Football fans find ways to defeat the cold
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What's black and gold and blue all over?
Legions of hypothermic Steelers fans who braved the coldest temperatures of the season to cheer on the home team Sunday night could still be thawing out today.
Despite temperatures reaching a high of only 18 the entire day, and zero degree wind chills by game time, it was business as usual for tailgaters and diehard fans attending the game.
"This is nothing," said Adam Jones of Greensburg, manning the grill with friends in an Allegheny Circle parking lot. "It's above zero. The sun's out. It's beautiful."
Donning jeans and a heavy jacket, Mr. Jones scoffed at the idea of special precautions for getting dressed, but was quick to point out the overstuffed sweatshirts and jeans worn by friends Jerry Smith and Nathan Snider of Greensburg.
"Let's put it this way -- these guys are like about 120 pounds normally, and they're like 170 right now," he said.
Like Mr. Jones, plenty of fans ignored the wind chill, but judging by the packed tables and shops along Penn Avenue in the Strip District, plenty more sought ways to stay toasty.
Among them was Mark Bankey of Frederick, Md., who, along with sons Christian, 9, Connor, 8, and Kyle, 10, endured frigid temperatures in Cleveland early this month to witness a 41-3 rout of the Browns.
Mr. Bankey's wife, Mindy, said she made seat warmers and blankets for the family to use during the Cleveland game, but they were little match for Lake Erie winds. She said they would use whatever means were available to keep warm in Heinz Field.
While tailgaters are known for withstanding the elements for the sake of the pre-game ritual, most of them had their ways of making the cold bearable. Jets fans Brian Cluzette and Nick Spzur of Westchester, N.Y., said they would hop in their car to warm up, but would jump right back out to tend to the grill or talk football with nearby parties. Tom Dugas of Plum broke out a fire pit, firewood and heaters to keep his crew warm until game time. Lifting a can of beer, Tom Maiden of Bloomfield said would rely upon "liquid heat" to get through the day.
Dave Milcheck of Aspinwall brought the heavy artillery: a Thermoheat Dual Heat Technology Heater that his crew fondly dubbed "the coat melter." Mr. Dugas said he started bringing the heater to tailgate after an incident with melted asphalt occurred a few years ago and wood fires were banned in their parking lot.
No matter what was used to keep warm before the game, fans agreed weather wasn't going to disrupt the pregame ritual, especially not for a game this big.
"Tailgating's a little bit more on the traditional side. ... It's something I really can't miss out on," said Mr. Cluzette.
"I embraced [the cold] -- it's football weather!" said Larry Sroka of Brighton Heights.
First Published January 24, 2011 12:00 am