CAMP ZAMA – Of the millions of football fans around the world who tuned in to watch Super Bowl LIV, the hundreds at Camp Zama were among the most alert.
Kickoff was at 8:30 a.m. here Feb. 3, so many fans, such as Douglas Fields, took their seats for the annual Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation party at the Camp Zama Community Club with cups of coffee in their hands. In Fields’ case, he drank from a Kansas City Chiefs mug.
“Like my sign says, I’m a Kansas City Chiefs fan, no matter where I am around the world,” said Fields, a retired lieutenant colonel who heads the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Zama Middle High School. “Go Chiefs!”
More than 200 members of the community gathered in the ballroom at the Camp Zama Community Club and the club’s Game Time Sports Bar and Grill to watch the game, which ended with a 31-20 win for the Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers, said Randy Benton, special events coordinator for Camp Zama FMWR.
“The Super Bowl is probably the most watched sporting event of the year for the United States, and since we can’t be there, we wanted to give our Soldiers and family members here an opportunity to come together to watch the game,” Benton said.
Jamie Guyer, a teacher who has lived in Japan for about six months, said she appreciated the Camp Zama FMWR party.
“I thought I would be the only person sitting at home watching it alone, so I was so thankful that the Zama community has this party,” Guyer said. “It’s so cool to be able to come and watch it with everyone, [although starting at] 8 a.m. is kind of weird.”
Guyer was ecstatic that the Chiefs, her hometown team, made it to the championship game and won it.
“It’s like my soul is in this game,” Guyer said during the fourth quarter. “It’s incredible. It just feels like my friends, my brothers, are out there on the field.”
Meanwhile, Robert Santana, a fitness specialist for Camp Zama’s Child and Youth Services, walked into the party hoping his jacket that commemorated the San Francisco 49ers’ five Super Bowl wins would be outdated by the end of the game. He was disappointed when he left the club, but still had fun.
“I wanted to come out and show my support for my San Francisco brethren,” Santana said. “I am from San Francisco and I just wanted to come out and enjoy the atmosphere with the community.”
Guyer, Fields and his wife Kathy celebrated together when it became clear the Chiefs were going to win the game, posing for photos in front of the Fields’ six-foot-long sign celebrating their team. The Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory was the second in the franchise’s history, and their first in 50 years.
“I’m proud of [the Chiefs],” Guyer said. “It’s important to me. It’s a real cultural event.”
Camp Zama FMWR began holding the Super Bowl parties about 15 years ago, Benton said.
“People wanted to watch the game, and to watch it at [home] is OK, but we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to get together with some of their neighbors and coworkers and people like that to watch the game,” Benton said.
The event featured the game being broadcast on television screens throughout the club’s large ballroom, with three giant screens at the front of the room. A breakfast bar with bacon, eggs, sausage and other fixings provided food; the Jubilly Dance Crew performed during halftime; and FMWR officials gave away many prizes, including a car from a local car dealership.
The bar was open, but in the ballroom, most tables had coffee cups and orange juice glasses on top instead of beer bottles.
Benton said that for those who did drink, FMWR provided a designated driver program, and officials made several announcements warning patrons not to drink and drive.
“We make sure that even if people did have a couple of drinks, they don’t get in their car and drive,” Benton said.