Charlesetta Nganga lives in Milledgeville, but she wasn’t about to stay home to watch her beloved Saints play in their first Super Bowl.
She drove all the way to Macon to watch the game at the Cox Capitol Theatre. There she found a table of Saints fans, who of course became her new best friends. Nganga, who grew up in Louisiana and married a Kenyan, had come with a handmade “Go Saints!” sign, Mardi Gras beads and an umbrella for use in dancing second-line style once the Saints gave her something to celebrate. She also had whistles to give out to her new friends.
“I came to teach the folks the culture,” Nganga said.
She was one of about 100 people who watched the game at the Capitol, a historic downtown movie house that was restored and reopened four years ago. Sunday’s Super Bowl was the third one shown at the Capitol.
Nganga, who moved to Milledgeville last year, said she comes to Macon almost every weekend.
“Macon reminds me of a miniature French Quarter in New Orleans,” she said. “It keeps me from feeling homesick. It’s got a vibe of its own. It’s got a culture. I love it.”
Asked why she chose the Capitol over a sports bar, Nganga said, “What sports bar has a 30-foot screen? Hello!”
The crowd seemed evenly divided between Saints fans and Colts fans. Admission was free. Guests could order Buffalo wings and other bar delicacies from the in-house restaurant. The bar offered a special deal for draft beer drinkers: Saints fans got yellow cups and Colts fans got blue cups. If your team was winning, you got a refill at half price.
The game was Jerome Brown’s second visit to the Capitol. That morning he had come there to attend a service of the New City Church, as he does every Sunday.
“It’s good what they’re doing for the people and the homeless,” Brown said. “It’s real nice. They’re real nice people.”
Brown was pulling for the Colts.
“I love Peyton Manning,” he said. “He’s just an outstanding quarterback. I would love to see Peyton Manning and the Colts win the Super Bowl.”
Downtown resident Howie Handsel wasn’t taking sides. In fact, he had come dressed as a referee. Handsel, a former TV news reporter, was in character as Ned the Referee for a comedy sketch video he was shooting for his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/howiereportinglive. “I’m a big advocate and supporter for downtown,” Handsel said. “The fact that people are coming downtown on a Sunday is a huge thing.”