By the time Super Bowl 50 kicks off, it will be Super Bowl Monday for lifelong Carolina Panthers fan Patrick Anderson.
Anderson grew up in Fayetteville and has been a “100 percent Panthers fan” since the day in 1993 that the NFL announced it was expanding into the Carolinas – even after living in Denver, “enemy territory,” since 2004.
But he’s on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa, with his girlfriend and they’ll be at the Casa Nostra sports bar for the kick-off at 1:30 a.m. Monday.
“It’s a once-in-a lifetime experience,” said Anderson, who packed a Panthers T-shirt (it’s summer there), hat and hoodie. Thursday he wore his hat to dab atop South Africa’s Table Mountain, one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. “I’m sure that I will always remember the Super Bowl that I watched from 10,000 miles away (it’s 9,300 miles from Denver).”
Other Panthers fans may not be watching from such a great distance, but their Super Bowl plans are nonetheless exotic – here and around the globe.
Alex Miller of Atlanta, a Greensboro native, Duke graduate and Panthers fan, will be watching in Cologne, Germany, where he’s gone for Koln Karneval (Germany’s version of Mardi Gras) with two friends – one is Conor Irwin, a former Duke football player.
The trip was planned nine months ago, long before the season began.
As the Panthers kept winning, Miller, 26, wondered if he should try to back out. He attended both playoff games, including the NFC championship.
“They won, and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what have we done?’ ” he said.
They’ll be watching at Joe Champs American Sportsbar in Cologne. There’ll be no German wiener schnitzel and Kölsch beer served up for that crowd. The bar’s offerings on Super Bowl night: cheeseburgers and Budweiser.
“We’re going all the way to Germany to drink cheap beer and eat American cheeseburgers,” Miller said. “I suspect there’ll be mostly Germans in the bar and I’ll probably be the first Panthers fan they’ve met.
“Hopefully, I can get them to cheer with me for my team.”
‘It’s a win-win’
Some fans made early plans to flee winter in Charlotte for warmer climes – unaware of the kink the Panthers would throw in their vacations.
Salesman Van Chilton won an all-expenses paid trip to Barbados from his company. He and his wife Reece are there with other couples from the Illinois-based company. Sunday, they’re supposed to attend a company dress-up dinner at the El Conquistador resort. It begins right at kickoff.
Reece, a devout fan, packed her laptop, and before leaving Charlotte called the restaurant to make sure it had Wi-Fi. She also packed a black dress that looks like it’s been shredded by panther claws, a Panthers top hat and sparkling Panthers blue wedge heels with the team logo.
“I’m glad to be in Barbados, but sad we could potentially miss the parade uptown,” she said. “We’re grateful for the trip – it’s just the timing could have been a little better.”
Panthers fans Regan Sermersheim of Charlotte and friends Carrie Collins and Brooke Bosak aren’t letting a little distance get in the way of sharing sun in Jamaica with their Super Bowl watching at the Grand Palladium – overlooking the Caribbean.
As soon as they arrived last week, they put on their Panthers jerseys and dabbed at the beach.
“It’s 80 and sunny,” Sermersheim said. “I’m excited about trying to turn the whole place into Panthers fans.”
If you happen to be in the British Virgin Islands and see a 48-foot catamaran flying a Panthers flag, that’s just Charlotte lawyer Gil Middlebrooks, his wife Carolyn and son Charlie, and three other couples from the area.
They planned their sailing trip in October, when the Panthers were 6-0, so who knew then that they’d be a Super Bowl team?
About mid-afternoon, Middlebrooks and the others will come about and head for the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda. There, they’ll dinghy in and stake claim by spreading a Panthers tablecloth over a table at The Quarterdeck Club, where a giant open-air projection TV is set up.
“I see it as a win-win,” Middlebrooks said. “If we win, we’re in the British Virgin Islands. If we lose, we’re in the British Virgin Islands.”
Cam larger than life
Not everybody has to travel to an extravagant time zone to find a fanciful Super Bowl experience.
Katharine and Alex Correll don’t have to leave the back yard of their house near the Foxcroft neighborhood. The yard dips to a creek, crosses and backs up to four acres of woodland.
There on the other side of the creek, Alex, with a lot of help, has strung between two trees a screen that’s the equivalent of a 180-inch flat-screen TV. Using a commercial projector rescued from the trash heap, he’ll beam the game onto the screen with amazing clarity, Katharine Correll said.
The 50 Super Bowl guests will set up lawn chairs on the other side and cheer on the Panthers as they eat 100 pounds of pork, chicken and ribs roasted on an pit 8 feet by 4 feet.
“We were going for the biggest house-party screen in Charlotte,” she said. “The roasting pit throws off a lot of heat and keeps everybody warm. Cam will be life-sized in the back yard – larger than life.”
In Mooresville, Charlene and Bryan Clarke are expecting 42 guests to their “Panther Cave,” a 1,000-square-foot basement shrine to their favorite team.
It’s everything Panthers: 34 autographed pairs of gloves from Panthers players, eight pairs of cleats, 29 autographed Panthers jerseys, including a practice jersey from former Panther Greg Hardy. “He came off the practice field and took it off and handed it to me,” Charlene said.
They’ve even got former Panther DeAngelo Williams’ leather “man cave” sofas that Charlene bought from Williams before he left Charlotte for Pittsburgh. “He called and asked if we wanted them,” she said. “He autographed them. We like collecting, but even more, we do this because we love the team.”
On their Super Bowl menu: Chili and “smoked Bronco butt.”