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Harford Co. Ravens Nest prepares for Super Bowl trip

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The members of Ravens Nest No. 1 have been there throughout the Baltimore Ravens' tumultuous 2012 season, cheering their beloved football team on from their section of the Main Street Tower in Bel Air.

Sunday evening, however, they will be cheering the Ravens on from their seats in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, as their team takes on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

"Here's to the Ravens and the Ravens Nest No. 1 travel team," Nest President Milton Skopinski said Friday evening while toasting a group of Nest officers and members who gathered at the Tower to discuss details of the trip.

Most members plan to leave Thursday and drive to New Orleans in a caravan over two days, and then stay in various hotels around The Big Easy. The game will be played Feb. 3.

The Nest is made up of about 150 members, who live in Harford and Baltimore counties. It is one of about 30 Ravens Nests around the state, dedicated to providing fan support to the Ravens and raising funds for organizations in their communities.

Ravens Nest No. 1 has supported multiple organizations in Harford County, including providing scholarships to Harford County Public Schools students.

The group also meets on the second Thursday of each month.

"My Monday mornings rise and fall with how the Ravens do," member Kathi Smero said Friday night.

About 40 members are attending this year's Super Bowl.

Members present Friday included Smero, Sandy Coho, Milton and Kathy Skopinski, Pat Skebeck, Sue Perouty, Kim Cavanaugh and her companion, Mark Hunt III.

Dave and Beth Rooney, members and residents of Havre de Grace, were also scheduled to attend Friday's meeting, but couldn't attend.

Of the group present Friday, only one, Hunt, had the pleasure of attending Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, when the Ravens defeated the New York Giants in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

"It's why I'm going back this year," the Glen Arm resident said. "It's that much fun; it's definitely a bucket list item."

He received his ticket to that first Super Bowl through his employer. Highlights of the game included a rendition of "America the Beautiful" by the late singer Ray Charles, and flyovers by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and a U.S. Air Force Stealth bomber.

Hunt said anyone who has the opportunity to see their home team play in the Super Bowl should take it.

"A lot of teams have never been," he said.

Admittance won't be cheap, though – Nest members are paying about $2,100 dollars per ticket.

"A lot of people in this group have given up a lot of things to go to this game," Milton Skopinski said.

It will, however, be worth it. Nest members can look forward to a number of Super Bowl-related activities this year in New Orleans, including a massive party scheduled to take place in a park near the Superdome before the game.

Ravens fans will be led on a walk to the stadium by a jazz band decked out in purple.

"It's going to be a purple parade walking that last mile to the stadium," Coho said.

One Nest member will only pay face value for her ticket, which is about $800. Skebeck won that opportunity through a Ravens lottery of Personal Seat License holders.

The Fallston resident was also watching the Ravens live at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., as they defeated the New England Patriots last week for the American Football Conference championship.

Skebeck traveled with a friend, Peg Goodson. Their tour bus was parked in row 52 of the stadium lot – the same number of retiring linebacker Ray Lewis, the MVP of the Ravens' last Super Bowl.

"It was awesome," she recalled. "We had a great time."

Her fellow Nest members were back at the Tower, watching the conference championship in their reserved spot.

Skopinski said some members had decided they would go to the Super Bowl, "win or lose."

Once the Ravens obtained a comfortable lead by the second half, the members relaxed.

"We could actually enjoy a victory before the final gun," Skopinski said.

He said the group members were "ecstatic, could not hold ourselves together," after the Ravens achieved victory.

Smero suggested Friday that the Patriots' defeat of the Ravens last year, denying them a shot at the Super Bowl, could have been a form of divine intervention.

"What's the saying, 'God doesn't give you what you want, He gives you what you need?' " she asked. "He gave us New Orleans."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Baltimore RavensFootballSuper BowlMercedes-Benz SuperdomeNew England PatriotsU.S. Navy
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