As they indulged in favorite Super Bowl foods, fans of both the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons alternately cheered and jumped to their feet, signaling a touchdown.
The small gathering of Marines and Soldiers came together for a Super Bowl Party on Sunday evening at the Fort Meade USO Center.
The party was sponsored by the USO and Fort Meade’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.
“We definitely have some passionate fans,” said Melyssa Haubenstricker, USO Center supervisor. “Everybody’s having a good time.”
BOSS catered the event with a menu that included sliders, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, nachos and fried onion rings from The Lanes.
“They have a great facility here and we have a decent-size customer base, so the Super Bowl Party is of mutual benefit for both of us,” said Spc. Derek Young, president of BOSS.
Marine Lance Cpl. Nik Hutto of BRAVO Company, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion, came to the party with a group of his battle buddies.
“I’m for the Falcons. I hate the Patriots,” Hutto said. “We’re having a real good time. It’s a good experience to have somewhere to go to watch the game.”
Sgt. Jonathan Lim of the 7245th Medical Support Unit at the Picattiny Arsenal in Morris County, N.J., attended the event after shopping at the Fort Meade Commissary.
“I just came by because I knew they would be having a Super Bowl Party and this is a good place to take a break from school,” said Lim, a law student at the University of Maryland.
“I don’t like the Patriots. The Falcons are the team to beat.”
Sgt. 1st Class Christina Pearson, the garrison’s Sexual Assault Response coordinator, came to promote Fort Meade’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program.
“Service members from 18 to 24 are most likely to be victims of sexual assault in the military,” she said. “I want them to know I’m here and have my office phone number in case they need to reach out.”
Pearson is also a Patriots fan.
“I know Tom Brady is an excellent quarterback and the coach is a genius,” she said.
Throughout the party, Haubenstricker and Young drew raffles for giveaways from Under Armour, a Baltimore-based manufacturer of athletic wear.
The halftime show, featuring Lady Gaga, prompted attendees to clap their hands and sing along to the entertainer’s hit songs.
JoAnne Geary, a USO volunteer and retired military intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency, stood up and danced.
“Lady Gaga is a wonderful entertainer,” she said. “You never know what to expect.”
A USO volunteer for more than five years, Geary said the Super Bowl Party was where she wanted to be.
“I live alone and it’s no fun watching the game by yourself,” she said. “This is the perfect place for me to celebrate with the service members.”
Navy 2nd Class Petty Officer David Brandis of Naval Information Operations Command Maryland also came to cheer on the Falcons.
“New England is a dynasty and nobody likes a dynasty to reign,” he said.
An online student in the nuclear engineering department at Duke University, Brandis said he comes to the USO to study for his exams and attend Tuesday movie night.
“The people here are friendly and they’re here because they want to be here,” he said.
According to Brandis, Lady Gaga’s halftime show was a good indication of the performer’s appeal.
“She’s trying to spread love — and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.