RALEIGH (WTVD) -- On a normal year, Saturday would be opening day for the Carolina Hurricanes but it looks a lot different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There's no start date yet for the NHL season but fans are happy to be inside PNC Arena for the first time since February.
"I was down here at 8 o'clock and it was a mad rush," said Hurricanes General Manager, Don Waddell. "It was kind of fun to watch actually and then I stayed around for that first hour just talking to people and people are excited about just being able to be back in the arena."
One fan, Jerrison Dixon told ABC11, "I wanted to get a shirt and I wanted to look at Canes players gear. It's pretty cool because you've seen pro-athletes skate on the ice that you're standing on."
Fans had a chance to buy gear from their favorite players at the annual yard sale.
"Overall this isn't a moneymaker event," Waddell said. "This is an event to give some of the things that our players have worn, people don't get these opportunities to buy Sebastian Aho's gloves. They can say hey these are the gloves he wore in a game last year. I think it's a nice thing that we were able to do for our fans. "
Outside PNC Arena the Canes hosted a food drive partnering with Inter-Faith to benefit families in need during the pandemic.
"I can remember when we went to the bubble and we had all the fans that came out and surrounded the whole arena here," said Waddell. "Our fans are great and they supported us and this is certainly one way we can pay back to them."
One big question was on everyone's mind on Saturday - when will fans be back inside PNC Arena watching Carolina hockey?
"We're going to be prepared whether it's December or January," said Waddell. "We've done everything that we can to date to try to prepare the building. We've had hundreds of walkthroughs of how we would welcome people in with sanitizers and everything. We're putting a new system in to make it so they don't have to touch cash. We're trying to do everything we can and we'll be ready when the time comes.
The yard sale and food drive will continue Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.