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The Dancing Banana: Mascot with a-peel

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:

Categories: Florida Panthers (108), Mascots (16)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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