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How to have a safe Super Bowl party in Tampa Bay

There are sensible ways to cheer on your team and devour chicken wings.
Dips and pizzas and foods that don't require shared serving spoons are good options for a Super Bowl watch party in the coronavirus era.
Dips and pizzas and foods that don't require shared serving spoons are good options for a Super Bowl watch party in the coronavirus era. [ Tampa Tribune ]
Published Feb. 1

The Super Bowl is the No. 1 at-home party event of the year. It’s even bigger than New Year’s Eve, according to research by Hallmark Cards and Evite. With the Bucs in the Super Bowl and nearly 11 months of quarantine under our belts, it’s going to be tough to resist the urge to have a big throwdown.

But resist you must, public health officials say.

And maybe you’re among those who were already resisting temptation: According to a poll conducted by Frito-Lay for its “snack index,” 56 percent of those surveyed plan to stay home and watch the game alone or with people who live in their house.

But there are sensible ways to cheer on your team with a friend or two while you devour chicken wings and stuff your face with pounds of cheese.

“For those watching in the Tampa area, it’d be a great use of your outdoor space, as the CDC suggests you’re less likely to get or spread the virus in that setting,” said Casey Martinez of Evite, whose official job title is “Party Specialist.”

Regardless of where you plan the gathering, be sure to provide hand sanitizer, encourage guests to wear masks, set up air filters (if indoors) and use disposable utensils and dinnerware, Martinez said.

Since food is a big part of a Super Bowl party, “it is important to remember that potlucks have been put on pause during the pandemic,” Martinez said.

She suggested treats that come in snack-size packages, or go with dips like hummus or guacamole, pizzas or your favorite pairings like cheese and nuts. Basically, anything that doesn’t involve a shared serving spoon.

“If you’re making a bigger meal at home, allocate some time before your event to portion out dishes for each guest,” Martinez said. “Takeout is also a great option to consider to continue supporting restaurants in your area.”

You can turn your watch party into a virtual one this year using Zoom, FaceTime or the new virtual watch party function on Evite.

Public health professor Jay Wolfson of the University of South Florida said he hopes people look for common ground and exercise common sense.

“The Super Bowl venue itself will be well managed by the NFL and Raymond James coordinated forces,” Wolfson said. “But everything outside of the arena will be fair game for the now mutating COVID monster.”

Wolfson worries that chastising comments and negativity will not work on Super Bowl weekend, so he encouraged elected leaders to educate and lay down the rules to protect the future of businesses and the health of citizens. (Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday issued an executive order that will require masks be worn in most of the city’s popular destinations, including Riverwalk and Ybor City, until Feb. 13.)

“For fans and residents, you know what to do,” Wolfson said. “Wear the darn mask, especially when around folks you don’t live with, socially distance, wash your hands, carry sanitizer and use common sense. To have a ‘responsible’ Super Bowl get-together — keep the numbers low, the venue out of doors as much as possible, avoid having people serve themselves, make sure there is plenty of ventilation, keep your restrooms clean and stocked with paper towels and sanitizers, and put in the discipline this year so that your family and friends can better enjoy next year and beyond without the residue of COVID.”

But do celebrate, he said.

“We need it. We deserve it,” Wolfson said of the Super Bowl. “Let’s not make it the last thing we ever do.”

CDC guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consistently warned against hosting large, indoor gatherings with people you don’t live with. If you do host others, keep the gathering outside. Also:

• Wear masks.

• Stay 6 feet apart.

• Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated places.

• Wash your hands.

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Tampa Bay Times Super Bowl coverage

HOME SWEET HOME: After all these years, Bucs finally feel at home in the Super Bowl.

A WARM WELCOME: See Super Bowl-bound Bucs return home to adoring fans.

HOW THEY STACK UP: Ranking the first four Super Bowls staged in Tampa

LOOKING BACK: A look at the world the last time the Bucs clinched a playoff berth

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