Durham’s Main Street was once more aglow with celebration and relief as Wildcats and community members alike rushed downtown to commemorate the New England Patriots’ record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory on Sunday, Feb. 3, complete with chants, music and plenty of red and blue to go around.
The victory came after a suspenseful defense-laden Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams in what served as a symbolic rematch of 2002’s Super Bowl XXXVI, where the Patriots defeated the then-St. Louis Rams 20-17. Super Bowl LIII saw the Foxborough-based team, again led by quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, winning 13-3, the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history.
Throughout the three-hour long contest, students huddled at Libby’s Bar and Grill and various viewing parties across Durham and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus cheered on their team and fumed when their opponents gained any resemblance of progress. As the Patriots ran down the fourth-quarter clock in its dying minutes, students quickly spilled onto Main Street from both Libby’s and student housing up and down the road and formed a massive mosh pit founded on Patriots beanie hats, body surfing and boomboxes blasting “Sweet Caroline.”
Throughout the proceedings, students frantically pulled out their smartphones to film the excitement and send the action off to their social media followings, no matter where they were in the crowd. Those who managed to escape the tightly-packed throng of revelers contributed to the madness by climbing the closest pole, tree or even building, while those observing from apartments above added their own two cents through chants of “Go Pats” and “F*** the Rams!”
Minutes before the crowds congested Main Street, the UNH Police Department, Durham Fire Department and law enforcement from nearby towns gathered by the entrance of Libby’s to carefully watch the hundreds of students that would inevitably rush out of both there and the rest of town to revel their hard-fought win. One of the first officers to arrive on the scene, New Hampshire State Police Officer Chris Vetter, made it his job to peer through the glass and watch as the crowd became more and more restless with each passing play. He told The New Hampshire that preparations this time around would differ little from precautions taken during November’s World Series mob, which included a line of officers blocking off the street after Scorpion’s Sports Bar and Grill to the right and the Juicery to the left.
“We prepare the same way all the time,” Vetter said prior to game’s end. “We’ve got people in place to make sure that the kids are able to come out, celebrate, enjoy themselves, hopefully behave; then we’ll go about our business.”
Sure enough, when the crowd reached critical mass, the officers moved in and secured a tight border all while observing flying cans, makeshift flags and numerous flashing cameras with watchful eyes. In the meantime, students and community members, regardless of their level of love for the sport or the team itself, shared a powerful and positive vibe that lasted before, throughout and after the hour-long festivity, especially given the significance of the game for the Patriots.
“Honestly, it’s [quarterback] Tom Brady,” psychology and justice studies dual major Conor Phelps said prior to the Main Street gathering, “what [else] can you feel…he’s the greatest quarterback of all time, he’s the greatest captain of any team that’s ever played; and when it comes down to the wire, you can never not count on Tom Brady…when the Patriots are at the Super Bowl or the playoffs, it’s game over; Patriots are winning.”
Phelps added that he also admires Brady for the way he “coaches” and “guides” his teammates “no matter if you’ve been in the NFL for one year or if you’ve been in the NFL for 20 years.”
Another student, sophomore civil engineering major Dylan Lauer, told TNH at the height of the partying he felt “awesome” before proclaiming “it’s a great day to be a Wildcat, yeah!” Lauer, who had also joined in during November’s World Series celebration, said that that celebration was “not as good as now” due to Brady and a larger crowd.
“We are very happy right now; we just won the Super Bowl, I mean, this is something we have been looking forward to for so long,” first-year nutrition major Nicole Parrish exclaimed; “we are true, true, true fans out here.”
Like its baseball-based predecessor just months prior, police ultimately goaded the mob away from its origin by Libby’s before it gradually dispersed, with most students walking down Main Street in the direction of their respective residence halls or apartments, joined by some runners still filled with excitement over New England’s sixth ring.
While another trail of students did make their way down Quad Way toward McConnell Hall and nearby housing, unlike last time, no major crowds formed after the initial mob, with much of the energy dying down over the span of minutes. Despite the lesser festivities, however, the community judged the occasion as a success overall.
“It’s a joyous celebration of UNH students for their hometown team,” Dean of Students John Kirkpatrick said. “…as long as students stay safe, you know, this is their town, too; take care of it. What I’ve seen so far has been really good, a lot of good energy out here.” Kirkpatrick also praised how UNH police and other members of local law enforcement handled the situation, calling their efforts “very well coordinated.”
As of this writing, per arrest logs, UNH Police arrested a total of nine people on Sunday, with four of those arrests occurring during the post-game celebration.
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