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Super Bowl XXXVII

Bucs fans take time to bask in glow of victory

By CURTIS KRUEGER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2003

From Raymond James Stadium to a tai chi class, from BucsStuff in St. Petersburg to Bosnian Food Store 2 in Clearwater, the conversation on Monday focused on one unifying event.

And no one said it better than Janet Shoaf's preschool class at First United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg.

"The Bucs won!" shouted about 20 exuberant 4- and 5-year-olds as they waved Buccaneer flags at cars driving along Fourth Street N.

All across the Tampa Bay area, the Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not only the toast of the town but the talk of it as well. Virtually anyone who ventured outside found fans and more fans, reliving a game some thought they would never see. Many took the day off so they could celebrate some more.

"The celebration at our house will go on for another day or two," said Janet Walker of Tampa. "And I'm sure it will take much longer for this great feeling to go away."

She bought a couple of dozen red-and-pewter cupcakes, a cake and a giant cookie with a Bucs logo at the Publix on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

Letter carrier Chris Hampton, 43, said everyone talked about the Bucs during his rounds in St. Petersburg on Monday, especially because he wore a Bucs NFC Champions hat.

"I don't think everyone's ever been this happy in the Tampa Bay area. . . . This really put the whole bay area together," he said.

At least one fan came into a Kash 'N Karry on Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg in such an exuberant mood that he hugged a cashier. Another customer, retired teacher Don Zarr, came in for the weekly groceries wearing a bright red Buccaneers cap and sweatshirt.

"Oh yes, I wouldn't have missed it," said Zarr, 69, when a cashier asked him if he had seen the game. "Twenty-seven years I've been waiting for this. That was nice. It might not ever happen again."

The game was over, but clearly the excitement was not. Wayne Richard, a loan processor, already has a Buccaneers polo-style shirt, a Buccaneers NFC Champion shirt and a Buccaneers/Raiders Super Bowl shirt. But he turned his lunch hour Monday into a quest for a shirt saying the Bucs had won the Super Bowl.

Lori Beminio was scouting for a Super Bowl ball cap Monday. She scheduled a vacation day from her job at an insurance company.

"I wasn't sure when (the team) would be coming home," explained Beminio, 48, of St. Petersburg. "And I didn't know how hard I'd be partying last night."

She wasn't the only person who didn't go to work. Linda Sims, who works at the pro shop of the Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club, struggled Monday afternoon to answer phones because some employees took the day off.

"I'm the only breathing person in here," said Sims.

Mark Proper, who lives in Holiday in Pasco County, said he heard of a few co-workers who called in sick at United Parcel Service in Tampa. He stayed up late for the game but didn't consider playing hooky.

"I don't live in a fantasy world; I have to go to work," he said.

So Proper, 42, woke up at 4 a.m. and drove to his job. At work the mood was pleasant, he said. "Everyone just kind of had a smirk on their face."

Haris Delic, 23, manager of the Bosnian Food Store in Clearwater, also was smiling. He has learned to love American football since moving to this country more than two years ago. The Bucs' victory, he said, was similar to the feeling he would have "if the Bosnian national team had won the World Cup" in soccer.

In Citrus County, some customers were still upset because about 1,000 customers of Adelphia Cable lost service when an underground cable was cut. Company officials said they suspect vandalism.

In Tampa, 51-year-old James Neely drew smiles as he wore a Keyshawn Johnson jersey with his blue U.S. Postal Service shorts and delivered mail.

Passing cars honked at him. People on the sidewalks shouted approval.

At a Citgo station at Nebraska Avenue and Linebaugh Avenue, a man approached Neely, handed him $10 and walked away, wearing the look of a defeated Raiders fan.

Neely turned and smiled.

"A gentleman's bet," he said, and went back to delivering mail.

-- Times staff writers Brady Dennis, Graham Brink, Marlene Sokol, Jorge Sanchez and Shannon Breen contributed to this report.

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