NORTH ANDOVER — Some people have likened Super Bowl Sunday to a national holiday on the strength of its ability to bring together family and friends — even if it’s just to camp out in front of the big screen TV — to watch the game and have a large chow down.
In recent years, NFL executives have even called for a three-day weekend to allow fans to celebrate the event. Some NFL fans find Super Bowl Sunday depressing, however, if their favorite team was eliminated from the NFL Playoffs.
But, how much celebrating or interest will there be around here now that the Patriots are out of the picture?
“For most sports fans, yes,” it is a national holiday said Steve Rigione, 50, of North Andover. He said he’ll be watching the game at his girlfriend’s place, because “I hate watching it in big crowds,” he said adding he is more interested in watching the game than socializing.
“As a matter of fact, I’m working up at Rockingham Park, we’re closing early so everyone can get home and watch the game,” Rigone said.
Since the Patriots aren’t playing, he’s rooting for the Seahawks. “I’m not from Seattle, I just can’t stand Peyton Manning,” Rigone. “I’d guess if you interviewed most people around here they’d say Seattle as well. It’s not so much picking a team that you think is going to win, for me it’s more about rooting against the player you don’t want to see win.”
Local Andover photographer Joe Frio agreed.
“I’m not rooting for anyone. But I’m rooting against Denver,” Frio said. “They beat us out for it.”
Frio does, however, think the Broncos will be the new champions.
“They have the second best quarterback in the league,” Frio said.
He said he is only watching the game halfheartedly and doesn’t care about the outcome. He believes that is true for a lot of New Englanders.
“Probably just because of the hype of the big game,” Frio said as to why people will tune in. “I’m sure the commercials and half-time show don’t hurt though.”
Scott Karekles, 42, is the owner of Captain Pizza in North Andover. For him, the Super Bowl is a big deal.”For a pizza place, it probably is a national holiday. It’s one of the biggest days of the year for the pizza industry.
“We have pizza specials, wings specials, lot of deliveries and takeout, basically, that day. It’s funny because it’s more busy when the Pats aren’t playing,” Karekles said. He said that folks seem to plan more of an event, go out and buy the food for their own parties when the Patriots are in the game. “I don’t know if they prepare more, but we do a bigger business when the Pats aren’t playing.”
He is also rooting for Seattle. “I’d like to see probably the Seattle Seahawks win, because you know Denver beat the Patriots so I’d like to see Seattle beat them.”
Though it’s a good day for pizza, Mike Fried, 30, the sous chef and manager of Burtons Grill in North Andover, doesn’t anticipate a rush. “We’re actually closing early for the Super Bowl. During the day we do have brunch, we’ll actually close at 7.
Some are skeptical of calling it a national holiday.
“I wouldn’t say ‘national holiday,’” said Valdo Nelson, 22, of Lawrence. “I know people who don’t even watch football. “I would love to (watch the game) but I’m gonna be working.”
Lawrence resident Manuel Cabrera, 40, also said it does not deserve national holiday status. “I think it’s a great event, but ... a lot of those things (holidays) are for fallen heroes, these (athletes) get paid a lot of money.
“Save the holidays for the heroes,” Cabrera said.
Still, Cabrera shared an allegiance with other New England fans against Denver: “I want Seattle to win, but I think Denver’s gonna take it.”
Merrimack College student Katelyn Sinclair said she will probably watch the game because it’s unavoidable.
“All my friends will be hosting parties so I am sure I will end up watching it,” she said.
When asked who she is rooting for, she said, “the commercials.”
“I’m totally watching for the commercials and that’s it. I love them,” she said.
Her friend Anna Bacala is watching out of love for the game.
“I don’t really care if the Pats aren’t in it,” she said. “I love football. I watch every year.”
Bacala said she is rooting for the Broncos.
“I’m not a Pats fan so that’s why I want them to win,” she said. “I am not upset at all the Pats aren’t in it.”
Abby Qualters agrees that the Super Bowl has become a national holiday of sorts.
“It’s a fun day for everyone. People have parties and watch even if you’re not a fan,” she said. “I usually always watch the Super Bowl, but if the Red Sox aren’t in the World Series, I don’t watch.”
Reporter Sara Brown contributed to this report.