Looking back at parties past
How will next year's Super Bowl party scene be different from that of the first three games held in Tampa? Let's look back, shall we?
Frank Sinatra! Bob Hope! John Denver! Barry Mannilow! Mel Torme! Okay, so no one ever accused Tampa's first Super Bowl of being the hippest convocation of celebrities in NFL history. But they did get Dallas star Patrick Duffy to appear at the Clearwater Mall, which was something. The L.A. Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII win over the Redskins was a huge draw — so much so that even House Speaker Tip O'Neill couldn't get a table at Bern's. The biggest bash was a $500,000 "Night at the Circus," featuring leopards, dancing bears and trampolinists at the Florida State Fairgrounds. There was no Maxim Party, no Playboy Party ... but Sports Illustrated did hold a "dinner dance" at the Don CeSar.
Whitney Houston. Scott Norwood. New Kids on the Block (they performed at halftime). Super Bowl XXV, between the Giants and the Bills, was memorable for a number of reasons, but none more so than Operation Desert Storm. A handful of parties were canceled, like the NFL's ritzy bash at the Tampa Convention Center. (Gasparilla was canceled, too. Organizers with Ye Mystic Krewe opted to cancel the festival rather than admit black members, so the city threw a one-time flop called Bamboleo.) Sinatra was back, performing at the USF Sun Dome. Jimmy Buffett played the Florida Suncoast Dome (now the Trop). And Saturday Night Live stars performed at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Organizers had the bright idea of hosting the Super Bowl and Gasparilla on the same weekend — great for partiers, but horrible for city congestion. Still, Jay Leno, Ricky Martin, David Copperfield, Magic Johnson and Denzel Washington all came to see the Ravens beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Maxim's first-ever Super Bowl party took place at the A La Carte Pavilion, and Rain Lounge, a bar in the Channel District, hosted parties by Playboy, Smirnoff and ESPN. (Rain closed a year later). Ybor was popping, with the hottest parties (Sports Illustrated, Anheuser-Busch) taking place at FUN, which is now the Honey Pot. Among partiers there were the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Carson Daly, which would be like getting Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers and Ryan Seacrest in the same room.
— Compiled by Jay Cridlin and Mary Melstrom from tbt* files.