Tonight is like Christmas Eve when you are 6 years old. You just want tomorrow to be here so badly and you know that you have to sleep to make it come more quickly. But you are just so dang pumped that sleep will not be easy.
I live in Charlotte,NC about 1.5 miles away from Bank of America stadium where my Panthers play. I knew I was close when I moved back last summer, but didn’t realize just how close until the first regular season home game. I had the TV on in my living room as the National Anthem was playing, and all of a sudden there was this crazy loud rumble that kept getting louder. It seriously sounded like an airplane was landing in my driveway!
It was the Air Force flyover during the National Anthem.
(View albeit blurry from my back porch. The stadium, while you can’t see it due to trees, is on the far left by the big building that looks like Voltron with blue lights on it.)
Whenever there are flyovers, I now step outside to watch if I’m at home. And when there are big wins (like the championship game 2 weeks ago) that are followed with a huge firework display, I get to play my favorite game: gunshots or fireworks. To be fair, I live in a good area of town and it’s almost always fireworks.
Ever since we won 2 weeks ago and secured a spot in SuperBowl 50, I just wish I could bottle the energy and vibe to share with everyone.
My friends and I went to the stadium last Sunday morning to see the players off. We were there 2 hours early and the streets were already packed. Everyone was in team colors and just being so lovely to each other. High fiving, hugging, cheering. It was so inclusive and just infectious. We saw many of the players arrive and/or get dropped off by family. I saw Cam’s crazy Versace pants from a distance. Everyone who drove through those gates got cheered.
The sense of community and energy when the buses pulled out with our players gave me chill bumps. I’m not a big cryer but I will always remember how cool it was to be a part of such a huge, rather impromptu show of togetherness.
This week, I wore black and blue all day, every day. As did pretty much everyone else. Even most of the buildings in our skyline are lit blue right now. Friday was jersey day and I wore my jersey to work, as did pretty much everyone else.
Excitement like that is equalizing. Everywhere you went, you would compliment others team clothing and they would compliment yours. A guy at the light rail station by my office on Friday (who is a complete stranger) high fived me and my coworker and we discussed our Sunday plans.
I met some friends for Happy Hour last night at our dive neighborhood bar. It was packed, and just so celebratory. Black and blue, again, everywhere. People have never been friendlier.
I think the answer to the question ‘where is the most Bronco friendly bar’ is…in Denver.
I went to brunch this morning and people were yelling at other folks who showed up in team colors. What were they yelling? Go Panthers! Keep pounding! I started laughing as I overheard a woman telling the man with her that she bought blue hair extensions to wear tomorrow. She heard me laughing, complimented my scarf, and told me where to get them. (I’m not doing extensions, for the record.)
Driving home, I don’t think I drove past a single person outside who wasn’t in a shirt, hat, scarf or at least colors.
All of this to say…I don’t know if this is typical or not because having our hometown team in the SuperBowl is a new experience for me. The only other time it happened, I didn’t live here yet. But good grief, I am so proud of the infectious enthusiasm, camaraderie, and friendliness this has brought to our city.
And can we please keep it?