Steelers head to Super Bowl, students head to streets

By Olivia Garber

Fans brought their towels. Police brought their shields.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers… Fans brought their towels. Police brought their shields.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New York Jets 24-19 last night, Pitt students did what has become almost tradition — they went out into the streets to celebrate.

Sounds of twirling Terrible Towels, shrill cheers and a vuvuzela flooded the streets of Oakland last night around 10 p.m.

Although the crowd began small, police officers in the area were prepared. About a dozen officers gathered on Forbes and Bouquet, while about four officers decked in riot gear patrolled the Cathedral Lawn.

But most of the action happened outside Essie’s Original Hot Dog Shop, where TV crews and their cameras attracted the rowdy jeers of students.

“We’re on TV!” one guy screamed while crossing to Forbes and Bouquet avenues.

Police officers stood in the street, mostly for crowd control. Other than an occasional “Stay on the sidewalk,” officers remained unobtrusive.

Memories of a previous Steelers game were fresh in the minds of upperclassmen, who’d seen Oakland erupt into pandemonium after the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 Super Bowl. After raucous rioting created more than $150,000 in damage and 60 to 80 students were arrested, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg wrote a letter to the student body chastising them for their behavior.

Last night’s win earned the Steelers a spot in the Super Bowl, causing a furor among Oakland residents — albeit not quite on the scale of the 2009 win.

Senior Alan Harper called the crowd-gathering a “mini-riot,” and said there were similar celebrations the last time the Steelers won the AFC Championship.

Although interviewed early in the night, Harper correctly predicted the night’s events.

“It’s going to be crazy. [Steelers fans] will go crazy for anything,” he said.

At first, fans contented themselves with a few twirls of a towel and the occasional “Green Bay sucks!”

Most groups walked down Forbes Avenue without purpose — a large group headed to the Cathedral around 9:50 p.m. before turning around and marching back to the “O.”

There, camera crews got their shots as students sang the Steelers Fight Song. Police watched, but didn’t sing along.

Later in the night, students still gathered on Forbes Avenue, screaming whenever a car honked its horn. Although vocally rambunctious, the fans were relatively demure compared to yesteryear’s.

They stayed on the streets, and they stayed in control. Now they just have to rally themselves for the Super Bowl in two weeks.

Zach Weber is more than ready.

A freshman when the Steelers beat the Cardinals, the Pitt junior celebrated the win the same way he did the first time — out in the streets.

Was he in the streets when the Steelers won the 2009 Super Bowl?

“Definitely!” he said.

Will he celebrate in the streets if the Steelers win the 2011 Super Bowl?