By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Food, drinks and friends are the prime ingredients for any Super Bowl party.
Considered the premiere annual sporting event in the United States, more than 100 million people are expected to tune in Sunday when the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
That means a lot of parties.
For Anne and Robert “Bo” Smith, Super Bowl parties are a tradition. The Findlay couple will hold their 27th annual event this year.
Anne Smith, who is an interpreter for deaf students at Findlay High School, said watching the game is fun, but the celebration has become more about reconnecting with old friends.
“This party is the only time we see some of these people all year. We always say we need to get together during the year, but we never do,” she said.
She doesn’t remember exactly how the first party came about, other than it happened a few months after the couple’s son, Greg, was born in October 1986.
“We had some friends over and watched the Super Bowl,” she said.
The 20 to 25 guests that year included her co-workers from Evans Office Equipment and members of her husband’s softball team.
(Just for the record: the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos by a score of 39 to 20 that year.)
The parties continued after that, she said, adding that everyone helped out by bringing food.
“We used to make a ham or turkey and everybody would bring a dish,” she said.
When daughter, Ally, was born in 1990, Bo Smith took over the duties of cooking and cleaning for the party, Smith said.
At its peak, the event attracted upward of 60 people.
“At one time we had a TV in every room, even in the bathroom,” she said. “That was a bit much.”
Many of their guests had small children so the party was a family event. The couple sent out invitations and the children would decorate the house with streamers.
“When the children got a little older, many families would leave at halftime because they had school the next day,” she recalled.
The couple’s children also began inviting their own friends to the festivities.
As the years have gone by and children have grown, the number of people attending has dropped back to about 25 “old faithfuls,” Smith said.
Food is still a part of the gathering, but now the offerings are mainly appetizers, she noted. However, a few guests still bring the same recipes they’ve been making for years like deviled eggs, pasta and baked beans.
And they don’t decorate anymore, she said, noting that it’s just more to clean up.
But there’s one tradition the couple does continue: supporting their favorite teams. Anne is a die-hard Browns fan, and her husband likes the Detroit Lions.
“They’ll never be in the Super Bowl,” she laughed.
But they still wear their respective T-shirts, no matter which teams are competing.
Anne said the couple plan to keep hosting Super Bowl parties because they both enjoy them.
“It’s a chance to connect with people we don’t see but once a year,” she said. “And it’s a fun thing to do in the winter when it’s cold.”
Josh Slough and his friends also get together each year to watch the Super Bowl. The Findlay small business owner and personal trainer said the tradition began when he and his friends were young and had parties at their parents’ homes. The group included his brother, Andrew, and Slough’s best friend, Cole Hassan, along with friends Brandon Johnson and David Hans.
As the men got older and started families, the parties moved to their own homes. The guest list typically numbers about 25 people which includes family, friends and children. Members of the group take turns hosting the party.
“Having kids there definitely adds another dimension to the fun,” Slough said.
A first for him this year will be having his fiancee, Elizabeth Sweet, involved, he noted.
Slough said there usually aren’t many decorations, although Roxanne Abell, who is this year’s host, “does more decorating,” he said.
“And there’s tons of food,” he said. “Everyone brings a couple of dishes.”
Hassan is especially known for his chili, said Slough, who typically contributes a couple of bags of Doritos and Oreo mousse.
“We’ll grill some burgers if the weather is good,” he said.
Nearly everyone at the party is a fan of the Cleveland Browns, although Hassan is a huge Broncos fan, said Slough, who attended school in Boulder, Colo. and considers Denver his second favorite team.
“Most of the crowd will be cheering for Denver,” he said. “We think Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and we’d like to see him win another Super Bowl.”
With a mixed crowd, it’s the men who mainly watch the game while the women like to visit, he said. The children like to play outside if the weather is good. A game of flag football is usually on the schedule as well.
Slough said he feels lucky to be spending time with friends. Besides the annual Super Bowl party, they also typically ring in the new year together.
“We really are lucky to have the friends we’ve had for so long,” he said. “It’s a lifelong tradition with some of the greatest friends and family a man can be blessed with.”
Wolf: 419-427-8419 Send an E-mail to Jeannie Wolf
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