By Pierce Feltner– 

Charlotte, North Carolina was the place to be on Dec. 30 for Louisville and Georgia football fans. The fans had plenty to do the days leading up to the game and also the day of the game. There were parties, pep rallies, community service events and concerts to take part in. 

Both teams had their own team party, with Louisville’s taking place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The EpiCentre was the place to be for both sides on the night of Dec. 29. The bands and mascots from both schools came out to get the fans pumped up for the game the next day.

“We have seen a lot more Cardinal fans out here than Bulldogs fans out here tonight. We think they might be taking us lightly,” recent graduate Shelby Eisenbac said.

After the fans had a late night at the EpiCentre, many of them woke up early and made their way to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte to give back to the Charlotte community. This was the third year in a row, plus the NCAA Final Four in 2013, which Louisville partnered with the opposing school in a bowl game to give back to the community.

“We have tried to do the project every bowl game, but hadn’t been able to make it yet, so we were really excited to come down here today help out,” said alumni Adam Findlay.

“We planned our whole trip around making it to this event,” said fellow alumni Trey Fletcher. “We came in at 2 a.m. last night just make it here at 8 today. We’ve been to the last three bowl games and really wanted to get a chance to give back to the community.” 

These community service efforts started back in 2012 at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Glenn Gettings has organized the event, on the Louisville side, since the effort started.

“Florida reached out to me prior to the Sugar Bowl in 2012 and told me they wanted us to help out and replicate the service project going forward to the later bowl games we would take partake in. Now it is a part of the division of student affairs and has become part of my job,” Gittings, U of L’s director of special programs, said. 

“Today we have been able to expand the project and we have partnered with the Belk Bowl and are giving five individuals at the Ronald McDonald House tickets to the game,” Gittings said.   

After the fans were done giving back to the community, they headed down to Bank of America Stadium for FanFest. This gave the fans tons of options to have fun before the game started at 6:30 p.m. The Belk Bowl brought in two local musical acts to get the fans excited for the rest of the day’s activities. There were restaurants, bounce houses and obstacle courses for the fans.

Many of the fans followed Louisville to most of its games this season, such as senior Nathan Wimsatt, who only missed two games all year and hasn’t missed a bowl game since the 2011 Belk Bowl.

The fans loved the atmosphere of FanFest and all the activities they were able to do before the game.

“The Belk Bowl has been really fun so far,” junior Sam Harper said. “I really enjoyed the things they have had to do here. I really loved the Miranda Lambert concert they put on. We got here early just to see her.”

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal