No one needed to tell Mike and Amy Frangione to smile for the camera. The lifelong Phillies fans from Mount Laurel, N.J., couldn't wait to take a photo of the World Series trophy with their two boys, 6-year-old Nicholas and 8-year-old Jimmy.
The family of four was among thousands who came to the Moorestown Mall in South Jersey on Saturday for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close with the coveted hardware. Some arrived as early as 8 a.m. ET, two hours before the mall opened and four and a half hours before the trophy's scheduled appearance. By 11:30 a.m. the line had wrapped around to the outside doors.
The majority of attendees were decked out in Phillies gear and no doubt in awe of the trophy. One such fan was Hilton from Camden, N.J., who came to the appearance with his three children, Jannel, Janise and Isaiah.
"This is just fantastic," said Hilton of the Phillies' World Series championship win. "I grew up eight blocks from Connie Mack Stadium and have been waiting for this moment a long time."
For some, seeing the trophy was just a reminder that Spring Training is just around the corner -- especially for Mount Laurel resident Ed Coroniti, who came to the trophy appearance with his wife, Diana, and 9-month-old son David.
"We had a great time when we went to Clearwater a few years ago," said Coroniti of the Phillies' Spring Training home. "We hope to get [to Bright House Field] again this year."
"Everyone has been real enthusiastic," said Blake Summerfield, a member of the Phillies' sales office who often helps out during the tour stops. "Many are asking where the next appearance will be, in hopes to get a photo with the trophy for a second or third time. Fans just can't get enough and can't wait for the 2009 season to begin."
So far, an estimated 31,500-plus fans have viewed the trophy since the tour began in mid-January.