Finding Fun on Super Bowl Sunday

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Forget the Super Bowl. If you hate football, there's a long tradition of using Superbowl Sunday to take advantage of alternative opportunities: museums and restaurants are empty, shopping aisles are clear and those ski slopes are devoid of crowds.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott. If you've missed the fact that it's Super Bowl Sunday, well, you must have been away from your radio and TV for a long, long time. But even for people who don't care a fig about football, it turns out there's a long tradition of enjoying Super Bowl Sunday. NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGO ADLER reporting:

Hate football? Museums are empty. Shopping aisles are clear. Traffic's sparse in places normally heavy, and those ski slopes and ski trails pristine and devoid of crowds.

Ms. PAT MULLER(ph) (Retired Court Magistrate, Denver, Colorado): I love the mountains. They are my religion. Next to my husband, I love the mountains.

ADLER: Pat Muller is almost 70 and lives in Denver, Colorado. A retired court magistrate, she goes skiing with a bunch of elderly women every week, and she began to hear stories that football playoff days were good times to hit the mountains.

Ms. MULLER: We decided, by golly, we were gonna check it out. So we tried it, and it just was a revelation. I mean it was lighter than most weekdays. We're hoping the Super Bowl has the same affect.

ADLER: So that's where she is today. But if you're not a skier, you might consider trying to get into a place that takes reservations weeks in advance, like the beautiful Herbfarm Restaurant, 20 miles from Seattle. As soon as word came that the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl, the phone started ringing. Owner Carrie Van Dyck.

Ms. CARRIE VAN DYCK (Owner, Herbfarm Restaurant): I would say about half the room cancelled. We seat about 60 people. Wives calling saying that their husbands would kill them if they actually came to the dinner instead.

ADLER: The restaurant had planned a special red wine event, which they're moving to another date. If you do go tonight, you can still keep up with the score.

Ms. VAN DYCK: We have little printed scorecards. We have them available on little silver platters that we would bring tableside, turned upside-down, so people can sort of just peek under it.

(Soundbite of ticket booth sales)

ADLER: Here in New York City, just think of all the people who won't go to a Broadway play today. At the TKTS booth, where every tourist comes -- they sell about 30,000 half-price tickets every week -- TKTS treasurer Bill Castellano(ph) decided to crunch the numbers for last year, comparing the Sunday before the Super Bowl, Super Bowl Sunday, and the Sunday a week after.

Mr. BILL CASTELLANO (Treasurer, TKTS, New York City): Last year, there was absolutely no change in the amount of tickets that we sold.

ADLER: So you're telling me this is all a myth I had in my head that I could get into almost any Broadway play on that day or get reservations at the best restaurant.

Mr. CASTELLANO: Well, you might be able to do that. We might not have the same customers. Our regular customers might be, in fact, home watching the game. The data shows that there is no significant change in business from one week to the next.

ADLER: Ticket seller Lawrence Payonne(ph) said, You really want to know when to get good seats?

Ms. LAWRENCE PAYONNE (Ticker Seller): Blizzards are a good time to come down here. Come down in the snow.

ADLER: Now, if none of these options, skiing, shopping, gourmet eating, going to museums or plays, tickles your fancy, there's always the anti-Super Bowl party. Here in New York, you can go to Madame X's bar. Here's owner Amy McCloskey.

Ms. AMY McCLOSKEY (Proprietor, Madame X, New York City): Well, I'm not terribly fond of the Super Bowl, for obvious reasons. We have no TV here, and unfortunately when you don't have a TV, your Super Bowl Sunday tends to be comatose. So for the last few years we closed.

ADLER: But last year, they decided to party, selling lingerie, naughty novelties, making the bar a place for women to get their hair and nails done, to buy makeup, get a massage, and even eat spiked chocolates. And it's happening again tonight. McCloskey describes the d├ęcor.

Ms. MCCLOSKEY: A very plush, red, velvety, bordello-style lounge area, with dim red, extremely flattering lighting, and the older I get, the more I appreciate the lighting.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ADLER: You don't seem very old to me.

Ms. MCCLOSKEY: It's the lighting.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ADLER: Lighting more flattering, one presumes, than the glare of a big-screen TV. Margo Adler, NPR News, New York.

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