CHAPEL HILL – The national spotlight will be on the Tar Heel football team for a Thursday night contest against the Miami Hurricanes on October 17th. But the bright lights won’t just be cast on Kenan Stadium.

Tar Heel Downtown will bring the focus to Franklin Street for pregame festivities from 4 to 7 p.m., showcasing the best the Town of Chapel Hill has to offer to a national and worldwide audience.

The event, staged on West Franklin Street from Columbia to Mallette streets and centered at the 140 West Plaza, will hope to showcase the unique college town atmosphere of the University and Chapel Hill community.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt announced the big plans on Monday. He says he is excited to welcome ESPN and the entire country to the streets of downtown Chapel Hill for a “party worthy of that attention.”

“This particular event makes me particularly excited, because this time I am going to be inviting all of my fellow Tar Heel fans from across the region to come out and help us put on a great show for millions of viewers from across the country,” Kleinschmidt says.

Planned and coordinated by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, UNC Athletics and The Town of Chapel Hill, this fun, free, family-friendly event will be covered by ESPN. A Tar Heel alumnus, John Skipper, runs the leading sports broadcast company.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says Tar Heel downtown will be a great opportunity for folks around the country to get a glimpse of the character and cozy atmosphere of Chapel Hill.

“What I really hope that ESPN does is be able to highlight what a wonderful town Chapel Hill is. In all of the surrounding buildings, what we’ve been doing on Franklin Street, I think it is a great way for us to allow a lot of people throughout the country to see what Chapel Hill is all about,” says Cunningham.

Mayor Kleinschmidt says one of the attractive qualities of downtown Chapel Hill is the entrepreneurial mindset of so many business owners, continually branding and re-branding their businesses to offer new and improved services to students, residents and visitors alike.

When asked about the possible crazy atmosphere surrounding the huge national event on Franklin Street, Cunningham and Kleinschmidt offered up some advice.

“We want as many fans to come, but don’t be any worse than you are on Halloween,” Cunningham says.

“That’s setting a pretty low bar,” Kleinschmidt replies. “That means you can come have a good time. We’ll have fun.

At the event, there will be live broadcasting during the Countdown to Kickoff Radio Show on Franklin Street and live performances from Liquid Pleasure, Carolina Cheerleaders, and the Marching Tar Heels.

In addition, bounce houses and face painting will be provided for children while Carolina giveaways will be provided by the Rams Club and Carolina Athletics.