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03/28/2006 11:38 AM ET
Houston Astros Opening Day 2006
Sold out day to feature unveiling of National League Championship Pennant, country music star Chris Cagle, American Idol finalist Will Makar, annual street festival
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros announced today plans for Opening Day 2006 to be held on Monday, April 3, at Minute Maid Park. The Astros begin the 2006 season with a game versus the Florida Marlins at a special 6:05 p.m. start time. Astros Opening Day/Home Opener is sold out for the seventh consecutive season and starts the Astros National League Champions Week celebration. Other events surrounding Champions Week will be announced at a later date.

On Opening Day, the Minute Maid Park gates will open at 3:00 p.m., with pre-game ceremonies beginning at 5:30 p.m. Following is an overview of the day:

11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Opening Day Street Festival
12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Pep Rally at Street Festival
2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Opening Day Blood Drive
3:00 p.m. Gates Open to Minute Maid Park
5:30 p.m. Pre-Game Ceremonies Begin
6:05 p.m. Astros vs. Florida Marlins

The Astros Opening Day Ceremonies will feature the unveiling of the 2005 National League Championship Pennant. The ceremony will honor the 2005 Astros team and acknowledge previous Astros championship teams. Some of the biggest names in Astros history will represent the different championship teams including Nolan Ryan, Jose Cruz, Larry Dierker, Craig Biggio, Shane Reynolds, Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, and Andy Pettitte.

Other pre-game activities include a flyover by the 147th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard and an oversized American flag held and displayed by members of the United States Marines. In addition, all fans will receive a Rally Towel with the image of the 2005 National Championship pennant imprinted on it courtesy of The Methodist Hospital System and News Radio 740 KTRH.

The national anthem for Astros Opening Day will be performed by Baytown, TX native and country music star Chris Cagle. Cagle's debut album Play It Loud was released in 2000 and earned him the CMT Breakthrough Video of the Year in 2002. His sophomore album, self-titled Chris Cagle, was released in 2003. He has a new single out called "Miss Me Baby" from his newest album Anywhere but Here which was released in 2005. Cagle will begin a national tour in April.

God Bless America will be performed during the seventh inning-stretch of Astros Opening Day 2006 by Will Makar who was recently a finalist on FOX's American Idol. Makar, 17, was born and raised in The Woodlands, TX, and is currently a student at The Woodlands College Park High School. He discovered his talent after his two sisters made him sing "Bare Necessities" for their friends. In 1999 and 2002, Makar sang with the Houston Children's Chorus for President Clinton and President Bush, respectively.

Festivities surrounding Astros Opening Day 2006 will get underway with the Astros 5th Annual Opening Day Street Festival at Halliburton Plaza adjacent to Union Station on Crawford Street. The Opening Day Street Festival, hosted by Clear Channel Radio, will run from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is free to the public.

One of the highlights of the Opening Day Street Festival will be a lunchtime Astros pep rally from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. with Astros owner Drayton McLane, Hall of Fame Broadcaster Milo Hamilton, Astros Broadcasters Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond, Astros players and staff, and News Radio 740 KTRH's Ted Deluca. The festival will also feature live music by Rapture and The Shillingtons; live broadcasts from 93.7 The Arrow and 94.5 The Buzz; and food, drinks, interactive games, and prizes. Astros mascot Junction Jack will be on hand to entertain the crowd.

All eight of the Houston-area Clear Channel stations will be represented at the Astros Opening Day Street Festival including the Astros flagship station - News Radio 740 KTRH, Mega 101 FM Latino and Proud, 94.5 The Buzz Houston's New Rock, Classic Rock 93.7 The Arrow, The New Mix 96.5, Sunny 99.1, Talk Radio 950 KPRC, and ESPN 790 KBME The Sports Animal.

The Astros Opening Day Street Festival is sponsored by the following Clear Channel sponsors: Bud Light, Coushatta Casino Resort, US Army, Washington Mutual, James Coney Island Catering, Wings N More, Black-eyed Pea, Chipotle, McDonalds, Demeris Bar-B-Que, Chick-Fil-A, Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant, First Service Credit Union, Play It Again Sports, YMCA, Time Warner Cable, Events and Adventures, MBNA, and American Intercontinental University.

The Astros in Action Foundation, in conjunction with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and ARAMARK, is hosting the annual Opening Day Blood Drive at Minute Maid Park. The blood drive will run from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Union Station Conference Center on the third floor of Union Station. The blood drive is open to all fans, whether or not they are attending the Opening Day game with the Florida Marlins. Donors will receive an Astros t-shirt and a ticket coupon good for up to eight half-price tickets in selected sections for the Astros versus Milwaukee Brewers series (April 17-19, 2006).

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center provides blood and blood components to patients in over 200 hospitals and healthcare facilities in its 24-county service area. Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, and be in good general health. The donation process takes less than an hour, and one donation can save as many as three lives.

For more information about the Astros Blood Drives, Neighborhood Donor Centers, or the blood donation process call Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at (713) 790-1200 or 1 (888) GV-BLOOD (482-5663) or logon to

The Astros encourage fans to arrive early for Opening Day 2006 and be prepared to open bags for security inspection upon entry into the ballpark. Bags larger than 16"x16"x8" are prohibited. Fans will be required to return such items to their vehicle. Coolers are prohibited, and food and beverages may not be brought into the ballpark.

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