Steelers mania grips Oakland


It was practically impossible to be in Pittsburgh Sunday night and not be aware of the Steeler… It was practically impossible to be in Pittsburgh Sunday night and not be aware of the Steeler victory.

Once the game ended at around 6 p.m., legions of screaming Steeler fans spilled out into the streets all across Oakland to revel in their team’s triumph.

The excitement was so contagious that it seemed to affect everyone in the streets, even if they weren’t Steeler fans.

“I don’t even like football that much, but I still think this is awesome,” said student Kyle Carson as he left the celebrations in South Oakland. “Everyone’s just so excited and happy.”

Mere seconds after the game ended, the party was already out in the streets. On North Craig Street, a few houses had crowds of celebrants jumping and cheering in front lawns. One man held a Denver Broncos cap aloft and proceeded to soak it in beer before finding a way to light it on fire.

On campus, a full-blown parade was brewing. Droves of students overran parts of Forbes Avenue, eventually forcing police to close the road at the Oakland Avenue intersection. By 7:30 p.m., one could hear the deafening crowds on Forbes from blocks away, as an army of Steeler fans – many of them wearing black and gold and waving their Terrible Towels – marched down the avenue and gathered en masse on the front steps of the Cathedral of Learning facing Bigelow Boulevard.

As the black- and gold-speckled mass stormed the Cathedral, students and spectators bonded into a throbbing body of cheer.

The fans cycled through the usual Pittsburgh chants, featuring such hits as “Here we go Steelers!” “F— the Eagles!” and “Penn State Sucks!” But they also developed several new ditties, which included the repetitive yelling of Detroit – the home of this year’s Super Bowl – and “F— the Seahawks!” the team the Steelers will face in the big game.

The Bigelow Boulevard side of the Cathedral was alive with people shouting and exchanging high fives, as Steeler flags and jerseys were draped along the front stairs.

The excitement even prompted one female fan to lift her shirt, to the audible delight of some members of the crowd.

Freshman Josh Varga, in the middle of the hysteria, looked on at the commotion with a sense of awe.

“I love it,” he said. “This might be the greatest thing of my life.”

Although the scene became fairly intense, with fans standing on the ledge above the Cathedral’s fountain, onlookers, like Varga, thought the mayhem was innocent.

“There’s no harm to it,” said Delores Lal, a Pitt housekeeping employee.

She added that the excitement was worth it.

“It’s wonderful. It’s about time that we get to go to the Super Bowl … for [running back Jerome] Bettis, he deserves the ring,” she said.

Another fan, noting all the enjoyment among the community and the students, said that there was a sense of pride felt by the crowd.

Junior Lauren Silinski, a Pittsburgh native, agreed with her friend.

“[It’s] definitely a bonding experience,” she said.

There were at least 10 police vehicles – including cars, motorcycles and vans – on the area of Bigelow Boulevard in front of the Cathedral.

But the tension level between police and students, at least on campus, seemed anything but high.

“They’re in a neutral area, not blocking traffic. They’re not hurting anyone, and they don’t seem to be in danger of getting hurt,” Sgt. Roger Dixon said. “They’re more sober than you’d think.”

There were no arrests or citations made by the Pitt Police Sunday night following the game, according to the police blotter.

The revelry continued at the Cathedral for about a half hour, finally dwindling by 8 p.m., as students marched back down Forbes Avenue. The parade kept going along Forbes, with students running up and down the sidewalks cheering with each other and jubilantly drumming on store windows.

Elsewhere in Oakland and South Oakland, couches were lit aflame.

It was still a while before the police were able to re-open the block they set up at Oakland and Forbes. Even the people in cars were in on the parade; many of them blared their horns and waved Steeler towels at the marchers.

Some students, however, were not so enthusiastic about the Steelers’ victory.

“I hate the Steelers with every bone in my body,” freshman Brian White said.

When asked why he was there if not to celebrate the win, White said he was trying to get into the Cathedral for a fraternity meeting.

His friend freshman Jared Stabiner felt differently, though.

“I’ll jump on the bandwagon,” Stabiner said. “If the Steelers win, it means more beer on campus.”

The Steelers are next in action Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Super Bowl in Detroit.

Editor in chief Jessica Lear, assistant news editor Bilal Muhammad and staff writer Konrad Klinkner contributed to this report.