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Sports

Bengals fans since the start - literally - these seniors won't miss out on the Super Bowl fun

A Maple Knoll employee poses with a residents using a walker. Both women are wearing Bengals shirts.
Provided by Maple Knoll
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Maple Knoll employee Suzanne House and resident Janice Isaacs show off their Bengals pride.

Longtime Bengals fans at the Maple Knoll Communities are determined to not be left out of the Super Bowl celebrations this year. The facility is hosting its own watch party with booze and stadium food for about 200 residents, many of whom have been decked out in their Bengals gear since the team's last win.

Nancy Coletta, 75, has been a Bengals fan since she was in college and the team started in 1968. She watched last week's game with one of her nieces, doing a crossword puzzle through parts of the first half because the game didn't look promising. But by the end, she was on her feet cheering the team to victory.

"I was so relieved. I couldn't believe it. We said, 'Am I in a dream? Am I dreaming?' And then my niece said it perfectly. She said, 'No, it's not a dream — they won.' It's like, oh my gosh, it's like your heart is just pounding really hard," she said. "I just really get into the games, obviously."

Coletta says there's been a buzz of excitement around the nursing home since the win, with people wearing the Cincinnati Bengals team gear, excitedly awaiting the big game.

Nancy Coletta, 75, wears a bright orange Bangles T-shirt and point to the team's logo on her chest.
Provided by Maple Knoll
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Nancy Coletta shows off her Bengals pride this week after cheering the team to victory against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday.

Jim Hoeh, senior director of community experience and lifelong Bengals fan, says the Maple Knoll facilities didn't have activities in January due to high COVID-19 rates in the community.

"We weren't able to get together for the playoffs," he says. "So we're super excited as Hamilton County numbers have come down (that) we're able to do this Super Bowl party."

The party is happening at the Springdale facility, where a new auditorium was recently completed. Hoeh says there's not a bad seat in the house and the residents will be socially distanced.

"I've got my staff volunteers to come and work the entire game. A couple of their husbands are going to bartend for us. We're going to be drinking and eating. We're gonna have stadium steamed hot dogs, pizza, nachos and just have a really good time together," he said.

The Bengals square off against the Los Angeles Rams Feb.13 at 6:30 p.m. for their first appearance in the Super Bowl since 1988.