DALLAS - If you think the Democrats had a grand time on Inauguration Day after a 12-year absence from the White House, wait till you see what fans are cooking up for the Dallas Cowboys' first Super Bowl in 14 seasons.
They're stirring buffalo chili and mixing blue margaritas, for starters. They're decking out offices, homes and cars with blue and silver streamers, pennants and posters. Some are even hiring dancers dressed - at least initially - as pompon-waving cheerleaders.
And you don't need any expensive gowns or tuxedos for these affairs.
But how about a big-screen TV? A 46-inch Zenith at Best Buy is $1,699 and a 52-inch Sony is $3,399. Sorry, all the rentals in town have been snatched up for about $175, or the cost of that Super Bowl ticket you didn't get.
The biggest bash is today's Cowboys watching party at the Corral at Texas Stadium in Irving, where 3,000 fans will pack the tent to watch 26 big-screens. Parking and admission are free, but beer and burgers aren't. Novelties will be sold at a discount and pennants will be given at the door.
Becky Elliott, administrative assistant of operations at the stadium, said nobody will be turned away.
"We're going to go ahead and let them mingle outside, kind of like a big tailgate party," she said. "And of course after the game, it'll become an impromptu victory party. I'm sure a lot of fans will show up."
A Tom Thumb grocery store near the Cowboys' Valley Ranch training facilities is serving up free buffalo wings - which have been hard to come by in Dallas for two weeks - and throwing a pregame buffalo barbecue.
"America's Team is back stronger than ever," said Jack Evans Jr., president of Tom Thumb. "We say the time has come to barbecue Buffalo!"
The store also is holding a drawing for two pairs of Super Bowl tickets. Winners must be present and ready to leave immediately via private jet.
Roadside merchants have helped get fans into the spirit with their wares.
Laura Taylor and Kay Yeary, who work for an insurance company in Dallas, stopped by one stand to get presents for friends and family outside Texas.
"We're also getting stuff to wear to the party," Taylor said. "My brother rented a margarita machine and we're having blue margaritas for the Cowboys."
Wendy Sanders of The Cake Lady bakery said she has dozens of orders for Cowboys cakes with either blue icing or blue inside "and no orders for Bills cakes."
Pony kegs were going fast at Centennial Liquor's 37 stores and Red Coleman's 25, employees said.
And some fans are hiring their own cheerleaders, said Clark Johnson, spokesman for J.D. Entertainment, which provides exotic dancers for private parties.
"We're having to hire more dancers," Johnson said Thursday, one day after his newspaper advertisement came out.
The topless dancers dress in cheerleader outfits and strip down to a G-string, he said. Prices start at $150 per hour for one cheerleader.
The people of Buffalo, Texas, 120 miles southeast of Dallas, got into the spirit by changing the name of their town to Blue Star for the weekend.
And what about those folks who overdo it today? The makers of Alka-Seltzer commissioned a study that found more than half of Dallas' residents will attend a Super Bowl party.
So, they dispatched the "Feel Better Fast" brigade with samples of their product and sent out tips to avoid acid indigestion or heartburn with headache, which included:
-- Appointing a referee who will collect a quarter on the spot from anybody who gets too worked up over the game.
-- Blowing frustrations into a balloon and letting it fly around the room.
-- And shooting rubber bands at the television when the announcers say something annoying.