As the hosts of one of the most coveted annual Super Bowl parties in Maryland, Steve and Zivah Ring have obligations to uphold. So what if they had planned on spending much of the winter in sunny Florida?
"We came into town just to throw this party," said Zivah Ring of Stevenson. "And we're leaving again right afterwards."
Over the past 47 years, Super Bowl Sunday has morphed from just another blah winter weekend day into an unofficial national holiday. And with the Ravens playing for the national title for the first time since 2001, Baltimoreans have an extra reason to celebrate. Across the region, Ravens fans — from society doyennes to a club of biking enthusiasts — rose to the occasion.
The Rings own Westminster's Blue Point Crab House, and they've been hosting a Super Bowl party for a dozen years. Zivah Ring estimates she'll spend at least $150 on each of her 40 to 45 guests.
The menu, by Biddle Street Catering, includes a raw bar — with oyster shuckers. There will also be a bruschetta bar, gourmet pizzas and potato skins. And, those are just the appetizers.
"At halftime, we always serve filet," Zivah Ring said. "And for dessert, we have Pimlico cake."
Over the years, the Rings' party has acquired an undeniable cachet, with guests going to great lengths to attend.
"A few years ago, we had a terrible storm," Zivah Ring said. "But we didn't lose a single guest due to the bad weather."
For Jerry Edwards, there's a magic that occurs only in large groups of people. So, once the Ravens were bound for New Orleans, he threw away his budget, rented the back room at Roy's Restaurant in the Inner Harbor, and invited 30 of his friends — and their children — to celebrate with him.
"I was going to have a party at the house," said Edwards, owner and corporate chef of Chef's Expressions catering in Lutherville. "But …for the Super Bowl, I wanted to be where the action is."
Once the game starts, Edwards' guests will watch the play-by-play while nibbling on sushi, tempura and other items from Roy's Hawaiian fusion cuisine.
For the Fat-Boys, a social club that describes itself on its website (fatboysnafb.com) as "a tight-knit alliance of brothers, bikers and non-bikers," the Super Bowl is a chance to cheer, chow down and raise a few bucks for charity.
"We've been having this party for close to 30 years," said Al Panuska, co-chairman of the Fat-Boys. "Usually we have about 350 people. But, with this year, we're expecting close to 500."
The party, which includes a silent auction, is primarily a fundraiser for the club, but some proceeds are set aside to help struggling Harford County families.
The party is held at Martin's East Catering in Middle River. It includes an open bar and a menu featuring pit beef and ham, barbecued chicken and ribs, steamed shrimp, Italian meatballs, a salad bar and assorted desserts.
"It's a lot of fun," said Joe Lanza, the general manager of Martin's East. "We'll have about 25 people working. If we're lucky, our staff might even catch a glimpse of the game."