Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Super Bowl celebrations abound in North County

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Bill Ryan⁄The Gazette
Super Bowl parties were hopping Sunday afternoon in both Emmitsburg and Thurmont. Firefighter Bill Boyd called out winning numbers during a contest at the Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg.
Neither football team playing in Super Bowl XLII had a name beginning with the letter ‘‘R,” but 200 of the Vigilant Hose Company’s staunchest supporters who gathered Sunday to watch it didn’t mind.

They came to the fire hall on Emmitsburg’s downtown Square, as they have done for the big game every year since 1993, for good times and easy fellowship, not to mention a casual dinner and drinks, and some fundraising for the company.

The fire trucks were parked outside, and in their place, people sat at long tables, hemmed in by four televisions and a white service truck upon which the fire company projected Sunday’s broadcast.

‘‘I’m not a football nut myself,” said Don Hobbs, a steel company employee from Gettysburg who said one of his projects had been installing the very steel holding up the hall’s vehicle bay.

‘‘Me, either,” said James Hobbs, Don Hobbs’s brother. ‘‘I don’t know a damn thing about it.”

Bill Boyd, a firefighter and chairman of the company’s Super Bowl committee, said he and his colleagues would be able to respond to any emergency call in minutes, as on any other day of the year. They did just that in 2006, when an apartment in Emmitsburg caught fire.

‘‘We got back before the Super Bowl was over,” Boyd said.

The Hobbs brothers — Don, James, Pat and Edgar — sat quietly at the end of one of the tables. The brothers grew up on a farm just on the other side of the state line, but all of them attended Emmitsburg schools when they were younger.

They figured they have been regulars at the Super Bowl party — Vigilant Hose Company’s fourth-largest fundraiser, which spokesman Tim Clarke said pulls in several thousand dollars annually — for eight years.

The company sells 100 tickets for $100 each, usually to the same 100 people who bought them the previous year, according to Clarke, beginning in September. Each ticket admits two people, and ticket holders are automatically eligible for some of the more than $3,000 given out in prize money.

There’s always a short waiting list, according to Boyd.

The Hobbs brothers shared the table with a pile of discarded pull-tabs, a lottery ticket-style fundraising tool.

‘‘We always donate a couple hundred above the tickets,” Don Hobbs said.

Meanwhile, attendees downed beer by the cooler-full and ate 400 pieces of chicken, 75 pounds of roast beef, and 13 homemade pies, in addition to a slew of sides and finger foods, all prepared by the ladies’ auxiliary.

The Patriots caught the Giants’ first turnover to little fanfare, with the exception of Brad Flory of Emmitsburg, the lone superfan in the spacious, well-lit building.

Flory was surrounded by friends who didn’t share his enthusiasm. ‘‘We don’t want the Patriots to win,” said James Jordan of Fairfield. ‘‘He’s just been more vocal.”

Mark Georges of Emmitsburg and Martin Williams of Fairfield nodded their assent across the table.

Thurmont Ambulance Company

A much smaller crowd watched the game in the vehicle bay of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company’s headquarters on Thurmont’s North Church Street.

The game was projected onto a 12-foot screen framed by two Peavey speakers. Lamps provided quiet lighting at the $25 per person affair, and Chief Lowman Keeney said the Super Bowl fundraiser was the first of its kind for the company.

Sean and Barbara Cox of Thurmont sat with their son, Adam Cox of Baltimore and his girlfriend Jenna Taylor, as well as their grandson, Travis Hill, 3, of Thurmont at a table near the screen.

On the next table lay a giant balloon helmet labeled ‘‘Budweiser” the Cox family had won for a door prize, and Sean and Barbara Cox had a laptop computer open, in case Travis got bored and wanted to play computer games.

It was after halftime, and they still didn’t know what they were going to do with the kitschy helmet. It could hang in a bedroom or living room, Sean Cox said.

Or, Adam Cox said, ‘‘If you turn it upside down, you can drink out of it.”

Keeney, who said the company provided 100 pounds of ribs and 120 pounds of chicken wings for a crowd that fluctuated over the first two quarters, hopes the fundraiser happens again next year, he said.