Super Bowl Boulevard draws NFL fans to Times Square

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Super Bowl Boulevard, which opened Wednesday in advance of Super Bowl XLVIII. It runs from 34th to 47th Street along Broadway in New York City and is open through Saturday. Newsday Staff (Jan. 29, 2014)

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The Times Square area transformed Wednesday into a winter playground for football fans, complete with a towering toboggan run, NFL stars and an outdoor street fair.

A 13-block stretch of Broadway from Herald Square to 47th Street became Super Bowl Boulevard -- at least until Sunday.

Lance Somerfeld, 40, of Island Park, said he caught some air during a toboggan ride with his 5-year-old son, Jake.

"Then we wiped out at the end. What could be more fun than that?" Somerfeld said.

The toboggan run -- 8 tracks wide and 160 feet long -- rivaled another star attraction, a chance for fans to have their picture taken next to the gleaming Vince Lombardi Trophy. The prize will remain in place until it's awarded to the winner of Sunday's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

"We went to see the Lombardi Trophy and go sliding down Broadway, in a good way," said Dave Chametzky, 45, of Massapequa.

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For many fans, Super Bowl Boulevard is a chance to fulfill some dreams, from getting autographs from star players to having pictures taken emulating them -- catching a football while falling into a field of pink foam, for example.

Despite the cold, one man removed a shoe so that he could kick a field goal with his bare foot.

"They're loving it so far," said Gerry Seidita, of Manhasset Hills, who brought his wife, son, daughter and friends.

"It's a once in a lifetime thing, said Seidita, 42, who will make another lasting memory on Sunday. He's attending the big game with his family.

The Boys Choir of Harlem and The Rockettes performed for the crowd. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled giant lighted Roman Super Bowl numerals: XLVIII.

"As a big football fan and even bigger fan of the Big Apple I could not be more thrilled at what's happening with Super Bowl Boulevard," de Blasio said.

The Downing brothers -- Tom, 55, of Oceanside, and Jim, 48, of Madison, N.J. -- planned to see the glass-encased trophy after they sampled some of the other attractions.

Tom Downing said he planned on "kicking the ball through the uprights."

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Some critics have faulted the NFL for choosing an outdoor stadium in a cold weather region for the 48th Super Bowl. But the latest game-day forecast calling for temperatures in the high 30s or low 40s, disappointed one fan.

"I was hoping for snow. I thought it would be cool, but a lot people can't handle that," said Jimmy Cunniff, 33, a Garden City native who traveled from Arlington, Va., to spend the week with relatives on Long Island.

Super Bowl Boulevard may be particularly welcome because the region has been hit hard this winter with Arctic freezes and snowstorms.

"This means an escape from the cold winter," said football fan Richard Hounsell, 53, of Massapequa. "I'm getting tired of shoveling snow, and I felt I needed one day to myself."

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