Green and Gold Gala kicks off Bart Starr celebrations

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The first of many weekend festivities honor Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Packers legend Bart Starr was held Friday night at -- where else -- Lambeau Field.

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, Photo: Bart Starr / CMG Worldwide via MGN.

As the Green Bay Packers prepare to host their home game of the season on Sunday, fans and Packers alumni gathered for the Green and Gold Gala inside the Lambeau Field atrium.

The event also includes an auction and raises money for Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, Jeff Vande Leest, president of that agency, said, "Obviously this is a big night for us tonight because this is our biggest fundraiser of the year, but with all the energy this weekend the celebration of the legacy of Bart Starr and the family being in town it really has added to an otherwise good event that really made it somewhat special and exciting this year."

This year the event is also a tribute to Starr. At one point, his wife, Cherry, and son Bart Starr Jr. shared personal stories and took questions from the audience.

For some of the Packers alumni, it was emotional.

"Bart put so much into the Green Bay Packers. He gave so much of his life to the Packers to Wisconsin to the fans. I just wanted to come back here and pay tribute to him," former Packers cornerback Willie Buchanon said.

"I played for him, I played with him, and he's a tremendous teammate. A good coach, as well," former Packers cornerback Ken Ellis said. "A lot of people look at the fact he didn't win a lot of ball games, but that wasn't because of a lack of preparation. Just like he was prepared as a player, he was prepared as a coach as well; we just didn't win."

In its 31-year history, organizers say this is the first time the Green and Gold Gala was sold out, with about 800 people attending.