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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heel Town Bigger, Better in 5th Year

But this year, the event will have a new look.

And organizers of the festival hope the facelift will help change the perception that the fun is strictly for children.

In the past, Tar Heel Town was located between Wilson Library and Kenan Labs and was popular with children for having two inflatable moon-bounces, face-painting stations and school mascot Ramses at its pregame party.

But planners for the event, which has moved to Polk Place this year, said it did not attract many students in previous years.

This year, Tar Heel Town has a new director and therefore a new "mayor." Matt Roberts, who works in Athletic Sports Marketing, has replaced Jim Ervin as mayor and has plans for change.

"(Tar Heel Town) was perceived as a kids-only activity," Roberts said. "We want to gear it to be more of a pre-game party."

Toward that end, Roberts has added a number of new features this year to heighten the spirit and atmosphere of the pre-game festivities.

The most prominent one is that the entire North Carolina football team will walk through Tar Heel Town on its way from South Building to Kenan Stadium about two hours before every home game.

"We really want to get students out there for the team walk," Roberts said.

But Roberts and other organizers don't just plan on stopping there.

Another new feature is the presence of the Oldies 100.7 Countdown to Kickoff show.

The radio station will hold the show live at Tar Heel Town with hosts Steven Gates and Greg Poole talking UNC football with the fans in attendance and callers.

"We would like to create an atmosphere like ESPN's College Gameday -- make it a fun, fan-interactive, creative event," Roberts said.

The site will include two 60-inch televisions equipped with DirecTV that will allow football fans to view the prominent college football games of that Saturday.

Live interviews with former players and a random drawing for a television also have been added to pique the students' interest.

One special event during the season will occur before the Florida State game Sept. 22.

ESPN The Magazine will visit as part of its National Tailgate Tour, bringing interactive games and prizes to Tar Heel Town.

"We are just one of 10 sites that they are visiting," Roberts said.

"So (the ESPN show) should add some flavor to the atmosphere."

Free to the general public and free of alcohol, Tar Heel Town also will serve Parker's Barbecue lunches for $6.25 in its mission to become a viable pre-game activity for students, in addition to its appeal to parents and their kids.

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