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Originally published Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM

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Football fans play in heart of Manhattan

Super Bowl Boulevard has a toboggan run, NFL players giving autographs, shopping — and freebies.


Associated Press

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Bundled-up football fans are sliding down a gleaming toboggan run in the heart of Manhattan, the centerpiece of a Super Bowl outdoor street fair that has invaded Broadway, New York’s busiest thoroughfare.

The toboggan run on Super Bowl Boulevard is several stories high and looks like a giant slide.

“We’re never going to get to do that again down Broadway,” said Margaux Untracht, 28, as she exited the toboggan run with a group of co-workers on Wednesday. “It was fast, but not that fast. It was awesome.”

Organizers expect more than a million people to visit the boulevard, a 13-block stretch of fan fun on Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets, including Times Square. It’s open until Saturday night. e which is open through Saturday. Lines are getting long as people waited in frigid temperatures to get autographs from NFL players and milled about the many tents emblazoned with corporate logos.

Steven Bell, 52, who works for the city’s transit authority, was standing in line to register for a free prize.

“I was waiting for this all year,” said Bell, who lives in Brooklyn and was hoping to catch a glimpse of his favorite Giants players. “I’m not gonna miss a single day.”

Bell did not, however, plan on paying $5 to take a turn on the toboggan run.

“My mind says yes, but my back says no,” he said.

Freebies were being given out all over, from tiny cups of hot chocolate from The Coffee Bean to mini Snickers bars that were snatched up in the Snickers-branded tent. People walked around carrying steaming plates of pizza from the red Papa John’s truck and adjoining tent, while others played video games under the green Xbox tent.

A digital billboard displayed player statistics on one corner. A few blocks south, a cluster of narrow digital columns broadcast NFL game footage. Children ran through an obstacle course at one exhibit and kicked footballs into a net over a miniature field goal post at another.

“We couldn’t afford to go to the Super Bowl, so we wanted to be in the next closest thing to it,” said Carol Fett, of Jefferson Township, N.J., who was at the boulevard with her 24-year-old daughter, Kelly. “It just brings up excitement in the area during our lull time. The winter is kinda, you don’t do much. It gets people back out in the city, the businesses are making money. Excitement all around.”

In Bryant Park, a giant “Pepcity” tent had been erected by PepsiCo, where booths served free samples of foods incorporating products like cherry Pepsi BBQ wings and Pepsi-braised brisket. Broadway cast members from shows including “Chicago” and “Rocky” performed musical numbers.

Shawn Abbot, 38, of Brooklyn was wearing a Seahawks hat, even though he’s a Jets fan at heart.

“You can’t beat free food. They’re keeping us entertained, keeping people fed,” he said. “It’s wonderful.”



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