SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — If any bruised feelings remain in New Jersey over perceived Super Bowl slights from the other side of the Hudson River, they weren't evident Saturday — mainly because people were too busy partying, or getting ready to.
In Secaucus, which lies a couple of long punts to the east of MetLife Stadium, thousands flocked to a downtown festival to eat, drink, play games, listen to live music and, probably, congratulate themselves that they didn't shell out thousands of dollars to watch the Super Bowl in person Sunday night.
"My cousin paid $2,800 for two tickets — that's insane, isn't it?" said Richard Bello, of Rochelle Park, as he munched on fried cheese curds, one delicacy among many offered by a staggering array of food trucks. Where else could you get Belgian waffles then walk five paces to your right and savor a yak burger? And that's not even taking into account the 344-pound football made of mozzarella cheese, billed as the world's largest.
"This is a really nice thing for the town to do," Bello said. "My wife took the kids into New York and the line for the toboggan ride was three hours. You're better off staying over here and going to the Liberty Science Center — they've got the Vince Lombardi trophy and a lot of other great Super Bowl stuff."
In Hoboken, hundreds of people strolled along a riverfront park where they snapped pictures in front of a giant Roman numeral "XVIII" and tried their hand at the sport of curling.
On Sunday, the town of East Rutherford, where MetLife Stadium is located, is set for a giant downtown tailgate party complete with live music, food and drink.
The Super Bowl will be the first played outdoors at a cold-weather location, and tens of thousands of people were expected to travel to the region. Most of the big-ticket events outside of the game are being held in New York, including Super Bowl Boulevard, the 13-block stretch of Broadway that features the 60-foot-high toboggan slide.
The rivalry between the two states intensified with the release of the Super Bowl program, which some in New Jersey felt slighted the Garden State by using the Manhattan skyline on its cover with a sliver of New Jersey in the background. A predictable war of words between newspaper columnists on both sides of the river ensued.
If food and people were in abundance in Secaucus and Hoboken on Saturday, far more scarce were fans of the two teams playing Sunday night. Denver Broncos jerseys were nearly nonexistent, far outnumbered by locals wearing the blue and white of the hometown New York Giants. Seattle Seahawks fans made a slightly better showing.
Todd and Michele Roan, of Puyallup, Wash., were staying in a hotel near Secaucus and had already made the trip into Manhattan when they heard about the local festivities.
"It really wore us out," Michele Roan said. "It wasn't like we got up today and said, 'Let's go back.' Some people at the hotel told us they had come here and had had a good time."
In Hoboken, David Nghiem of Seattle met up with his brother Will, who lives in Washington, D.C. Tickets in hand, they were suitably stoked for the big game.
"This is the biggest moment of my life," David Nghiem said.
"I told my co-workers come Sunday night, I'll be crying one way or another," his brother added.