You don’t need a $1,000 ticket to be part of New Jersey’s first Super Bowl.
Ridgewood’s “Pre-Game Celebration” – the NFL is protective of its Super Bowl brand – will include four “huddle zones” around town in the days leading up to the big game, each offering family-friendly events both for die-hard football fans and residents who don’t know a Giant from a Jet.
A Community Event
The village, 13 miles away and connected by rail to MetLife Stadium, where the game will be played, was named a host town by the committee organizing Super Bowl events in New York and New Jersey. But the majority of the official events are scheduled for New York City, or for ticket-holders at the Meadowlands.
“It was thought when we had that association, we’d get some people from the hotels, people going to the game,” said Tom Hillman, president of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce. “But we realized that just wasn’t us.”
“It’s just a community event,” he said.
And like any other local event, in lieu of NFL cash or corporate sponsorships, hometown sponsors kicked in to kick off the festivities.
“We still want to do something,” said Groome. “We want to be a part of it in out own little way.”
The schedule that’s emerged from the planning remains anything but little, and the chamber is only one of the groups leading “huddles” up to the face-off between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2.
The Friday before, Jan. 31, they’ll be setting up sports arcade games, a raffle and a big screen TV showing gridiron highlights at 54 E. Ridgewood Ave., the old Bank of America building. The events run from 4 to 10 p.m., with live music in the last two hours.
For Saturday, Feb. 1, a local “halftime show” with the Ridgewood High School cheerleaders and marching band runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a planned chili cook-off of local eateries.
The Ridgewood Library and YMCA will also be huddle zones during the week leading up to the game, taking the lead in organizing their own activities, said Groome.
At the library from 4 to 6:30 p.m. the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the game (Jan. 28-30), sports movies and crafts are scheduled. The Y will have an autographed football raffle, music and other family events from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 26, the Sunday before the game.
Fire and Ice Finale
The week of events concludes Saturday, Feb. 1 with a “Fire and Ice” festival around Graydon Pool from 4 to 8 p.m.
Fifteen bonfires will circle the water, each manned by a member of the Ridgewood Fire Department, to resemble the annual Providence, RI, Fire and Water festival.
According to Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck, the council’s parks and recreation liaison, the event was in the works before the Super Bowl itinerary was being put together. Planning began as part of the village’s Come Alive Outside program.
“If it’s a success, we’ll do it every year,” she said.
Provided the temperatures are low, the fire department will pump water into the rink near the Stable for ice skating, and donated snow machines will line part of the pool grounds with the right conditions for some snowshoeing. Vendors with winter wear and food will also be on hand.
Preregistration for $5 is required via Community Pass or by calling the Stable at 201-670-5560.
Once Ridgewood’s Pre-Game Celebration comes to a close, it’s up to you to plan for the Super Bowl itself. Where will you be watching the game? Where are the best local bars to watch football? The best caterers for private Super Bowl parties? Let us know in the comments.