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As Super Bowl fans arrive to rain in Tampa, reactions range from "yuck'' to "awesome.''

Cardinals fans Danny Rentera, 52, and son Brandon, 25, are outnumbered by Steelers fans who are glad to leave the cold.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Cardinals fans Danny Rentera, 52, and son Brandon, 25, are outnumbered by Steelers fans who are glad to leave the cold.

TAMPA — They arrived without coats on, flip-flops and shorts stowed in their bags.

But did they bring umbrellas?

As soon as Super Bowl fans landed in Tampa on Thursday, so did the rain.

"Yuck," said Kathy Saliba of Pittsburgh after arriving at Tampa International Airport. "We left snow for the rain."

Despite dipping temperatures and overcast skies, fans seemed mostly grateful for the change of scenery, however damp.

"It's like 10 degrees where we came from," said Steelers fan Jim DiPasquale, 25, who drove 13 hours with a buddy from Paducah, Ky., fleeing snow, ice storms and power outages.

"The Steelers are in the Super Bowl," he said, as he sipped a beer outside Stump's Supper Club at Channelside, wearing cargo shorts and sandals. "Who can complain?"

When Jason and Jenny Pryor left Pittsburgh on Southwest Flight 639 on Thursday morning, schools were opening late because of snow.

They bundled their 3-month-old son, Jared, in a Roethlisberger onesie, a black Steelers jacket, a gold Steelers fleece blanket, and an embroidered Terrible Towel — which looks like it could double as a burping pad.

"It's really not nice in Pittsburgh right now," said Jenny Pryor, 30.

"It's good to get away."

Temperatures in Tampa are expected to drop to 38 degrees Saturday, with morning showers expected today.

But by Super Bowl Sunday — the day everyone really cares about — rain chances are low, and a high of 69 is predicted.

Glen Hessinger stated the obvious Thursday as he checked in at the Tampa Marriott Waterside toting more alcohol than luggage.

"This weather (stinks)," he said.

Hessinger, 43, an anesthesiologist from Baltimore, arrived in town with five friends from hometown Philadelphia. They had planned the trip awhile back, hoping the Eagles would make the big game, and ended up with the hated Steelers.

The 18-pack of Coors Light, a 12-pack of Beck's, two-fifths of vodka and three bottles of vino resting at their feet suggested they would be just fine.

Pittsburgh native Betty Maguire braved a 12-hour ordeal to get here when her transfer flight out of Cincinnati got delayed by 3 to 5 inches of snow.

Hanging out at the Marriott Waterside with friends Thursday, the 45-year-old postal worker registered her relief.

"This is awesome," Maguire said, her shorts, Troy Polamalu jersey and Pittsburgh accent leaving no doubt about why she was here.

As they have been all week, Steelers jerseys were prevalent.

Used to warmer weather, the few Cardinals fans who made it into town by Thursday said they were just happy to be here for their team's first Super Bowl appearance.

Allan Somers, 49, a Cardinals season ticket-holder, scored seats in Section 305 to watch the game with his son.

"This is the first Super Bowl I've ever been to," Somers said. "I'm just so happy my team is in it. I don't care about the rain."

In Ybor City, people darted from awning to awning as club owners prepared for parties. A man erected a sign designating the location for the Maxim Super Bowl party. Nearby, men puffed cigars and watched the wet scene from a dry porch.

Even the Naked Cowboy didn't seem to mind the drizzle as he strummed his guitar outside Gaspar's Grotto on Seventh Avenue, wearing nothing but his trademark tighty whities.

Times photographer Chris Zuppa contributed to this story. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

As Super Bowl fans arrive to rain in Tampa, reactions range from "yuck'' to "awesome.'' 01/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:53pm]
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