Football game brings color to gloomy day

Cheers, auburn colors and bellowing brass instruments brought flurries of pre-Emerald Bowl energy to San Francisco on a gray Saturday.

Nearly 1,000 football fans — among them scores of visitors to San Francisco — crowded a stage next to an ice skating rink at Union Square late Saturday morning as marching bands and cheerleaders drummed up excitement for the evening’s Emerald Bowl.

Much of the crowd drifted away from the civic square after USC’s cheerleaders and musicians finished entertaining the tightly packed mass of fans.

But a group of enthused Boston College fans lingered long enough with a shrinking horde of USC-supporting adversaries to watch the East Coast team’s supporting acts play instruments and hurl one another gracefully into the air.

The brief pregame event was held in the heart of San Francisco’s hotel-and-shopping district, a fitting location given that the college football game attracted scores of tourists to The City.

San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau President Joe D’Alessandro said the event provided an important economic boost during an otherwise quiet post-Christmas visitor period.

Many of the fans who weathered the gloomy morning said they were visiting San Francisco for the game, although some were also city residents savoring the hype surrounding the post-Christmas Day bowl.

Most traveling Eagles fans interviewed by The Examiner said they would spend at least a few days in San Francisco.

“We’ll see the game and then we’ll be doing some sightseeing for the next few days,” said Neil Zonfrelli, who was visiting San Francisco from the East Coast with his wife to watch their daughter cheerlead for Boston College.

Crowds gathered in bars surrounding AT&T Park throughout the wintery Saturday afternoon as game time drew near.

Marching bands circled the ballpark, clanging percussion instruments and blowing trumpets as they walked, and fans clamored to catch glimpses of footballers stepping off buses.

USC student Eric Medrano was drinking at MoMo’s opposite the ballpark with friends from Los Angeles early Saturday afternoon, waiting for the game to begin.

The junior arrived by car from L.A. early in the morning. He said he had already visited waterfront tourist hotspots and planned to attend the 49ers game at Candlestick Park today.

Nearby, Kristy Jacobson was drinking with friends as she waited to watch her first Boston College game since 2002, when she graduated from the school.

“I’m excited,” she said.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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