Souper Bowl of Caring
Lawrence Hammer of Hanna City, Ill., sells a raffle to ticket to Shelby Wallace during the Big Game Party hosted Sunday, Feb. 7 in St. Ambrose University's Cosgrove Hall's cafeteria. "It's an alternative to people going out and getting drunk, and proceeds go to victims of Haiti," Hammer said. (Ryan Stone/Quad-City Times) Ryan Stone/Quad-City Times

One Davenport party on Super Bowl Sunday was bulging with people and was alcohol-free. Another smaller Davenport party featured hot dogs, pizza and beer.

Fans had a great time at both venues as they watched the the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.

In Cosgrove Hall at St. Ambrose University, more than 400 football crammed into the cafeteria to cheer on the teams and help the Campus Ministries effort to send money to Haiti. Alan Hartley, Cosgrove Hall director and supervisor of student staff members in the building, helped plan the Big Game Party that has become an annual event on the St. Ambrose campus.

"My staff sat down and talked about this in November," he said. "We knew we wanted to do a social component." The event, he said, is a "safe, fun environment for people to come out and enjoy the game."

After the earthquakes in Haiti, event planners added Haiti support by selling tickets for raffle prizes, many of which were donated by local businesses and various departments at the university.

No alcohol was served, and no admission fee was charged. Door prizes ranged from a Nintendo Wii to St. Ambrose gear and an autographed photo of Minnesota Vikings player Percy Harvin.

Student after student joined the throng late Sunday afternoon until the room was filled with the sounds of greetings and, eventually, cheers. Attendees watched on multiple TV screens as Pierre Garcon, a native of Haiti, scored the game's first touchdown for Indianapolis.

Among them was Miles Chiotti, of Roanoke, Ill., a junior and resident assistant at the university. "I'm here to hang out with friends for this event, watch the game and have some good food," he said. "This gives student who cannot drink yet a good opportunity to enjoy a social event and not have to be around alcohol."

Sophomore Heather Runyon, of St. Louis, came to enjoy "great food and wings, and to be social. All my friends are here. And I want to see the Saints win!" she said. "My entire group is under 21, so it does offer other opportunities (besides parties with alcohol). And then you don't feel pressured."

Arielle Willson, a junior from Fort Madison, Iowa, is the assistant hall director of the Cosgrove staff. "I directed the RAs about their duties," she said. Her job was to distribute prizes and help call numbers.

This is the third year she has enjoyed the party. She said she appreciated all the local businesses who donated more than 50 items for door prizes.

"We did all this for $145," she said. "The money raised goes to Haiti. The raffle ticket money would have gone as a big door prize, but we thought this would be a nice way to raise money for (Haiti)," she said.

William Vinci, of Frankfort, Ill., is a freshman who came to the event for "football, wings and cheerleaders.

"This event is pretty cool," he said. "It gets Ambrosians together as a community, and helps Haiti out."

The St. Ambrose event was part of thousands of similar service projects throughout the United States that use the Super Bowl as a focus for campaigns to help the needy, including Souper Bowl of Caring activities in which young people use pots to collect money for charity in churches and other communities.

Meanwhile, at The Capitol Theatre, 330 W. 3rd St., Davenport, about 75 Saints and Colts fans gathered to watch the game in high definition on a 46-foot screen. Vendors sold pizza, hot dogs and beer.

"This is the first year we've done the Super Bowl," said Jason Gilliland, of Davenport, operations manager for the Capitol. He said the crowd was a bit light, but attributed that to parties in peoples' homes. "We're about the big space, the big screen," he said.

The crowd roared and cheered as play continued. "With the PA (public address) system, you get a big sound. You hear all the hits and crunches and tackles," Gilliland said.

He said the Capitol is full during similar events for fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes. "Again, this is new," he said. "As the word gets out more people will come."

Providing a venue for big games is part of the events mix at the Capitol that includes upcoming performances by Ballet Quad-Cities, Bryan Adams, Lotus and Moe, he said. "We're trying to bring in a lot of different kinds of events that will appeal to a lot of different people."