Charlotte ready to rally around the Carolina Panthers

slyttle@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 8, 2014 

Excitement over the Carolina Panthers’ NFL playoff game Sunday will be highly visible across the Charlotte area over the next few days.

You’ll see signs on public transit, including the city’s light-rail line. A 33-foot-tall banner of support will hang from the county courthouse parking deck. Three days of pep rallies are planned at the EpiCentre in uptown.

And Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison is encouraging staff members to rally behind a team that he says has been a strong supporter of the school system.

The Panthers play the San Francisco 49ers at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. A victory sends the winner into the NFC championship game, with a berth in the Super Bowl at stake.

“The opportunity to host a home game during the playoffs is one that will showcase our best assets, not only to our residents, but to visiting fans,” said Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has declared Friday to be “Fan Friday” and is encouraging residents and businesses to show support.

Charlotte Area Transit System is putting “Go Panthers” messages on buses and light-rail cars. Adams Outdoor Advertising plans to support the team on some of its billboards around the city.

The three-day pep rally at EpiCentre begins with an 8 p.m. event Friday. For $15, participants get a Panthers T-shirt and will be part of a rally that includes the Panthers’ TopCats and the PurrCussion drum line.

The rally continues at noon Saturday with a carnival at EpiCentre, featuring street performers, face painters, live music and children’s crafts. Admission to that event is free.

Fans who don’t have tickets to the game are invited back to EpiCentre for another rally during the game Sunday.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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