Tuesday night's chilly weather couldn't keep Spring ISD fans, families, students and district supporters away as they gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the district's new Planet Ford Stadium.
"It means a lot to share this moment with the community members that are gathered here tonight," Director of Athletics Willie Amendola told the crowd during the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. "The opening of the new stadium is a huge undertaking and a real milestone in the life of Spring ISD."
More than 700 athletes, drill team members, cheerleaders, band and choir students took to the field for the grand opening celebration. Several hundred attendees cheered from the stands while Dekaney, Spring and Westfield students put on a combined pep rally celebrating both the facility's opening and all three schools making it to this year's playoffs.
"I love this facility. I think it's gorgeous, and we've needed it for a long, long time," said Debbie Townsend, a member of the committee that helped develop Spring ISD's 2016 Bond, which made the replacement stadium possible.
Before the main event, bond committee members joined Spring ISD administrators, namesakes, board members and alumni guests - including former NFL players D'Juan Hines and Tony Ugoh - in the Randall Reed Center, where Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson thanked them for their support and Randall Reed's Planet Ford for its naming rights agreement for the stadium.
"We have had a long history with Planet Ford," Watson said. "They have been a partner supporting our teachers for years. And much like they've always done over the years, they transitioned from just supporting teachers to now supporting our community as well as our school district."
Planet Ford's General Manager/Operating Partner Shawn Burns, representing Planet Ford and the Reed family, said that supporting education was a key element of the Planet Ford and Reed family philosophy.
"Obviously we love our name on the sign, but we also understand what it's all about," Burns said. "We want to do our part in giving back to the community."
Spring ISD parent Kimberly Palacios sat excitedly in the front row of the stadium with her son, a prekindergarten student at Burchett Elementary School.
"We've been watching the construction of the stadium ever since it started," said Palacios. "Once it was completed, we wanted to come out and support the high school teams and show our boys what team spirit and football is all about."
As the fireworks show - presented by Planet Ford - came to a close, Spring High School sophomore Julius Sturms, who came out to support the performing arts teams from his campus, gave the stadium his seal of approval.
"So far, it's about the best stadium I've ever seen in my life," he said.
Board of Trustees President Rhonda Newhouse helped sum up the evening in her official remarks.
"Whatever our differences," Newhouse told the crowd, "events like this can always bring us together again, united by a sense of community and a powerful belief in our students and their future."