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Originally published January 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM | Page modified January 30, 2014 at 11:55 PM

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Seahawks fan invasion: 12th Man comes to the Big Apple

Seahawks fans are arriving in Manhattan, painting the town blue and green and ready to root on their beloved team in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The blue invasion is picking up steam. In numbers increasing by the hour, Seahawks faithful are arriving in Manhattan from Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, Yakima and all points Puget Sound.

Call it 12th Man meets the Big Apple.

“I’ve never been to New York before, and I just took my first subway ride,” said Rod Briggs, 48, of Seattle. “It was awesome.”

As he spoke, he and pal Les Johnson of the Olympia area held a large “12” flag along a milelong section of Broadway that has been temporarily closed to vehicle traffic and renamed Super Bowl Boulevard.

“Go, Seahawks!” passers-by shouted.

Not far away was Jean Galioto, 67, of Kenmore. She’s been to Rome and London, but never to New York. And husband, Al, 70, said his last visit was so long ago he can’t even remember the decade.

“You feel like a mouse in a huge maze when you look up and see all the tall buildings,” he said.

Imposing as the skyscrapers are, they are not the main draw for the Seattle visitors. These blue-clad travelers are focused on Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII showdown with the Denver Broncos in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.

On Super Bowl Boulevard, visitors can get their photos taken alongside the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the impressive football-on-a-cone piece of hardware the victorious team will haul home.

Visitors and locals, streaming into the area by the thousands, can zoom down a 60-foot-tall toboggan ride, star in their own pretend TV commercial, get autographs from former NFL players, peek into network-broadcast sets and pose for photos with their heads atop Seahawks or Broncos figures poised to surge into action.

Many who came cross-country are trying to get a quick look at New York landmarks between now and Sunday’s game, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. (3:30 p.m. in Seattle.)

The Galiotos have a different strategy: They’re here for eight days, and plan to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero and the Empire State Building in the days after the game.

“We want to see what it’s like after everyone goes home,” Al said.

Sunlight and temperatures in the upper 20s made Gotham feel relatively hospitable Thursday after days of temperatures in the teens and stinging, icy breezes.

It’s like a giant Mardi Gras festival held in a meat locker.

Seahawks fans along Broadway spoke confidently of Sunday’s encounter. Levi and Lorraine Tyree, of Woodinville, held up a “Legion of Boom,” sign, homage to the Seahawks’ hard-hitting defensive backs.

Levi Tyree, 38, says he expects pressure from Seattle pass-rushers to rattle Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. “He’s going to float a couple of passes out, and we’ll get some early turnovers.”

When the dust settles, Seattle will prevail, 23-14, he said.

Kathi Mercy, 63, of Yakima, calls for a 27-24 Seattle win. She’s here with sons Fred, 40, and Steve, 28.

Fred Mercy said the family has been season-ticket holders since his grandfather purchased the seats in 1976, the Seahawks’ opening season.

Broadway’s party atmosphere, he said, “is better than Las Vegas.”

Not all of the visitors are in blue. Brian Carey, in orange, waved a large Broncos flag. Carey now lives in New Jersey but resided in Colorado as a youngster and again in his early 20s, working at a ski resort.

“The Broncos have always been my team. We had John Elway, and now Peyton Manning,” he said. “The Broncos have been a great team for a long time.”

Carey predicted a Denver victory, but didn’t offer a specific score.

Not all the action in Manhattan is along Broadway. On the Upper East Side, the bar Carlow East is becoming a legendary Seahawks support center.

This week, its main sign outside is covered with a banner reading “Hawks Nest East.”

Revelers inside are a mix of Seattle-area visitors, New Yorkers with strong Puget Sound ties and Seahawks fans who’ve never been to the Northwest but adopted the team.

The bar was a must-see stop for Allison Clarke and Erik Meyer of Capitol Hill.

Clarke wasn’t a football fan until she started dating Meyer five years ago. “He took me to a game, and from that first game, I was hooked. I didn't know how fun and interesting it is.” Meyer has relatives in upstate New York, so they visit often. One of the chief draws of New York City, he said, is its seemingly inexhaustible selection of ethnic restaurants.

“It’s like we eat in a different country every time we go out,” he said.

Carlow East regular Kevin McElheran, who lives in New York but grew up in Kent, said the connection he has with Seahawks fans at the bar “makes you feel like you’re part of something.”

And Zach Jump, a Tenino, Thurston County, native who was in a small group that helped foster the creation of the Seahawks scene here a few years ago, said the intensity at the bar has ratcheted up each day this week, with the arrival of more Seattle-area patrons.

“It’s still building,” he said. “I just hope I’m not a complete nervous wreck by Sunday.”

Jack Broom: or 206-464-2222

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