Oakland mostly quiet after Super Bowl

By Olivia Garber

The tint of the Packers jerseys emanating from the giant television screen on Bigelow Boulevard… The tint of the Packers jerseys emanating from the giant television screen on Bigelow Boulevard cast a greenish hue on the fans dancing below it last night, celebrating a victory for Green Bay.

But four women straddling the shoulders of some able-bodied men kept swinging their Terrible Towels anyway, pumping their arms in unison with the Super Bowl champions on the screen.

The Steelers had lost, 35-21, but that didn’t stop more than 250 students from eventually gathering on Bigelow Boulevard — the University- and city-police-sanctioned area for celebration — for a relatively peaceful post-game gathering.

Pitt had planned for a Steelers victory and a ruckus from fans, sternly cautioning students about how to celebrate in the event of a seventh Super Bowl win for the city. Fliers, advertisements in The Pitt News and even a video service announcement from student leaders were just a few of the preemptive attempts by the University to curb rioting behavior after the Super Bowl.

When the Steelers won the Super Bowl two years ago, rowdy fans caused as estimated $100,000 in damage to several businesses on Forbes and Fifth avenues. Several windows were also broken in the Hillman Library.

But this year’s preparations by both Pitt and the city of Pittsburgh, along with the generally depressed atmosphere stemming from the Steelers’ loss, prevented most rowdy behavior from the fans that gathered on campus. In the hours before the game began, police had already gathered along Forbes and Fifth. An hour before kick-off, a black SWAT vehicle could be seen driving quickly down Forbes, blaring its sirens.

Several cars, including a Zipcar outside the William Pitt Union, were towed after police closed parking spots on Forbes Avenue around 4 p.m. But when the game ended and the Steelers weren’t the champions, Pitt was left with a horde of police officers and a street void of serious celebrations.

Following the defeat, Director of Student Life Kenyon Bonner said Pitt didn’t prepare for the event of a Steeler loss.

“The plan was to prepare for the Steelers to win,” he said, bundled up on a stage erected on Bigelow Boulevard in front of the Cathedral of Learning, where a DJ played music until shortly after 11 p.m.

Some students, despite the defeat, gathered near the stage.

“F*ck Green Bay! F*ck Green Bay!” they chanted.

The catchy, synthesized beats of the Black Eyed Peas and Ke$ha soon drowned out the fan’s disgruntled cries.

This appeared to leave the police on Bigelow with little to do. Around 10:15 p.m., about 10 minutes after the game ended, 60 riot police with shields and long wooden sticks lined the streets between the Cathedral and the William Pitt Union.

Although the strongest police presence could be felt on campus, more police gathered around Forbes and McKee. More than 75 police officers gathered there with 15 horses and a Long Range Acoustic Device. The LRAD, which was used during the G-20 Summit, uses high-decible sound emissions to control crowds.

But a mere half-hour after the Packers were declared the national football champions, police began packing up their gear. The ones gathered on Forbes and McKee piled into a Port Authority bus. The ones who didn’t fit walked to Posvar Hall, which served as a type of base for officers. They began taking off their gear right when dancing started on Bigelow.

Unlike the Super Bowl two years ago, the students were relatively subdued. Most students were huddled in groups, either watching the screen or taking pictures. No one was burning couches near campus.As the police presence dissipated, so too did the sting of the Steelers’ loss for some who gathered.

Freshman Michael Griffin was with a group of friends hanging out by the sidewalk next to the stage. Calling the celebration a “post-game pissed-off party,” Griffin said he’d probably stick around for an hour before heading home.

Marc McGrae was similarly resigned about the game.

“We were still in the Super Bowl. That’s reason enough to celebrate,” the freshman said.

Earlier in the day, Bonner said the celebration was scheduled to last one hour. Police stuck to that schedule. At 11:15 p.m., police began ushering students off of Bigelow Boulevard. In a matter of minutes, the area was cleared and traffic was moving.

“You shoulda’ been here two years ago,” a girl said in passing to her friend.

Staff members Gretchen Andersen, Shae’ Felicien, Amy Friedenberger, Jeff Ihaza and Ian Pisarcik contributed to this report.