PanthersPalooza Event: A Big Hit For Panthers Fans


Many of you might be wondering, “What exactly is this PanthersPalooza thing that the title is speaking of?” Before it is explained, let’s go back in time and explain the background information to those of you reading that are not very familiar with the Florida Panthers organization.

When co-owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu bought the team in September 2013, their main goal was to bring this team to the promise land as soon as possible.

Having grown up in New York, they are both passionate sports fans and know firsthand what it feels like to embrace a sports franchise into a city. They are both family to one another and want nothing more than to be successful.

It was apparent right away with their motives for the future as they made the BB&T Center a place for Panthers fans to enjoy inside of a hockey-related atmosphere. In the past, the arena seemed like a mirror of the yellow pages with endless advertisements for upcoming events. Most fans described it as a “circus.”

Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers /

Florida Panthers

At the time, goaltending was a huge issue. To fix that problem, they assisted general manager Dale Tallon in bringing back proven veteran and NHL All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo back to South Florida, a trade that Luongo had been seeking for quite a few seasons.

Besides their main objective of making this team successful long-term, they noticed that while the Panthers have a small fanbase due to a lack of team success over the last fifteen years in a non-traditional hockey market, they are all extremely passionate and love their team as much as any fanbase in the NHL. Many have remained fans of the team through the revolving door of faces in the front office that failed at making this team successful over the last 15 years.

Viola and Cifu have been trying to connect with the fanbase as they see so much potential in this team’s future. Earlier this season, Cifu’s niece Amanda Cifu, whom is the Panthers Digital Media & Communication Coordinator, introduced him to Twitter as she saw that many of the Panthers passionate fans communicate with one another through social media.

Doug was amazed by what he saw. In a place like South Florida where it has only snowed once in recorded history, he saw hundreds of Panthers fans communicating with intelligent hockey conversations to one another about the team they all love like a family. Many of them had never met in person, but he noticed how much passion they have between the articles they write, podcasts they create, YouTube videos that they film, and so much more.

More from The Rat Trick

One of the most passionate fans is Lucas Geraigery from Boston, whom has been a Panthers fan since their first season in 1993. He is known within the Panthers Twitterverse for making his “Rats On The Ice” recap videos after games and is very involved with the rest of the fans despite being 1,500 miles north of Sunrise. He had last been to South Florida for a visit in 2003 and had wanted nothing more than to return to see his team again at home in person. However, his main reason for the visit was to meet the hundreds of other Panthers fans that he communicates with on a daily basis through social media.

Lucas started a donation account from and Doug Cifu was the first to be generous enough to help him out with his wish. Quickly, many other Panthers fans added their contributions and his dream came true over the last week. While Lucas was scheduled to visit, Doug thought it would be a great idea on Lucas’s last day in South Florida to honor all of the huge Panthers fans on Twitter by holding as he called “his own Bar-Mitzvah” titled “PanthersPalooza.”

It entailed a catered buffet, scavenger hunt, opportunity for fans to meet himself and Vinnie Viola, and best of all, chance for social media fans to meet one another in person.

Lucas attended all three home games against the Maple Leafs, Stars, and Islanders and has met many of the other diehard fans that share his love and passion of the Panthers through social media. Doug made sure to give him a full tour of the arena and had the opportunity to meet many of the players and front office staff. While finding another Panthers fan in Boston is like finding a needle in a haystack, Lucas described this whole experience as “absolutely unreal.”

PanthersPalooza was an incredibly huge success with hundreds of fans attending the event, from other parts of the country to other areas around South Florida. They all had a wonderful time meeting their fellow Panthers Tweeters, enjoyed some great food, and had fun on a scavenger hunt around the BB&T Center. And as an added bonus, the Panthers had won a crucial game 4-3 in the shootout over the New York Islanders to conclude the night.

After the game, PanthersPalooza guests were invited onto the ice to take a slap shot challenge. However, a small number of fans were surprised by a locker room visit where they could interact, take pictures, and receive autographs from players and front office staff. After the night was over, many fans tweeted afterward that this was the best night they have had as Panthers fans that did not involve a playoff game of their lives.

Many were so happy to meet one another in person and felt so lucky to had been given the treatment to get close to players and front office staff during the course of the day. This is not something that Panthers fans have had with past ownerships at all and many have never felt happier to be fans of this Florida Panthers team as they progress towards becoming a contender for years to come. They all feel all as one. As a Panthers family together.

The hashtag #PanthersPalooza was trending as number one in Miami on Twitter by the end of the night. Tons of fans on Twitter wrote how they couldn’t wait for the next PanthersPalooza.

A huge honor and compliment  has to go out to Amanda Cifu @AmandaCfew for organizing the event and of course Panthers owners Doug Cifu aka @dougielarge and Vinnie Viola for a night that hundreds of Panthers fans will definitely never forget.