PARISHIONERS CHEER for themselves before a football game during the Super Freeze; below, they enjoy games and food (Emily Benson photo).
PARISHIONERS CHEER for themselves before a football game during the Super Freeze; below, they enjoy games and food (Emily Benson photo).
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In the parish center of St. Pius X Church in Loudonville, a little girl stood in front of an inflatable football goal, looking determined. With a foam football in her hand and her eyes locked on the target, she sent the ball soaring through the air and into the goal -- a perfect shot.

"Mommy!" she cried out in excitement. "I made it!"

The game, "Quarterback Blitz," was just one of many activities at annual Super Freeze, a pre-Super Bowl party held at St. Pius Feb. 4 as the New England Patriots warmed up to meet the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Each year, children and adults come to St. Pius for a day of food, fun, fellowship and, most importantly, football.

"I love it: the food, the friends, the people," said Jim McCabe, a parishioner and director of St. Pius' soccer program. Rev. James Walsh, pastor, created the tailgate party in 2013 as a way to bring the parish community together, especially during the winter months when "cabin fever" takes hold.

"It's just a way for people of all ages to come out and have some fun," he said. "That's what it's all about: People smiling, laughing and having a good time."

As for who would be the winner, he confessed, "I'm hoping for a tie because I don't like either team."

That may have been the case for other parishioners, as well. Some sported team jerseys and t-shirts for teams that weren't even playing in the epic game.

Maureen O'Hagan helps organize the Super Freeze. This year, more than 300 people came; she said attendance grows each year. "The [parish] community here is great," she told The Evangelist. "And this [party] helps you to meet up with people in your community."

Super Bowl parties are famous for their food, and St. Pius' parish center was filled with tables of chicken wings, pizza, salad, Reuben sandwiches, Stewart's ice cream and cake. This year, attendees were also asked to bring a food item or two for donation to the food pantry at Sacred Heart parish in Albany.

Mrs. O'Hagan said the parish tries to add something new each year. There was a photo booth, a trivia contest, a raffle, face painting and games -- and, at 2:45 p.m., an announcement was made for the start of the much-anticipated annual football game with Father Walsh.

Young parishioners lined up in the snow for battle. "Father Walsh better watch out!" joked John O'Hagan.

Attendees agreed it's the community at St. Pius that makes the event such a success.

"We love the church and the community," said Jeff Church. "And the event is great. It's a family-friendly environment and has stuff for adults and kids."

Will Jelstron, a junior at Shaker High School, has been volunteering for the Super Freeze since its inception: "It's great seeing everybody talking to people, and the food's pretty good."

"It's just a judgment-free parish," added Lydia Deyo. "I used to go to other churches, and it isn't what it is here."

The party lasted until 4 p.m., when attendees headed home to watch the game. History was made: The Eagles bested the Patriots, 41-33, winning their first Super Bowl ever.