From Chilmark to Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven to Edgartown, small family groups and boisterous bar parties celebrated Super Bowl Sunday as an annual break from quiet, brittle February.
Last Sunday, photographer Peter Simon, wheelman John Pinchon and this reporter crisscrossed the Island to note Super Bowl customs, traditions and reactions to the game.
Customary family gatherings range from Phil Hale and his sons taking the same seats every year to watch the game at home in Vineyard Haven to the Arnie Fischer family custom that features a made-from-scratch, football-shaped cake in their West Tisbury living room.
The flavor of public and family events range from a quiet focus on the game to raucous social scenes.
Pregame, 6 p.m.: Four Islanders phone in with the pregame situation in Fort Myers, Fla. Vineyard Haven residents Ron and Darlene Kasmouski and Dick and Carol Jennings, mainstays of The Trustees of Reservations Chappaquiddick property, are sweltering in 72-degree heat with about 100 other transplanted New Englanders at a local eatery.
“No, it’s not like being on the Vineyard but the weather, our friends and a bunch of Pats fans make this just fine,” Mr. Kasmouski says.
Asked if he is decked out in Pats gear, Mr. Kasmouski intones: “No, a man should not wear a shirt with another man’s name on the back.”
Mr. Jennings, who is looking forward to the game, seems just as excited about returning to the Vineyard next month to his avocation of tracking osprey migration patterns through a global positioning system tag and release program.
Mike Cassidy of Edgartown checks in by phone from Children’s Hospital, where daughter Samantha is set to leave after two days of lymphoma treatment. Dad and daughter are excited.
“Samantha will finish treatment by kickoff, we’ll be discharged by the second quarter and drive to her aunt’s house in Boston so she can see the halftime show and the second half,” Mr. Cassidy says of their game plan.
First quarter (5:13 left): “I didn’t get the sports gene,” muses Gary Stuber, watching his 13-year-old twin sons, Noah and Jules, settle in for the game at the family farmhouse in Chilmark. On the screen, the Pats are losing 3-0. “But I enjoy making dinner for them and hanging out,” he says.
The boys enjoy the experience as well. They like watching the game with Dad every year. They are fans but not fanatics.
For this family, it’s quality time and a break from winter. “In winter on the Vineyard, we need all the special events we can get,” Mr. Stuber says with a smile, a comment repeated across the Island on Sunday night.
Second quarter (4:10 left): The classic intense Super Bowl party is under way at Ryan Kurth’s home in West Tisbury. A table groaning with chips, dips, chicken parts and sundry other goodies and beverages is shared by about 15 twentysomethings. The room is rocking. The Pats have the lead 7-3, they have the ball and are rolling.
Most of these young people grew up together, bonded on the Island, and are absolutely howling with delight and pain as the Pats complete some passes and drop others.
Taylor Ives, a true son of Gay Head, now called Aquinnah, goes vertical from his chair as Randy Moss drops a toss from quarterback Tom Brady.
“Aaaaah, he should’ve caught that,” Mr. Ives agonized.
Mike James feels his pain. “Definitely should have caught it,” Mr. James says.
Behind him, Andrew Nelson, lately of Washington, Conn., smiles. “This is the first Super Bowl I’ve seen in five years,” Mr. Nelson says. “I can’t imagine watching it with better people or better food.”
Halftime: Mr. Kasmouski checks in from Fort Myers again. He’s won $200 in one of those undecipherable Super Bowl pools. Mr. Kasmouski, who has played semi-pro football and actually understands the game, is concerned.
Not Scott Blaylock, standing outside The Wharf in Edgartown for a halftime cigarette.
“I’m not worried a bit,” he says serenely. “This is what the Patriots do. [Coach Bill] Belichick will make halftime adjustments. We’ll be fine.”
The Wharf ambience is more of a middle-aged-guy thing. The scene feels like Cheers, fun but comfortable.
Third quarter (12:27 left): We find party central at Lattanzi’s restaurant in Edgartown. People swirl around tables of food and beverage, watch and scream at two big screen televisions and attempt to hear each other. A joyous mood prevails despite the Pats’ inability to expand their 7-3 lead.
Owner Albert Lattanzi is radiant, presiding over the biggest house party on the Island. In classic Island style, the Lattanzi Super Bowl party is an event that created itself.
“We’ve been doing it for 15 or 16 years here at the restaurant. I used to have a party at the house but we outgrew it so we moved it here,” he says.
Now 100 of Mr. Lattanzi’s friends gather for fellowship in winter. There is no charge for anything. People bring food and an appetite for fun. About half are socializing, the rest watching the game.
Mr. Lattanzi has begun a tradition of buying two big screen televisions each year for the party, then raffling them off, the proceeds used to buy sets for the following year.
The closest thing to business at the party is a question posed by Islander Drew deGeofroy: “Do you do catering?” he asks Mr. Lattanzi. Mr. deGeofroy is planning a wedding this year and is scouting options.
Fourth quarter (6:25 left): Crunch time. The crowd at Sharky’s Cantina in Oak Bluffs is tense, loud and filled with Pats and Giants fans. Amy Levine of Vineyard Haven is praying with three minutes left and the Pats losing. Her prayers are answered with a Patriot touchdown.
Giant fans Jeremy Kroup and Ryan Murcha are crushed — then delirious two minutes later when the Giants score the winning touchdown.
Sharky’s is a tomb. It is over.
Postgame perspective: At Monte Bizzarro’s somewhat somber Edgartown home, 13-year-old Michael Bizzarro offers a grownup perspective.
Asked how, on a scale of one to 10, the outcome of the game affects his life, he answers promptly, “It’s a one . . . and they’re going to win next year.”