Spartanburg prepares Panthers party

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Spartanburg once again will celebrate the opening of the Carolina Panthers 2005 training camp at Wofford College with a community party, to be held on Friday, July 29, at Barnet Park in downtown. Festivities are set to begin at 7 p.m., and will include performances by the Top Cat cheerleaders and Panthers mascot Sir Purr.

Spartanburg sets July 29 community party to celebrate Panthers' arrival Event at Barnet Park to feature Top Cat cheerleaders, music, games

It will be presented by the City of Spartanburg, along with the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Team Spartanburg sports council, and Wofford College. WSPG Radio (1400 AM) is a media sponsor.

"Spartanburg is excited and proud to host the Carolina Panthers for the 11th year this year, and this will be a celebration of what that means to the community," says Mandy Merck, director of special events and festivals for the City of Spartanburg. "We do not anticipate having Panthers players participating in the event, because, after all, they come to Spartanburg to work hard to get ready for what we hope will be another Super Bowl season. This event is designed for the community to celebrate having the team here and to kick off a great summer training camp season."

The community celebration is free and open to the public, with food and drink available for purchase. There will be prizes and giveaways as well as games and other activities for children and adults alike. It also will feature highlights of the Panthers' 2004 season on a large video screen, and fireworks.

The Panthers will hold their first practice at Wofford on Saturday, July 30, at 9:10 a.m.; a second practice is scheduled at 3:10 p.m. Training camp will continue through Wednesday, Aug. 24.

All training camp practices are free and open to the public. The Panthers will normally practice twice a day at 9:10 a.m. and 3:10 p.m. with each practice session lasting between 90 minutes and two hours. Practice times and locations are subject to change. To see the full schedule, go to www.TeamSpartanburgSC.org.

On opening day, Wofford College will host a punt, pass and kick competition between practices for children ages 12 and under. Cost to participate will be $10, which includes a T-shirt and a ticket to the Wofford Terriers' home opener on Sept. 3 against Georgetown, where the "finals" will be held. For information, contact Lenny Mathis at 597-4090.

Throughout training camp, children will be able to once again enjoy the Panthers Experience, a series of interactive games where fans can test their skills. It will be open from 9-11 a.m. and from 3-5 p.m. every practice day from July 30 through Aug. 18 with some exceptions. (Go to www.Panthers.com for a complete schedule.) Children ages 6-13 also will be able to register at most morning practices to be a Panthers Pal, who will have the opportunity to view the last part of practice from a special location and to meet players following practice. Register at the CVB tent outside the main gate.

Training camp typically is the best chance for fans to get autographs. Autograph seekers should bring a marker and an autographable item. Signing autographs is something special players do for their fans, but it is not required. Not every player will sign autographs every day. Though training camp is entertainment for the fans, it is hot and hard work for the players.

For information on training camp, go to www.TeamSpartanburgSC.org or call the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau at 594-5050 or 1-800-374-TEAM.

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