It’s not an official day off work.
But it is always a Sunday, so the Super Bowl is as close to an American holiday as any other. And Steelers fans hoping for ring number seven watched from the sidelines this year.
Even though the weather wasn’t pretty – and there was little incentive for Steeler Nation to be glued to the tube – the “regular” crowd made local sports eateries and bars their seat for the big game.
There was plenty of appetizers, black-and-gold jerseys galore and even some father/son bonding.
At Bigdogz Grill along Bedford Street in Stonycreek Township, Jim and Tyler Hughes settled in over drinks and food to engage in that historic pastime. In fact, they’ve done it every Super Bowl Sunday for the last five years.
Jim is from Mayfield Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland – maybe the “Brownie the Elf” patch on his hoodie is a giveaway. He makes a weekly Bigdogz visit to watch the Browns games. His teenage son, Tyler, likes to join him from time to time, but there’s just one problem.
“He’s a Steelers fan, unfortunately,” Jim said.
Jim came to the area in 1983 – arguably the best time for Browns fans to leave – and a piece of his heart still shivers on the iced-over Lake Erie. The Browns’ career of heartbreak aside, his rivalry with his son keeps the game interesting.
“We get very competitive,” Tyler said.
“We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all just for fun.
“When the Browns beat the Steelers this year, he got me back for all the years I’ve been making fun of him,” he said. “We’re the only ones in the family that really watch football so this is our time to spend together and bond.”
This year, they’re laughing with each other as Tyler squirms over the 49ers’ potential of six Bowl rings, yet expectantly watches fresh-faced QB Colin Kaepernick.
“San Francisco’s interesting,” Jim said. “They’re young and Kaepernick is a fantastic quarterback. It’s nice to see somebody different, too.
“Coming from Cleveland, I’d be happy to see someone else have as many rings as the Steelers,” he said with a laugh.
JR’s Sports Den, along Oakland Avenue, set out a free buffet, just as it does every Steelers Sunday. When the play clock’s running, it’s easy to tell who’s rooting for San Francisco, or who just wants Baltimore to lose. One harsh reality of the sports bar business, however, is when the home team doesn’t make it all the way.
“I would love to have the Steelers in here,” said Clayton Shank, who’s been co-owner of the bar for more than 20 years. “You wouldn’t be able to move right now.”
JR’s did expect a halftime rush, however, and was set to serve an influx of patrons coming from private Super Bowl parties in the neighborhood.
At Woodside Bar & Grill along Highland Park Road, drink and food specials – as well as free Steelers swag giveaways – weren’t enough to entice fans to brave the steep and powdered white roads of the city’s Moxham neighborhood.
“(Turnout is) decent, but the weather kind of downed it a little bit,” said manager Jay Bean.
“It is better than last year.”
Even though the snow was piling up, there were no power outages to report – but the Superdome couldn’t say the same.
“At least that kept people here longer,” he said with a laugh.
Regardless of who’s in the game, the spectacle – or the commercials alone – are always worth the time.
Sure, the Steelers didn’t make it, but then again, think about how Browns fans – and Jim Hughes – feel.
“We’ll see,” he said coyly. “We’ll see. Every year I say, ‘this is gonna be the year.’ ”
It’s not an official day off work.
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Halfway house inmates can ease back into society
Prison life can be a time warp.
When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.
Crime board took aim at house
Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.
Homicides linked to center
Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Volunteers helping to spruce up community
Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.
Hartzok targets income disparity
Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.
Schools rise to leadership challenge
Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.
Student’s photos win awards
A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.
JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears
Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”
Bye, bye, Easter birdies
Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.
Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area
A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.
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