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Friends celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in different ways and at various venues
Yuri Henry attempts to block a pass by Dannie Dingess during the fourth annual “Stone Bowl” at City Park. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan
As the New England Patriots battled the New York Giants in the Arizona desert Sunday evening, some Gainesville residents hashed it out in front yards and area parks while others watched Super Bowl XLII on a 111-inch screen at Sweet Magnolia’s on Main Street.

Rebecca Clanton, who co-owns Sweet Magnolia’s, said she expected more than 100 people to show up for the restaurant’s family-friendly Super Bowl party. Party-goers enjoyed chili, wings and hot dogs and watched local group The Red Dirt Band perform prior to the big game.

Clanton said she seized the Super Bowl as an opportunity to spread word of her new restaurant venture, The Magnolia Grill, which is slated to open in mid-March on the bottom floor of the Midtown Market building, in place of the recently closed bar The Boiler Room. She said the restaurant’s fare can be described as "Southern soul food with a twist."

Ted Tuck, the booking and entertainment manager for Sweet Magnolia’s and The Magnolia Grill, said the restaurants’ owners are attempting to replace the young dance party that was the vibe of The Boiler Room with a more upscale restaurant that features live music and entertainment in a venue that also attracts sports fans. Tuck said he organized the Super Bowl party at Midtown Market to gradually introduce the idea of The Magnolia Grill to Gainesville residents.

"The Super Bowl is always a great event, and is a good way to start to let people know that there’s something different on the square in Gainesville," Tuck said. "We don’t want to have the same old sports bar thing where you have a thousand TVs and you’re breaking your neck. What we’re trying to do is a little more diverse. We want to have different kinds of entertainment, like comedy, improv troops, bands — and not just cover bands."

Bud Hewell attended the party at Sweet Magnolia’s Sunday and said there’s no doubt about which team he’s supporting for this year’s Super Bowl.

"I’m a Patriots fan all the way, but I’m sort of a closet Patriots fan," Hewell said.

He said he was looking forward to watching the big game on the big screen while in the company of close friends at Sweet Magnolia’s.

"Good live music, good people, good food, a few drinks, a big screen TV," Hewell said of the party. "What more could you want?"

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