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Pittsburgh Steelers fans find a home at Blues

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Super Bowl XL
Sun., Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Should you step inside Blues House of Wings and choose a seat that obscures any view of the palmetto trees that line Hwy. 17 in Mt. Pleasant, you just might believe that you're in Western Pennsylvania.

Throw on your black and gold Steelers jersey, order a mug of Iron City Light from the bar, and wave your Terrible Towel — the regulars might even invite you to cop a squat at their table in front of the big-screen, high-def plasma TV.

With four Super Bowl rings and an opportunity to win "one for the thumb" this year, it's not surprising that Pittsburgh has such a loyal following. What is impressive, however, is that 660 miles south of the Steel City, dozens of Steelers fans crowd into the same bar each week to cheer their beloved team.

"I don't know half of the people in (Blues), but I feel like they're my best friends," says David Frommer, who relocated to the Lowcountry from Pittsburgh about six months ago. He and his 3-year-old son Tyler have watched every Steelers game this season at Blues. "The crowd in Blues is electric. It's like we're at the game — yelling at the coaches, cheering for the players. It's unbelievable."

This haven for black and gold diehards came about more than 10 years ago when a few other folks from The 'Burgh would meet up to watch the Steelers when they would play in a nationally televised game. Then Blues owner Robert Bonnette decided to buy a satellite so the Pittsburgh fans could watch the Steelers every Sunday at Blues.

"We told him if he wanted to have a Steelers bar, he'd need to do two things — get Iron City Light and make Primanti Brothers sandwiches," says Al Zak, a Pittsburgh native. Primanti Brothers is famous for piling gobs of coleslaw and fries onto their sandwiches. "Well, he got the I.C. Light, but the sandwiches never really worked out."

The fans settled for wings, though, and throughout the years, more and more Steelers fans have come to call Blues their Sunday home.

Bonnette recently opened a second Blues location on Hwy. 41. And with the new bar came a whole new group of Steelers regulars. One of the regulars (a Pennsylvanian, of course) has a son who is serving in Iraq, according to Bonnette.

"The regulars took one of our Steelers banners, they all signed it and mailed it to him," Bonnette says. "They're hoping it gets to him in time for the game. Who knows — maybe it will end up on national TV."

As Steelers fans gear up for Super Bowl XL, Blues is doing its part to prepare for the big game. Bonnette says there will be bucket beer specials (including I.C. Light) and Terrible Towels for sale. The kitchen with be serving up plenty of wings (what would football be without them?), but perhaps the hottest item coming out of the kitchen will be another Pittsburgh favorite — pierogies.

"We'll be all black and gold — I doubt there will be a Seattle fan in the whole place," Bonnette says.

Affectionately called a "drinking town with a football problem," Pittsburgh loves its Steelers, and that's a bond that doesn't break easily. Far beyond the banks of the Allegheny, Monongehela, and Ohio rivers this Sunday, Pittsburghers will don their black and gold, Terrible Towels in hand, and cheer for their beloved Steelers.

"When you're with people and you have (the Steelers) in common, you feel like you're at home," Zak says. "No matter where you are and how long you've been gone, you're always from Pittsburgh."

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