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Jackie Spiker’s GMC Yukon is joining in the Super Bowl festivities.
The Super Bowl transcends popular culture more than any other sporting event.
Whether people are football fanatics, just love the commercials or good times with friends, there is something for everyone.
There are plenty of options, from private parties to promotional events at bars and restaurants. It makes for a gluttonous day of football, food and fun.
The Nielsen ratings estimated 114.4 million people watched last year’s Super Bowl, the average 30-second commercial cost $4.5 million and the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s the second-largest food consumption day next to Thanksgiving. A commercial spot for this year is up to $5 million.
When the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers square off for Super Bowl 50 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS, there will be plenty tuning in.
Rhonda Robins, owner of R J’s Place at 418 N. Delmar Ave. in Hartford, offers a place for fans to watch the game and enjoy food, friends and cheap drinks.
“We have eight TVs, so people can see the game from anywhere,” Robins said. “We usually draw a pretty good hometown crowd.”
R J’s Place will have free appetizers, a taco bar, chili mac, drink specials and buckets of beer.
Some establishments go the other direction. Jimmie Johnson, proprietor of Johnson’s Corner at 2000 State St. in Alton, said they have closed for the last 20 years on Super Bowl Sunday.
“It’s a vacation day for the Johnson family,” he said, laughing.
Cathy Gross, owner of Bluff City Grill at 102 W. Ninth St. in Alton, is a new kid on the block for the Super Bowl. This is the third one Gross has encountered since opening for business. She’s had a party each time.
“We usually have a pretty big party,” Gross said. “We’re excited to do it. It’s usually a pretty good turnout depending on the weather, but I think we’re going to have good weather on Sunday. I think it will be a good turnout. We’ve got 9 big-screen TVs for our customers’ viewing pleasure.”
Bluff City is offering free wings in the bar from 4-7 p.m., loaded potato skins for $4.99, all-beef chili cheese hot dogs and homemade chips for $5.99, domestic beer buckets for $10 and $4 Bloody Marys.
They also have prizes and giveaways.
“Budweiser and Coors Light will be giving us some prizes to give away,” Gross said. “Last year we gave away a Super Bowl mirror. I’m not positive we’re doing that again this year, but it will be something similar to that.”
But hitting the bars isn’t for everyone; private parties are all the rave, too. Jackie Spiker of Godfrey and Nick Brooks of Meadowbrook go that route.
This is the fourth consecutive party for Brooks, while Spiker — a transplant from Denver — is throwing a party to support her Broncos.
“I usually go other places, but my team is in it,” Spiker said.
“I’ve tried to do everything the same as when (Denver) won the last time (1999). The last time they won I had gotten glass chalk and drawn all over my car and they won. Last time they went (2014) and played Seattle I didn’t do that and they lost, so I drew all over my car. I’m making sure I wear all the same stuff I wore when they won to go to the Super Bowl this season. I’m inviting all the same people over; everything is the same so I can bring them a little luck. I’ve been a Bronco fan since 1982.”
Brooks doesn’t have a dog in the fight; he’s just a football fan and likes to spend an intimate day with family and friends.
“I don’t have a horse in the race, but it doesn’t take away from any of the excitement for me,” Brooks said. “I play fantasy football, so I get a kick out of watching any Super Bowl. I enjoy the drama that comes with it and, of course, the party.”
He’s expecting 30 to 35 people to show up at his house and there will be games for his guests to play surrounding the game for a little fun.
“There are three games that I like to do that no one has to put money into. They just make their guesses and have fun with it,” Brooks said. “They still get a prize and it’s not something chintzy, either. It’s something I take pride in doing.
“The first game we do is we pick total points of both teams and the Super Bowl winner and that’s usually the biggest prize. The other games are guessing total combined rushing yards for the game and combined passing yards. For both of those games, it’s a guess without going over.”
Spiker, who expects approximately 50 partygoers, is sticking to a theme to support her Broncos.
“We have all our Fatheads on the wall for the Broncos,” Spiker said. “We’re going to be drinking orange hard soda — everything has to be orange and blue. The cheese dip is orange and we have blue nacho chips. We’re also doing some fruit and veggie trays and sandwiches, things like that.”
The Panthers are a five-point favorite over Denver and there are mixed opinions over who may win.
Spiker, of course, is pulling for her Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning, who at age 39 possibly could retire after the season.
Brooks thinks a little differently.
“I think the Panthers are going to win,” Brooks said. “I don’t see the Broncos beating them.”
Gross sides with Spiker, saying, “I think I’m going to go with the Broncos this year. I like (Peyton) Manning and I just think they’ll do it this year.”
The recent NFL approval for the St. Louis Rams to move back to Los Angeles has left a bad taste in some local fans’ mouths, but Robins doesn’t expect it to affect participation in Super Bowl parties.
“It will have no impact on me,” Robins said. “I think it’s sad for St. Louis, but if that’s what Stan Kroenke wants to do he was going to do it anyway, no matter what the fans thought.
“(The Super Bowl) is always a good time and we always have a lot of fun.”
The loss of the Rams certainly isn’t swaying the frenzied Spiker and her Broncos-themed day.
“You’ll see my car around town,” Spiker said. “It’s a big Yukon and it’s painted orange and blue.”
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