The pre-game event was sponsored by the Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities, which deployed a solid front line of fun, including Staples High School and P.A.L. cheerleaders, a magician, hot dogs, drinks, chips and cake. Attendees also had the opportunity to guess the Super Bowl's winning team and final score, to win prizes.
An added highlight was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Westporter Bill Meyer, whose volunteer commitments have extended far and wide across town. Meyer started the Westport girls softball program; served on the Representative Town Meeting for more than 16 years; mentors children in both Bridgeport and Westport schools; is on the Board of the Friends of the Senior Center; has been chairman of Westport First Night, and is involved with the Saugatuck Congregational Church Council, Sunrise Rotary and the Y's Men.
The Friends group, a nonprofit, was founded with the opening of the Westport Center for Senior Activities. "Our job is to raise money and augment the town's budget for the center with events like music concerts," said Jack Klinge, the Friends president. "This is our sixth Super Bowl party. The event was initially started to provide a celebration for seniors of Super Bowl Sunday, but now we open it up to children, teens and families as well. It's our gift back to the town of Westport."
Among attendees was Marce Petroccio, head coach of the Staples High School Wreckers varsity football team, with a few of his players. Speaking about the occasion, he said, "This is an incredible event, and Bill Meyer has done a terrific job of bringing the community together. We are more than happy to support."
A few hours before the Super Bowl -- pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens -- kicked off, Petroccio offered a prediction on the outcome of the game: "I say, 49ers by 4."
Paul Gordon of Westport, who attended the tailgate event with his family, and decked out in 49ers team colors, also predicted triumph for the San Francisco team, saying they would win by a score of 24-20 over Baltimore. "I grew up in San Francisco and have been waiting 18 years for this," Gordon said. "It's funny but my wife is a die-hard Giants fan, my son is a die-hard Patriots fan and my two daughters couldn't care less about any of it."
But, advocating for his team, Gordon added, "The Niners won five Super Bowls between January 1982 and January 1995, under quarterbacks Joe Montana, then Steve Young. The offense running now with Colin Kaepernick is amazing. The switch to him mid-season was controversial, but his pickup and playoff win support has been great."
Another attendee, Stan Bryk of Westport, stood out in his Giants sweatjacket. "I don't care who wins with the Giants not in there," he said. "But it's still a tradition to watch the Super Bowl. I picked San Fran, 31-24. I don't think it will be that close competition-wise. I expect a good scoring game."