Super Bowl parties minimized with pandemic edging on
A basement in Ohio with plenty of Detroit Lions gear, memorabilia and collector's items will be the location for the DeVito family's Super Bowl watch party.
However, unlike past years, game day on Sunday won't include a house full of relatives and friends shouting at the TV, nor will there be an abundance of finger foods for the taking.
Instead, the DeVitos will limit the Super Bowl party at their Youngstown home to their family of five with a few boxes of pizzas to turn what usually would be one of the biggest celebrations in sports into a small, quiet gathering.
"Things have changed in that aspect where the options are pretty limited so we're just going to play it safe this year," Patrick DeVito, 33, said.
The title game between the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is just the latest event to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus outbreak nears the one-year mark.
DeVito used extra time during the early months of the pandemic to fill his den filled with Lions paraphernalia that he collected over the years, turning it into a perfect place for watching sports. Sunday, he and his family will gather there again, just as they did each week for Lions games.
"It probably won't be any different than the Sundays we've been having watching the Lions. We'll just get some food, hang out, watch the game. It'll definitely be different from how we're used to doing things for the Super Bowl," said DeVito.
On Wednesday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned against Super Bowl gatherings, saying such gatherings could be "super spreader" events.
He said during TV interviews Wednesday that now isn’t the time to invite people over for watch parties because of the possibility that they’re infected with the novel coronavirus and could sicken others.
“You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show. “You just don’t know if they’re infected, so, as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it.”
Concerns about the virus have led Joe Luckenbill to drastically curtail his traditional Super Bowl party.
For the past 15 years, the Michigan State University alumnus has hosted about 20 relatives and friends for a Super Sunday potluck complete with football-themed decorations around his New Jersey home.
This year, there will be just three guests — Luckenbill and his parents — and a lot less food.
"I wish we could have had the party with everyone here, so it is definitely a bummer but it is best to not have one this year, just to be as safe as possible," he said.
Restaurants and businesses are also feeling the effects of state executive orders that are limiting the size of Super Bowl celebrations.
Although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the ban that kept people from sitting down at restaurants and bars on Feb. 1, the limitations of 25% capacity and a 10 p.m. curfew still have owners worried about missing out on what's normally one of the busiest and most profitable days of the year.
The restrictions have forced restaurants to get creative.
Smokey G's Smokehouse in Detroit is advertising a meat platter for all "game day needs, while The Apparatus Room downtown is offering private dining suites for Super Bowl tailgaters.
Virtual events are also an option. Cooking with Cocktails, a Detroit company that offers cooking classes, is hosting a virtual class on Zoom on Super Bowl Sunday to teach viewers how to make appetizers and cocktails.
For businesses and private hosts alike, this year's celebrations are about making the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
"Hopefully next year ,we can all get together again for a party," said Luckenbill.