WHO DEYTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Super Bowl fever has broken out for the Cincinnati Bengals fanbase. Not just for those in Cincinnati, but also for long-suffering Bengals fans scattered throughout the Bluegrass State.
That may not be more apparent than in the little Ohio River city of Dayton, Kentucky. The football ties between Dayton, Kentucky, and Cincinnati date back decades.
"The original Cincinnati Bengals were founded in 1937, they had their very first scrimmage at our high school, O.W. Davis Field, which we still use to this day for our Dayton Greendevil football team," said Dayton Mayor Ben Baker.
The Greendevils are the hometown team. But even though the past thirty, long, sometimes excruciating, years this remains Bengals Country.
"Everybody gets excited for the football season, and then things progress and you're just broken-hearted again," said Shane Coffey, the owner of Galactic Fried Chicken in Dayton.
When the Cincinnati Bengals began marching through the AFC playoffs, Mayor Baker his crew looked for a way to get behind the team.
"And the city administrator said, 'Who Dey. Dayton. Who Deyton Kentucky,'" said Mayor Baker. "Next day we had our ten-foot banner out front, then a couple days later we had these Who Deyton postcards."
The most popular item for sale has been "Who Deyton" T-shirts. They're being made and sold at Transfer Station in nearby Newport.
"6-700 of them (sold so far.) And that's, you know we still got a week and a half left. So we'll probably go through a thousand of them," said Bill Wiefering, the owner of the shop and a Dayton native. "I'm one person you don't lose the love for the city. It's a nice little river town where everybody knows everybody."
"We're a little river city. We're not Ohio, but we're close enough," said Crystal Johnson.
Johnson is the co-owner of Hometown Heroes in Dayton. The restaurant was standing-room-only when Evan McPherson's kick sent the Bengals to the Super Bowl, and joy exploded throughout the bar and town.
"This is a great thing for our region, for our city. It's pent-up anger turned into pent-up joy. And we're loving every minute of it," said Mayor Baker.
There are Super Bowl Weekend events planned in the city of Dayton. Johnson says every seat at her restaurant is reserved for the big game. They're all hoping for a big celebration.