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Seahawk fever: Redmond residents, businesses get into the Super Bowl spirit
You can't avoid the Seattle Seahawks these days.
Wherever you go, there's 12th Man flags flying, people wearing jerseys and talking Hawks.
With a huge 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 19, the Hawks punched their ticket to Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII versus the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Both teams are 15-3, so it's a true best-against-best matchup, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m.
The Redmond Reporter roamed around town to find out how locals are soaking up the epic Hawk season.
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Larry Staley hangs his 12th Man flag proudly on the porch of his home on 113th Court Northeast.
The 30-year Redmond resident isn't all about football, though. He's an ardent Jimmy Buffett fan — a "Parrothead" sticker is slapped on the back window of his truck — and he's also a motorcycle guy, pointing to a few two-wheeled machines that sit in his garage.
Staley said the Seahawks are driven by their coach, Pete Carroll:
"People were critical of the coach because he was a college coach. He was a pro coach at one time and he wasn't terribly successful. But I like the way he does it. He does it like college football: It's a team. Nobody's a hero or the special guy — they're all special. That's why I enjoy it so much, that's what makes it even better."
About 15 of his singles-club buddies showed up at his house for the victory over the 49ers. He expects a big crowd on Sunday, as well.
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Erin Rockwood looks down at her fingernails.
Eight of them are painted blue and green in honor of her beloved Seahawks. Two of them — the middle ones — are blue with a white 12 meticulously applied to them.
"Those are for the Niners fans," she laughs as she gestures toward one of the 22 television sets that line the walls of her J. Michaels Pub & Eatery in Redmond.
On Jan. 19, Rockwood — who has owned the establishment on Redmond Way for almost six years — said she and nearly everyone else in the Hawks' hotspot became emotional during the team's victory over the Niners.
"It was very loud, very fun, energetic," Rockwood said. "And then for the last two minutes of the game, especially when it was really on edge, there was nobody coming up and getting drinks. Everybody was just glued on the TVs."
And after the Hawks secured the victory and NFC championship?
"Oh, it was crazy. Jumping, high fives, hugs all around," said Rockwood, who added that there were approximately 134 people in the bar — which bulged at its capacity — when the Hawks brought the hammer down.
There was one Niners fan in attendance and Rockwood said he was a good sport who had to settle a few bets with his Seahawks pals after the game.
When the hitting on the field subsided, the Niners fan received a playful slap on the face from a Seahawks supporter outside the bar. It's a tradition, Rockwood said, which meant that the roles were reversed following the Niners' victory over the Hawks last month.
"I didn't see it — I saw the aftermath on Facebook. Oh, man," she said with a smile.
Rockwood said Skittles-colored martinis were flying off the shelves last week and she expects another big crowd on hand on Sunday to get into Beast Mode spirit.
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Across the street from J. Michaels sits Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames, which sports 12th Man art on its storefront and Seahawks slogans painted on the windows.
Manager Ria Emsley said employees crafted the 12th Man sign and one worker designed a Seahawks peyote bracelet for sale to go along with a host of pendants, beads and more.
On Monday, many customers in the store were spotted wearing Seahawks jerseys and sweatshirts — it pleases Emsley to no end. She's a Seattle native and a lifelong Seahawks fans dating back to the Jim Zorn and Steve Largent days.
"I think it just shows what the whole community's doing because you see all of our customers, even not on a Sunday, not on a Seahawk Blue Friday, everybody's just wearing Seahawks colors," she said. "They even have their babies dressed up, their have dogs dressed up and that can be on a Tuesday or whichever (day). I think the whole Puget Sound area is just really standing behind the Seahawks."
What sets this team apart from the 2005-06 Hawks that lost in the Super Bowl?
"It's very different since the last time when we were with the Steelers," Emsley said. "There's just a different buzz about it. I just think that the team has so much chemistry."
Emsley said that while Seahawks fans rule the roost on the Ben Franklin store's employee roster, there is one Denver Broncos fan who works there.
"We keep him in the back," she said with a laugh.
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Speaking of Bronco fans, Redmond Police Department Chief Ron Gibson will be rooting for the Denver squad on Sunday.
Before taking over his Redmond post in June 2010, he worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department for 31 years and lived in that state for 33 years.
"No matter which team wins, I think I win," said Gibson, who has followed the Seahawks' progress since he's lived in the area, "but I'm having a hard time forgetting 33 years of following the Broncos."
Gibson, who recalls watching the intense Seattle-Denver AFC West rivalry games from 1977-2011, said with a laugh that Redmond Mayor John Marchione has been giving him a hard time for leaning toward the Broncos on the victory scale.
On the fire side of things in the City of Redmond, Chief Tommy Smith spent 22 years at the Colorado Springs Fire Department — but won't be in Denver's corner on Sunday.
"Go Hawks, baby!" said Smith, who took over his local job five months ago. "I'm here now. It's my home."
Smith grew up in South Carolina and gravitated toward the Dallas Cowboys because he liked watching Tony Dorsett run the ball. When he moved to Colorado, he remained a Cowboy fan and "kind of supported the Broncos from a distance."
Now, he's all about Seattle. He likes quarterback Russell Wilson and the entire Hawk organization because they display class on and off the field, he said.
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At Everything Party on Redmond Way, it's nearly everything Seahawks, as well.
For starters, they've got a massive 12, Go Hawks! and team logo running the length of the front windows. Assistant manager Leslie Malcham said co-owner Linda Potter designed the signage by filling in small cup pillows on a checkerboard grid with what resemble blue and green balls.
"We were all decorated for Valentine's Day, and they (Linda and co-owner husband Mark) said, 'Wait a minute, Valentine's Day?' So they pulled the Valentine's Day out and we got the Hawks stuff in," said Malcham, noting that the display has been up for about two weeks.
Inside the store, customers are grabbing blue-and-green beads, streamers and other Seahawks-type items off the shelves. On Monday, people were asking Malcham about Hawks plates and napkins, which she was hoping would arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"I've been telling everybody since the playoffs started, get your balloons now and then you can use them all the way through the Super Bowl. See? Didn't it work? It worked!" Malcham said as she picked up a large inflatable football and placed it near a yellow goal post. On one side of the post sat an inflatable referee punching bag, which may be useful on Sunday.
Among the Seahawks items, floating on a string, was a lonely Broncos helmet.
"We do have some Denver fans in town and we want to be fair to all of our guests. They can't help it if they're from Denver," Malcham said with a laugh.
They're having a good time at Everything Party, Malcham said as she waved good-bye to a customer and yelled, "Go Hawks!"
As she exited the store, Teri Henninger held up her bag of green and blue beads that she just purchased.
Sporting a 12th Man jersey and a lime green undershirt, the lifelong Seattle sports fan has easily made the transition from baseball to football season.
"Mariners suck, so why not go with the Seahawks?" Henninger said.
"It's been a lot of fun and it's united the whole area," she continued. "I volunteer over at Overlake Hospital and so I wore my stuff there today with their permission. (I got) lots of happy comments. People smiling (and saying) 'Go Hawks' and one 'God Bless You.'"
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On the food front, Redmond resident and chef John Howie and former Seahawk Craig Terrill will participate in Taste of the NFL’s 23rd annual “Party with a Purpose,” a strolling wine and food event on Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Top-notch chefs, celebrities and NFL stars will raise money for food banks from each NFL city.
Howie and Terrill are also encouraging football fans in the Seattle area to donate to Food Lifeline through the national Kick Hunger Challenge. This online fundraising campaign pits fans from all 32 NFL teams against each other in a friendly competition to raise money for food banks in NFL communities nationwide. Howie is currently in the lead.