CHICAGO — An army of 19 Mike Ditkas invaded Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta Sunday as a Chicago man’s bachelor party got Da Coach treatment in a big way.
A group photo of groom-to-be Jake Mazanke and 17 of his closest friends went viral Sunday morning as they pre-gamed for the Bears-Falcons game outside their Airbnb in Atlanta. There was a 19th Ditka about, too, Mazanke said.
The Ditkas — complete with real mustaches, ’85 Bears sweater vests, khaki pants and dark brown sunglasses — marched to the stadium, where Fox cameras had no trouble finding them and featuring them throughout the broadcast.
Mazanke, a lifelong Bears fan and a healthcare communications rep, thought about having a low-key bachelor party on his home turf in Lincoln Park. But his best man, Peter Archibald, called an audible: “What if we get a bunch of guys and dress up as Ditkas for the game?”
Friends from Mazanke’s hometown in suburban St. Charles to his former track and field teammates at Loyola University spent months growing mustaches before flying down to Atlanta for the game.
“Everyone was fully on board,” Mazanke said. “It required a lot of coordination.”
The Ditka swarm was as well-received in person as they were online.
“We probably stopped to take 500 pictures. Everyone loves Coach. My buddies were joking, ‘You’ll probably take less pictures at the wedding,'” Mazanke said. “I talked to my fiancée, Catie, and we’ve sent Coach an invite to the wedding. It’s coming formally in the mail.”
The bachelor party weekend kicked off Friday with a touch football game of Ditkas. Mazanke said he “couldn’t imagine a better weekend.”
“We got an Airbnb, hung out, had some great food, and, you know, a couple of cocktails; it was just great to get all the guys together,” he said. “There’s only a few times in life you can do something like that. And I think that’s what resonated with people.”
The couple grew up in the suburbs and met as students at Loyola. She’s also a diehard fan and braved cheesehead territory with Mazanke last season for the Bears-Packers game. They plan to get married in September at Madonna Della Strada Chapel on Loyola’s campus, Mazanke said.
The Atlanta trip didn’t produce a Bears victory, but Mazanke said he’s hopeful. He predicts a playoff run in two years and a potential return of the Ditkas.
“We’ll just have to run it back next year,” he said.