While I'm not a big football fan, I am a born and raised Carolina girl, making me a Panther's fan by default. I've more or less grown up surrounded by Panther's fans and have stayed familiar with scores and players. With a current record of 17-1, it's an awfully exciting season to be a Panther's fan and to live in Charlotte. The team is heading to California to prepare for the SuperBowl next Sunday, so the city celebrated with a "pride rally"..
I talked myself into attending the Panthers Pride Rally yesterday. I was hesitant to go because I didn't want to keep Jackson out of school, especially since it was only his second day of school in nearly two weeks. (MLK Day, scheduled workdays, and multiple snow days add up.)
They were closing some of the roads, so I made sure to park somewhere cheap and easily accessible. I took the kids to Discovery Place for an hour, before walking a few blocks to the park. The museum was insanely crowded with multiple school groups attending. We only explored the first floor because it was so chaotic.
Discovery Place has two branches. The kids version targets birth-age 5, and the museum uptown has an older audience. However, the museum uptown has a great room for younger children. Unfortunately, this space was overrun by older elementary aged children who were not properly supervised. Amelia tried to join them and I had a brief moment of panic when I couldn't find her. I grabbed her before she left the area altogether.
I was unsure of what kind of crowds to expect at the Panthers Rally since it was scheduled for noon on a workday. There were several thousand people in attendance. Here's an aerial photo I found online. I drew a red circle for where we eventually stood during the program. It was in one of the few patches of sunshine.
There was a DJ maintaining good energy, and we danced, sang, and cheered.
As we got closer to the actual stage, the excitement turned to frustration. It was colder and windier than I expected. The music was too loud. There were too many people. We had already exhausted ourselves at the museum, then spent an hour at the park waiting for the actual event to start. I fed the kids lunch to try and keep them occupied and content.
Jackson sat on my shoulders so he could see the action on stage. He kept whining, "I'm ready to go now". James and Amelia alternated crying. Maddie continued to eat graham crackers and happily point out every dog or balloon she saw. I was able to meet up with a friend from college, which was a highlight.
The program itself was a bit disappointing. Most of the time was spent listening to politicians and awkward cheers from the mayor, and none of the better known athletes made an appearance. Hopefully we'll be able to celebrate with a much larger event when the players return home as SuperBowl champions.
We rushed (as much as possible with thousands of other people) back to the parking deck so we could come home for a play date. We were running a bit late and our friends were already parked outside the house. Oops.
The toddlers were too distracted with company to nap, but all six kids quietly played with MagnaTiles and play food. People often feel like they would be imposing for us to watch their kids, but it's almost always easier for me when the kids have friends to play with. It's a win-win!