Amazing experiences for Harford Ravens fans 'way down yonder'

It was like Baltimore took over New Orleans over the weekend, when thousands of Ravens fans, including many from Harford County, descended on The Big Easy.

Their experiences were amazing, they said, as they struggled to come up with words to fully describe it.

"It was absolutely fantastic," Tom Knight, of Baldwin, said Tuesday. "From start to finish it was a party atmosphere."

"Oh my gosh I can't begin to describe it," said Cheryl Adams, of Forest Hill, who stayed with family on her trip with her husband, Keith.

Josh Nelson, of Forest Hill, got to go on a father-son trip he'll never forget.

"Being able to share that with Dad, it was a great opportunity as a father-son type event, one we'll never forget. That makes it very special," Nelson said.

And Jaime Hoback, of Havre de Grace, crossed two items off his bucket list: See the Ravens play in and win a Super Bowl and go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

They all said New Orleans was a fabulous host city, and everything about their trips, except maybe for the power outage during the game, went smoothly. They made memories that will last a lifetime.

Knight wasn't sure what to expect.

"But once I got there and started seeing all the fans, it was like a home game, but much more atmospheric and more electric," he said.

He cheered so much at Sunday's game, "I left my voice in the Super Dome and I'm not sure I'll ever find it, but it was worth it."

Awash in purple

New Orleans was literally awash in purple, Knight said, and Ravens fans far outnumbered 49ers fans. Even New Orleans Saints faithful were pulling for Baltimore in the big game.

"Everyone was high-fiving us and saying go Ravens," Knight, who went with his brother, Tim, of Perry Hall, said. "I'm not sure why, but we liked it."

For a football fan, walking around New Orleans was like being a kid in a candy store. On the street he saw Jonathan Ogden, the former Raven whose selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was announced Saturday night, and Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens general manager, among many others.

The game, he said, as many Ravens fans will attest, was one of two halves. After Jacoby Jones ran back the kickoff, Knight thought the Ravens were on their way to a blowout.

"But then the lights went out and it was a different game from that point," he said.

The Ravens fans fell silent and 49ers fans took over, until the end.

"But they won. And it all worked out, they got it together when they needed to," he said. "It's not the first time they had us on the edge of our seats wondering if they'd be able to pull it out or not."

'Trip of a lifetime'

Adams, who was at the game with her husband, Keith, and her son, Joe Conroy, of Forest Hill, and his friend, Nick Skusis, of Bel Air, said she cried at the end of the game when the Ravens won. That was once she could breathe again.

"At the end, as the clock ran out, the last two minutes we literally held our breath. I cried," she said. "All of those emotions at one time. I didn't get excited until I saw 00 on scoreboard [clock]."

And from her seat at the 20-yard line, Adams had a bird's eye of the final defensive stand.

"We were right where it was happening. That goal line stand at the end was amazing," she said.

"During the game, especially the second half, I had the usual elevated blood pressure, heart beating rapidly that I had most of the season. I also had the added sensation of feeling like I was going to throw up," she said. "When the 49ers made their comeback, I really had to start taking deep breaths, pull myself away. It was almost too much."

Adams, whose voice was just starting to come back Tuesday, said she was without a lot of words.

"It was a trip of a lifetime, I'm so glad we did it. We would have regretted it if we didn't," she said.

"We'll be talking about it for years and years."

Now that they're back, Adams is planning another Super Bowl party, one with everyone from their trip.

"We'll get a bunch of food, do the whole TV watching thing and relive it," Adams said. "It will be much more relaxed knowing the outcome."

Father-son trip

Nelson, of Forest Hill, went with his father, Cole Nelson, also of Forest Hill.

"It was phenomenal, just a lot of fun. What better place to go to a Super Bowl," he said.

He, too, said it seemed like everyone was pulling for Baltimore.

"New Orleans is a hard-working city, they can relate to Baltimore," Nelson said. "Plus San Francisco knocking out the Saints in the playoffs last year probably didn't help."

The game, he said, was extremely nerve-racking.

"But being a Baltimore fan, you expect that. That's how the whole playoffs have been, except for the New England game," he said. "That's what's so great about football, the score can change at any point."

The difference between being at the game and seeing it on TV, he said, is the energy.

"You feel like you are part of the game. It was priceless," he said. "And them winning in that fashion, being there to witness the confetti and to be able to celebrate that way is just really special."

Along for the ride

The game was difficult to watch for Hoback, a third-grade teacher at Meadowvale Elementary School in Havre de Grace.

"During the game and of course after, I was drained, mentally, physically, emotionally," said Hoback, who went with a group of 140 Ravens fans. "As we walked out of the stadium, people said to us 'You just won the Super Bowl, you guys are awfully quiet.'"

Hoback has been with the Ravens for their entire playoff run, from the home game against Indianapolis, to Denver, to New England and, finally, to New Orleans.

"It was once in a lifetime. I finished the ride with them and got to see Ray go out on top," the season ticket holder said.

"I was very lucky to have the opportunity to go and to represent Ravens Nation," Hoback said. "It was great to see it in person. It's one thing to watch it on TV, but to see it and get the environment and take it all in, they're memories I'll never forget."

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