There will be music. There will be food. There will be activities for all ages among the many pre-game events leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Representatives from Secaucus, East Rutherford, the Meadowlands, and other sponsors gathered on Jan. 13 to announce a full series of events planned for the weeks preceding Feb. 2, when the big game takes place.
“The [Super Bowl] host committee’s responsibility is to deliver the game to the NFL,” said Jim Kirkos, President of the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s our responsibility to open our hearts and open our arms and welcome the entire world into our communities.”
In Secaucus, festivities begin on Jan. 30, the Thursday before the Super Bowl. Collectively called “Winter Blast,” the local celebration will take place in Buchmuller Park.
“We’re going to have vendor villages,” announced Secaucus Councilman Gary Jeffas. Thirty vendors will be selling food of various kinds. “Sports Authority is going to sponsor events throughout the entire three days. We’re going to have a beer garden sponsored by our local taverns. There’ll be warmers everywhere because it’s going to be February, end of January, so we’re going to keep people warm.”
In addition to different types of musical groups, Winter Blast will feature hockey games, free skating, cheerleading and the New Jersey Memorabilia Museum.
“This will be a historic time for all of us.” – Jim Kirkos
Saturday will include an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest football mozzarella. That effort is being sponsored by Toscana Cheese Company of Secaucus, in conjunction with Spectrum Works, a nonprofit organization that employs individuals with autism.
In fact, “Everything we do is going to our nonprofits,” according to Jeffas. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit several local organizations.
Tickets to Winter Blast cost $10 per day and can be purchased at www.northjersey.com/exposure. Discounts are available for multiple tickets.
Among the other speakers at the Jan. 13 announcement was Bart Oates, former Giant and current NFL NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee member. “As a person who has a lot of history with the Giants organization, being able to be on the first two Super Bowl championship teams, I can tell you this is an exciting time not only for my former teammates and myself, but also for the community.”
“This is a culmination of a lot of work and a long time,” Oates said. “A lot of people put a lot of effort into it.”
The suggestion to hold a Super Bowl in the New York area was apparently first floated in 2003. Nonetheless, Oates called it “an easy decision” for the league to hold the game here. “Because they know that the best football fans in the world are found right in this area.”
“We want people to come into our communities to see what a great place it is to live, what a great place it is to visit, and hopefully a great place to do business,” said Kirkos. “This will be a historic time for all of us.”
“We’re excited to have the Super Bowl here,” said East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella. East Rutherford has named their event “Meadowlands Tailgate Party 2014.” Admission is $10, with children under 12 free.
“I am excited that we’re actually having New Jersey bands here, as opposed to the Super Bowl. They’re bringing in somebody from Hawaii,” joked Cassella, referring to Super Bowl musical guest Bruno Mars. “We’ve got The Nerds and the B-Street Band and these are New Jersey bands. So I can guarantee you this. The music will be better here and there will be more [serious] football fans on Park Avenue in East Rutherford than there will be at the Super Bowl come Feb. 2nd.”
“All I know is Sunday, Feb. 2, you will be entertained,” said Biff from The Nerds. “Case closed. You’re dealing with two bands that have been around for three decades. We ARE New Jersey. This is what we do. I’m very proud to be part of this not only as an entertainer but also as a resident. We will show the world that we are a pretty cool place to be.”
Glenn Stuart from The B-Street Band had the last word. “I’m just happy that there’s a tailgate party. Because football without a tailgate party is soccer.”
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.