for the upcoming 2013-14 campaign.

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