After a year of playing in an empty MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants are throwing a party to welcome fans back to the Meadowlands.

The last time fans were able to see Big Blue in person was December 29, 2019, when the Giants closed out the season with a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Team practices are closed to the public this year as a COVID-19 precaution, but fans will be able to see one session before the start of the season.

Former QB Eli Manning announced Giants Fan fest on the team's website. The event will be held Wednesday, August 11 and will feature a full pads open practice from 6 - 8 p.m. The stadium will open at 5 p.m. The team says there will be games and entertainment in the parking lot and Manning promised "lots and lots of fireworks."

Manning and other past team members are expected to be on hand to sign autographs. Fireworks are scheduled to begin after practice ends at 8 p.m.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Getting a ticket proved problematic on Monday, but team officials are promising a fix.

With Governor Phil Murphy lifting all gathering restrictions, Metlife stadium is expected to operate at full capacity for the upcoming season. No masks or social distancing rules will be in effect for Fan Fest or for actual games. Fans will not be required to take a COVID test or provide proof of vaccination. The team is encouraging those who are not vaccinated to wear a mask.

8 sharks you may find off New Jersey's coast

 

Seven boardwalk games and how they can be stacked against you

Olympic athletes from NJ competing in Tokyo 2021

After the pandemic sidelined world-class athletes in 2020, at least 18 Olympic contenders with New Jersey roots have qualified for the Tokyo Olympic games. Some are returning after an appearance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 — while others find themselves in their first Olympics.

Here's the roundup of contenders, grouped by sport, with the opening ceremony set for July 23.