The Panthers missed the playoffs again, but they created another tradition this season: the Dancing Banana. Akin to the Rally Monkey, the inflatable mascot – on loan from the Tampa Bay Rays – performed its unusual dance routine to the Buckwheat Boyz' Peanut Butter Jelly Time at strategic times during Panthers games.
The Dancing Banana thrilled audiences – and the media – and even Panthers staffers, who made sure not to miss its performances. The team brought it out a few times a month to dance with the Sziro Ice Dancers. “We use it in critical games,” team mascot coordinator Kyle Hamsher said. “And we’d throw it into the script on a last-minute call. It was like our secret weapon.”
Anyone catch the performance with the nose mascot, the one representing Panthers' sponsor South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center? Dare I say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen an inflatable banana dance with a giant nose?
A little research shows the Dancing Banana is something of a cult phenomenon – from an online emoticon to an episode of Family Guy, in which Brian dons an inflatable banana costume and dances to Peanut Butter Jelly Time in an attempt to cheer up Peter. You can even buy T-shirts commemorating the episode.
The Rays introduced the mascot in 2006 and reaction was so strong, it now performs at Sunday home games. Kelly Frank, the Rays’ mascot coordinator, who hails from Sunrise, suggested the Panthers try it out. “My scheme to watch hockey for free,” Frank says. Check out her banana myspace page here.
For more on the Dancing Banana check out the Two-Minute Drill on Page 2 of the Sun-Sentinel’s sports section on Sunday. Watch "When Good Bananas Go Bad" - a performance piece filmed in the concourse at BankAtlantic Center. Below watch the banana dance at a Panthers game: