Hours-long train commutes, clogged lines through security checks and even feeling overdressed for the relatively mild temperatures didn’t dampen the moods of football fans who trekked to the MetLife Stadium for what many deemed a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience — Super Bowl XLVIII.
Chris Ilsley, 34, of Hicksville, said people headed for the big game were “corralled” for at least a half-hour at New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus station, where it was hot and crowded. He said many had dressed for colder weather, only to find the evening was warmer than expected.
Still, Ilsley was glad to finally make it to the game with friend Victor Cardis, 39, of Astoria.
“It’s my first Super Bowl. And it’s at Giants Stadium, even if it’s not the Giants,” said Cardis, wearing a Big Blue jersey. “We didn’t have to go far.”
Close friends, fathers and sons and mothers and daughters, many from Long Island, New York City and New Jersey, took advantage of the Super Bowl’s proximity to be among the 80,000 spectators who were expected at MetLife. The elaborate costumes — from face paint to blue-and-green mohawks for the Seattle Seahawks and horse-shaped helmets for the Denver Broncos — as well as effusive cheering and an atmosphere of celebration were worth almost any inconvenience, attendees said.
Eric Bremer, 40, of Garden City, and friend Jim Hollenbach, 40, of Madison, N.J., who wore Jets lanyards and hats with plush groundhogs, said they had no issues at Penn Station but found the Secaucus stop to be “backed up.”
Once at the stadium, however, Bremer summarized the opportunity to attend the Super Bowl in one word: “Awesome.”
Broncos loyalist Dina Deal, of Albuquerque, left Penn Station about 1 p.m. and arrived at the game four hours later, weathering lines from the trains and security. Police lined every entrance to the stadium, spectators were patted down, bomb-sniffing dogs and officers searched bags and helicopters hovered overhead.
“It was not well-organized at all. There was a lot of standing around,” Deal said, adding optimistically, “We’re here. Go, Broncos!”
Several Giants fans — including Gary Romaka, 52, of Wantagh, and Larry Decker, 52, of West Islip — said they had come to cheer on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who they called simply “Eli’s brother.”
Romaka and Decker, friends since age 11, estimated they’ve been to about 30 Giants games together, but never a Super Bowl. It was only natural that they attend together.
“We’re like lifelong buddies,” Decker said.
Bethpage resident and retired NYPD Det. Brendan Carney, 49, brought his oldest son, also Brendan, 18, to the game to share a “father-and-son memory. When is the next chance that we’ll get to go to the Super Bowl?”
The younger Carney, a student at University of Dayton in Ohio, joked of his father gifting him a ticket: “I’m the firstborn. Of course, he’s going to bring me.”