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Setting the scene for the Super Bowl TEMPE, Ariz., Jan. 28 -- You had to get up pretty early to beat the "Boys in the Alley." Duke, Gus and Stan secured their parking spot only yards from Sun Devil Stadium early Saturday morning. So what, if it was in a restricted area on the grounds of the local National Guard armory. No one seemed to mind. "Not bad, huh?" said Duke Ward, who drove a recreational vehicle down from Alamogordo, N.M., to bask in the sun and soak up some Super Bowl color. "We're closer than (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones?" Well, not really, but that didn't see to make much of a difference for this trio who planned to watch the game on the television that made the 500-mile trip along with them. "Who needs tickets?" said Gus Payan, as he watched the passersby. And for people-watchers this was a Super Bowl filled with the color and characters that make this day an event. There was the guy with the multi-colored clown wig, the fan with the cowboy silver and blue painted on his bare torso, and the guy with the wedge of cheese on his head, who apparently did not know or care, that the Green Bay Packers were not in this game. Amid temperatures nearing 70 degrees, they turned this college campus into a Super Bowl compound, with corporate tents, lines of limos and catered affairs that rivaled formal, sit-down dinner parties. They all feasted on the scene and food that ranged from a simple burger and beer to some lobster and cognac. More than anything else, it was the chance to be here and be seen and maybe pick up a ticket if you were lucky. Take Steeler fan John Rosier, who claims to have hitch-hiked from his Pennsylvania home to follow his team to the big game. "I need a miracle ticket," said Rosier, who stood outside the stadium clad in a black-and-gold Neil O'Donnell uniform complete with a regulation helmet. "I need a miracle." He may need more than that. It seems that Rosier, who had been in at this spot for two days, had a whopping 50 cents left for a ticket. "Someone's got to give me a break." Tickets seemed plentiful two hours before game time, with scapers asking a surprisingly low figure of about $400 per ducat. The price had hit $4,000 earlier in the week. "Everyone's looking for a bargain," said John, a scalper looking to unload two prime seats. "They're trying to wait us out. It's not going to happen" Vying for the attention were the protesters who spread out along the south entrance to the stadium hawking their own brand of free enterprise. There was the person who lashed out at a local bank for various scandals, those making sure that God -- and not just football -- was on everyone's mind, and some pickets protesting the way African American's are treated. That message struck a chord for some in this state that had an earlier Super Bowl yanked because it did not yet have a Martin Luther King holiday. But for most, the tone was much less serious. Those like John Schaal and Julie Gismondi of Green Tree, Penn., were just content to sit on a grassy knoll and catch a few rays before game time. "I'm just watching the people and enjoying this weather," said Schaal, who has season tickets to the Steelers. "This is just a great place to be." Ditto for the "Lobster Triplets," who arrived in a limousine and plenty of food. "It doesn't get any better than this," said Steve Ulatowski, who is a gem dealer from northern California. Ulatowski, and buddies Randy Spade and John Garsow, were living the good life. They had just put away lobsters named Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. They were ready for some Switzer, next. Yes, they were Steeler fans. "This is our first Super Bowl and the way we're going it could be our last," said Garsow, as he gulped some cognac. "God, I love Super Bowls."
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