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Cold Weather Forces Chiefs Fans Inside For Super Bowl Celebrations

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

For football fans, like for the rest of us, things are not at all normal. Super Bowl parties in packed living rooms, chips, dips, buffets - those are all out. So are crowded bars full of bare-faced strangers. Better to celebrate with those you live with. Otherwise, it's mask up, go outside and stay at least four foam fingers' lengths away from each other, buddy. Well, in Kansas City, that last option is way too chilly, forcing fans to get creative, as Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: This time last year, Kansas City was boiling over.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MORRIS: The Kansas City Chiefs were in the big game. Fans packed bars and Super Bowl parties...

(CHEERING)

MORRIS: ...Like the one at Marie Hunter's place in suburban Kansas City. Her '50s ranch house is the one where the other immediate neighbors gather each year for the Super Bowl. And she lights up talking about last year's party.

MARIE HUNTER: Oh, my gosh. It was awesome. We were all so excited. Yeah, we had three TVs. They were all so loud. You could barely speak to one another. But it was so, so enjoyable. So...

MORRIS: This year, well, Hunter considered trying to host a party outside. But the forecast calls for a high in the teens.

HUNTER: It's going to be darn cold on Sunday. We won't be outside. Your chili would be frozen before you get your spoon out of it, right?

MORRIS: So Hunter is going to hunker down with her husband and two grown daughters, a little Zoom time with the neighbors and likely some yelling from down the block.

BEN AND STONE CHEATHAM: Go Chiefs.

MORRIS: Neighborhood kids Stone and Ben Cheatham are excited about the game. Their mom, Melissa Cheatham, is a little sad.

MELISSA CHEATHAM: You know, it's hard how there's a new loss that you realize every week. So I hadn't been thinking about the Super Bowl. And then a few weeks ago, I realized, oh, no. That's one more thing we don't get to do this year.

MORRIS: So Cheatham, like a lot of parents, is doing a little extra to spruce up the occasion.

CHEATHAM: I'm going to make some red-and-yellow sprinkle cookies.

MORRIS: Others have more elaborate cooking plans. Matt Ronan says he and his friends and family, a group that includes lots of cooks, waiters and musicians, normally crowd into somebody's house and put on a big fancy spread. This year, they're making food to go.

MATT RONAN: My sister's porch - and we can all meet in her backyard with the fire pit going, just stay long enough to exchange our packages.

MORRIS: Then go home to eat, watch the game and interact on Zoom. Ronan, like a lot of people, practiced socially distanced football partying during the playoffs a couple of weeks ago. It's not all bad, he says.

RONAN: One real advantage to the Zoom call is now my sister in Iowa can be with us. I think that's going to be fun.

MORRIS: Now, some Kansas City Super Bowl traditions are best practiced at a distance.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

MORRIS: Last year, after the Super Bowl, National Weather Service radar picked up the fireworks exploding all across the Kansas City area. And this year, people are stocking up.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

MORRIS: At this fireworks store outside of Kansas City, manager Rick Freeman says sales are pretty brisk.

RICK FREEMAN: We have a lot of people that, over the course of the last year, they just feel like they don't really have a say-so on where their life is going right at this point in time. And they want to celebrate.

MORRIS: Shooting fireworks is illegal in Kansas City, but it's kind of a cute problem compared to its deadly relative, celebratory gunfire.

QUINTON LUCAS: It's something that's been an issue since I was a child, which is people shooting guns up in the air after a celebratory event.

MORRIS: That's Kansas City's mayor, Quinton Lucas.

LUCAS: That's one of the dumbest things that exists. All those bullets come down.

MORRIS: And the police here are staffing up in hopes of handling whatever mayhem may come after the Super Bowl. But with so many people home for the game, at least drunk driving is likely to be down.

For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Kansas City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.