Nothing beats watching a Tampa Bay Lightning game live at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The roar of the crowd, the striking of lightning bolts throughout the arena, the cold emitting from the ice and of course the attention that some fans get between periods playing silly games on the ice and riding on the Zambonis.
What is a Zamboni anyway? The Zamboni is an ice resurfacing machine that was invented by Frank Zamboni in the 1940s according to Wikipedia . Tom Miracle who is in charge of the ice at the Forum and thus the Zambonis that resurface the ice confirmed that this is wide spread knowledge amongst Zamboni drivers.
During every period intermission at hockey games throughout the country fans are chosen to ride Zambonis. For those few short minutes these fans get to wave at the crowd, have their picture taken by family members and basically just be a rock star.
Just a few famous people that have ridden a Zamboni at a Lightning game include Jared of Subway, Geico Gecko, Darth Vader, Sheamus of the WWE and Rocky the Bull. The most famous person to ride is none other than the Cookie Monster.
Unlike most arenas, at Lightning games three to five people are chosen to ride a special Zamboni during each intermission that was developed just for the Bolts. Dubbed the Lightning Fan Zam sponsored by Sweetbay, this particular Zamboni was built, tricked out and debuted in 2010. It has a massive speaker system and two comfy leather couches on it.
Sometimes Thunderbug hops on the Fan Zam and joins the riders, other times the Lightning girls ride along with t-shirt cannons to amp up the crowd, but how do fans get chosen to ride?
During the pregame ice resurfacing the Community Relations team of the Lightning and the Lightning Foundation board chooses riders from charities, schools and other groups.
At first intermission the sponsors of the Lightning choose the riders. Anyone who is a sponsor for the team has a say in who gets to ride.
For the general public the best bet is to try for a ride during the second intermission. Second intermission is reserved for client services and group sales. Buying season tickets, group tickets or even just a single ticket to a game could be a gateway to a Zamboni ride. If you are interested in riding simply ask the person that sold your tickets to you so they can submit the request to Kelli Yeloushan, the Entertainment Production Coordinator for the Lightning.
Lastly, if you are hosting a birthday party or other event at a Lightning game, or if you know of someone in the community who deserves recognition such as an active member of the military or teacher of the year, you can call (813) 301-6900 and put in a request to ride.
Fan Zam rides are not limited to children either! Children as young as newborns and senior citizens over 65 and all ages in between have ridden.