WASHINGTON — Long before they counted down the last 10 seconds of the Super Bowl with a collective roar, the crowd of Redskins fans jammed into the Third Edition saloon in Georgetown Sunday night were hoarse from singing their team's rowdy theme song for the 20th time in less than an hour.
"Hail to the Redskins, Hail Victory!" screamed Greg McGillivary, a neatly dressed attorney, as several patrons jumped on top of the bar and began an impromptu war dance. "Kick their butts. . . . Do it again!" answered Dorothy Jergens, a Mount Vernon University student pinned to the wall by the crush of bodies.
So it went at the crowded bar, which, like so many others in the capital's quaint Georgetown area, were transformed into launching pads for pandemonium as the football game between the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos turned into a rout.
At times, the crowd at the Third Edition seemed beside itself--not quite believing what it was seeing and not wanting the party to end. They sang, they cheered, they mocked Bronco quarterback John Elway in falsetto voices. And, of course, they drank.
"We came down here because this was the quieter place . . . they've got a really crazy bar upstairs here, but we wanted some peace and quiet," said McGillivary, yelling above the din. "But I don't think there's a quiet place for miles around tonight."
Washington has always been known for its passionate football fans, and the Redskins have assumed near-mythical status in this otherwise button-down town. But the rowdy, sometimes manic celebration that took place Sunday night in the Georgetown area may have surprised even the most jaded observers.
With the outcome of the game no longer in doubt, crowds of mostly younger people poured out of the bars and into the streets, triggering a boisterous celebration.
A heavily perspiring 28-year-old accountant named Tony Adamio screamed: "There's nothing sweeter than this!" He announced between gulps of beer that the Redskins "are my reality . . . they are the only reality. Nothing else matters tonight. I will never be the same again."
As he spoke, several college students climbed atop stop lights and swayed back and forth over intersections suddenly overflowing with people and television cameras. A few jumped on top of cars and screamed exuberant curses at the defeated Broncos, while others gathered in groups of six or seven to toss friends high into the air.
All the while, more and more people surged up the sidewalks into the heart of Georgetown, stopping traffic and honking horns. Strangers "high-fived" each other and embraced, while hundreds of intoxicated celebrants waved beer cans and formed a human chain, snaking up and down the street to the beat of bongo drums.
Off to the side, two perplexed Saudi Arabian businessmen watched the milling crowds with bewilderment. The two had just finished a quiet dinner in a French restaurant and had embarked on a stroll. Now they found it difficult to move more than two feet in either direction.
"This is your baseball?" asked Ahmed, one of the businessmen.
"No, no," said his friend, Suleimen. "This is Washington."
The two men were suddenly jostled by a flying wedge of college students, waving T-shirts and screaming: "We're No. 1!"
Nearby, Sandra Evans, 45, and four members of her family were jumping up and down, straining to catch a glimpse of the crowd that was pushing toward the television news trucks.
"I have been a Redskin fan all of my life, and I knew this was going to be a special night, I knew we were blessed . . . because when we came down here we actually got a parking place," she said. "Who could ask for more?"
As drivers of immobilized cars continued to honk their horns, at least one citizen was visibly annoyed by the celebration. Trying to sleep in the darkened alcove of a record store, a homeless man sat up on the pavement and shook his head.
"I wish they would quiet down," he said. "I can't wait for this place to return to normal again."