WRIGLEYVILLE — A Wrigleyville bar will be awash in orange and blue for Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII.
"It will be a big party at the Irish Oak all day long," said Bronco Nation president Erin Carlstrand, of Lakeview. "They will have old Bronco videos playing before the game, food and drink specials, and an appearance of our own Thunder" — the Broncos' mascot.
Carlstrand, who's from suburban St. Charles but graduated from the University of Denver, and created the group with three of her friends 10 years ago to find other locals who lived and died with the Broncos. The group originally went to Mickey's Bar and Patio in Lincoln Park and Riverview Tavern in Roscoe Village before moving to The Irish Oak four years ago.
Participants are hard-core Broncos fans. A good example is after Denver upset Pittsburgh on a Tim Tebow overtime touchdown pass in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, some of the celebratory Bronco Nation members walked to a nearby Steelers-friendly bar and performed a "Tebow" praying pose for a photo.
Many of the Chicago Bronco Nation members are like Steve Stearns, who grew up in Denver and moved to the Midwest for work or college. Stearns, 39 of Lincoln Square, has lived in the Windy City since 2002.
He watches most of the Broncos' games at The Irish Oak but was fortunate to see last week's AFC Championship Game in person at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with his parents and brother. After the 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots, friends and family spray-painted his bald head in Broncos orange in the stadium's parking lot.
"That was really special for me," said Stearns, whose parents have owned Broncos season tickets since the 1960s. "The Broncos are just kind of a family thing. That's what my parents were into growing up, and as I've gotten older, it's become more important for me."
Sunday's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 32). Carlstrand is trying to buy tickets to the game but will be at The Irish Oak otherwise.
The Broncos, who are slight favorites, are 2-4 all-time in the Super Bowl, while Seattle lost in its only appearance.
"I think we'll win," Stearns said. "I think we have the better team, and I think our defense is better than people give them credit for."