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The Daily Tar Heel

New Tar Heel Town Premieres

Matt Roberts, assistant director of sports marketing and organizer for Tar Heel Town, said officials wanted to change the atmosphere this year so that it felt more like a pregame party.

"Tar Heel Town had that family event perception," Roberts said. "This year we added new things for students and fans because the survey (conducted over the summer) showed that's what they wanted."

Roberts said Tar Heel Town organizers were expecting about 5,000 people to stop by the event.

This year's Tar Heel Town includes a live broadcast of the Oldies 100.7 FM's "Countdown to Kickoff" show, catering by Parker's Bar-B-Que, two 60-inch televisions displaying college football games from around the country and face painting sponsored by the General Alumni Association.

For Saturday's game against Florida State University, Tar Heel Town also featured ESPN The Magazine's Tailgate 2001 Tour.

The tour, which is making stops at 10 college football games nationwide, offered a variety of inflatable games and giveaways to attendees.

Dave Ciemny, manager of the tour, said ESPN came to Chapel Hill to reach out to the Southern football market.

"(The UNC vs. Florida State) is a high-profile game," Ciemny said. "We're expecting to reach over 50,000 people at this game."

In addition to the new activities, Tar Heel Town now features the Old Well walk, during which the football team marches from the Old Well through Polk Place to Kenan Stadium, surrounded by the Marching Tar Heels and cheering fans.

Roberts said he and football coach John Bunting have been pushing the Old Well walk to help increase spirit before the games.

"Walking from the well was very emotional for me," Bunting said. "Seeing all those people out there -- it was extremely touching to have them out there despite the fact that (we were) 0-3. They're there supporting this football program and this football team."

Junior Jenny Duncan, who attended the Old Well walk and stayed for the Tar Heel Town festivities, said she liked the spirit but is worried that it will fade by the last home football game.

"This first (Tar Heel Town) was really hyped up, but we need to have spirit the whole season," she said. "I think all the people and excitement will really help the team."

But the addition of new activities for UNC students meant that some children's games disappeared from the lineup.

Rob Patton and his six-year-old daughter Emily, who come to Tar Heel Town every year, were a little disappointed with the changes.

"Emily gets more excited about the festival than the game," Patton said. "She was upset that there wasn't a moon bounce this year. There just isn't as much for kids to do."

Despite the elimination of some kid's activities, Roberts said he thinks the new Tar Heel Town will be more spirited than ones in past years.

"We want people to know that football Saturday isn't just a game in Chapel Hill," he said. "It's an event."

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