Doug Harman, former president of Fort Worth's tourism bureau, looked out at the sea of blue uniforms and asked for a show of hands.
How many of Fort Worth's finest, he wondered, knew the origin of the crouching panther on their police shield?
The officers were attending a hospitality training session, part of the preparations for Super Bowl XLV in February. And Harman was recounting a bit of Cowtown lore.
It was in 1875 that a now-defunct Dallas newspaper had an account of a Fort Worth resident who complained about a panther roaming Weatherford Street, even laying down to sleep.
The news account suggested that Fort Worth was so boring that a wild animal could walk around loose without consequence.
There are variations of the story, but it is authentic. And in 1912, Fort Worth's city fathers turned the intended cheap shot into a positive when they issued police officers new shields with a crouching panther as part of the design.
Harman, who also once served as Fort Worth's city manager, used the anecdote to illustrate how the police officers could make a favorable impression on thousands of Fort Worth visitors during Super Bowl week by imparting some of the city's history and culture, as well as serving as unofficial guides, directing people to restaurants, museums and other attractions.
Read the complete story at star-telegram.com