By Miranda Wilder, Staff Writer
The Patriots won the 2015 Super Bowl and University of New Hampshire fans flocked to downtown Durham in celebration.
With less than 30 seconds left in the game, police from Durham, Lee and Madbury stood along Main Street. Many watched the game through windows, accompanied by some of the underage students and anticipating whatever mass gathering was about to unravel. Moments before the clock expired, a single firework was shot off somewhere over Madbury Road, marking the beginning of the 2015 Super Bowl celebration.
“This is the best ending to my senior year,” said senior Mary Rossi, “and we didn’t even get tear gassed.”
Rossi and her fellow seniors, Courtney Taver and Amanda Noel reminisced about past celebrations, specifically UNH’s last big ordeal when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. They felt that, in comparison, this one was completely peaceful, and it’s almost as if the party was set up for students in a more organized, controlled fashion.
“No one’s crowd surfing yet,” said sophomore Rico Breya, who also witnessed the Red Sox celebration. “They’re handling it a little tougher, tighter. The snowballs are a plus.”
Police waited outside Main Street’s strip of bars as students streamed out, chanting, shouting, swearing, singing and even popping champagne bottles in the street. There was no hostility nor riot gear. They simply told people they could not gather on Main Street.
“I got to respect them,” Michael ‘Jimmy’ Landing said. “They got to do their job to protect us . . . Our job is to party, and their job is to make sure nobody gets hurt. We need to cooperate to make sure everybody has a good time.”
Several students climbed surrounding trees and street signs, standing high above the crowd under the American flag waving on the island, a sort of symbolic moment of unified excitement in what turned out to be quite the patriotic event, in more ways than one. Ultimately, students were given a small area between the plaza and Main Street to celebrate, with as little police intervention as possible.
More fireworks were shot into the sky, gaining riotous attention and screaming from the crowd, and a giant snowball fight began, lasting until the end when police decided it was time for students to disperse.
Mostly, students were just happy their team had won.
“We’ve been New England fans our whole lives,” Robert Jordan said. “Do you know what this means to us?”
Noel, a political science major, has been waiting nearly 10 years for this win. She’s been to two Super Bowls, remains an avid Tom Brady fan and could hardly express her elation of the win.
“The NFL hates us and that’s the way we like it,” she said with enthusiasm.
There were few ugly moments, but cops merely kept students out of the streets. By 10:45 p.m., much of the crowd had dispersed and most students were just lining the road and standing on snow banks.
Allegedly, there was at least one arrest and at one point, someone smashed a bottle, creating a small disturbance.
Nolan Flagg reflected on his Super Bowl night, starting out with wings at TGI Friday’s, loads of dip and guacamole back at home, and ending on Mill Road in the gathering. He along with many others claimed this celebration to be much better than the last in 2013.
“The [police] are happy to be here too,” he said. “They’re just on the job.”
Many students were equally surprised and happy that the cops were being friendly. Many students could be seen taking selfies with police officers while others were conversing in light chatter.
When the police did decide to end the party, students shared a mixed reaction, but dispersed all the same.
In their most aggressive stance of the night, the police stormed the street in a straight line to make clear it was time to go home at around 11 p.m.
One of the more astonishing moments came when a group of students began to pick up trash, mainly beer cans, bottles and empty 24-packs off the street.
“This is a real spur-of-the-moment decision,” junior Brian Waterhose said.
As people noticed what was going on, more and more students joined, braving the cold for a few minutes longer to clean up the mess in an act of pure gratitude and selflessness. Police left students to their good deed.
“Gloves would have been nice,” Eric Bower said cheerfully as he sifted through the snow to dig out a beer can.
Throughout the night, police remained cheery and professional, and everyone dispersed up Main Street in a long line of happy, satisfied fans when it was time to call it a night.
“We’re exercising our right for peaceful assembly – like Patriots!” Noel said.