Steelers fans take party to the streets

February 2, 2009 12:37:11 PM PST
Gold and black-clad fans with Steelers' iconic Terrible Towels waving in the air partied into the early morning hours Monday in an impromptu block party across Pittsburgh to celebrate the team's historic sixth Super Bowl win. In pockets of the city, fans went a little too far, police said.

More than 100 people were arrested, mostly for failing to disperse from various locations. One officer suffered a possible broken arm and some revelers broke windows, threw bottles at police - including at a state trooper on horseback - and engaged in fights, city police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

Couches and several garbage containers were set on fire, and several vehicles were overturned as police responded to more than 400 emergency calls during the game and a similar number in the 2½ hours after it ended, Richard said.

Police in riot gear and on horseback were out in force in the city's Oakland neighborhood near the University of Pittsburgh, where thousands of people gathered, and also along a quirky strip of bars known as the South Side. City officials had about 400 police on the streets as a precaution, but they mostly kept watch and let the loud and rowdy celebration run its course.

At least one person was arrested for arson and two others for drunken driving.

Later in the day, city officials announced a victory parade for the Steelers will be held Tuesday. An estimated 250,000 fans turned out for a parade in 2006 to celebrate the Steelers' Super Bowl victory over Seattle.

Moments after the Steelers sealed the 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday night, revelers poured out of Pittsburgh bars, and some broke out in song, bellowing Queen's "We are the Champions." The Steelers are the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.

Yellow confetti swirled in the air, people released gold and black balloons and Super Bowl championship paraphernalia was up for sale in the middle of the street.

Crowds spilled out of the doors of Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh's famous gut-busting sandwich shop.

Rocky Plassio, a 32-year-old high school teacher from the suburb of Washington, had his 3-year-old son, Noah, perched on his shoulders. The elder Plassio made sure his son didn't miss the celebration.

"The last time the Steelers won, he was an infant," Rocky said. "If you're from Pittsburgh, the Steelers are really part of your culture. It's in your blood."

Nearby, Jim Jacobs, 43, had his 8-year-old son, Marcus, on his shoulders and 9-year-old Luke by his side. They traveled from the suburb of Mt. Washington and, even when the Steelers were losing late in the game, Marcus was preparing for the celebration.

"We're going to have a hard time getting them up for school tomorrow, and they are home schooled," Jim Jacobs said about 90 minutes after the game ended.

Brittany Barcoay, 21, drove seven hours from Liberty University in Virginia just to be in her hometown for the Super Bowl and celebrated outside the South Side bar Town Tavern, which sported a "Steeler Tavern" banner.

"I have never had so much pride in my city, ever," said Barcoay, decked out in a Jerome Bettis jersey.

Bars were packed in the area popular with college students and the 20-something crowd, with music blaring.

One man carried a life-size cutout of President Barack Obama, with a Terrible Towel draped around the neck, while a one-man band played in the middle of a blocked-off street and photos of players were projected onto the sides of buildings.

Dan Decriscio, 51, returned to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia and had the chance to celebrate yet another NFL title.

"This is awesome," Decriscio said. "I've been here for every Super Bowl. Every one is great. From the first one with Chuck Noll to Mike Tomlin; this is Christmas in February.

In one neighborhood south of Pittsburgh, people lit fireworks and ran outside and cheered after the game.

When the Steelers last won the Super Bowl in 2006, thousands of drunken fans celebrated in the streets and several small fires were set.

Pittsburgh schools delayed openings two hours Monday to allow for the celebration, but other schools were following suit after the victory. TV news stations were scrolling school delays for Monday as if it were a snow day.