Only show in town as Super Bowl debuts on Broadway

Super Bowl fever gripped freezing New York on Wednesday with a swath of Broadway taken over by thousands of football fans, four days before the biggest US sporting spectacle.

It may have been a bracing 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius), but that did not stop enthusiastic New Yorkers from joining in the fun, as they and excited supporters of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks mingled good-heartedly.

The two teams face off Sunday in Super Bowl 48 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, in nearby New Jersey, in what is being billed as potentially the coldest National Football League title decider in the Super Bowl era.

Not that that has done anything to dampen the spirits of the 80,000 who will witness the showdown live and the tens of thousands of others in the Big Apple who are enjoying the considerable sideshow -- and all the American-style razzamatazz that inevitably goes with it.

Broadway has been partially closed to traffic for four days as of Wednesday and transformed into a "Super Bowl Boulevard" spanning 13 blocks and boasting a range of free events and activities, including a huge slide 18 meters (60 feet) high and 54 meters long.

"They usually play the Super Bowl in a warmer place and we don't know if they'll ever play it here again," said Steve Keane, from Staten Island, who along with his wife Judy and daughter Stephanie took a ferry and train to get a piece of the action.

"It takes a long time to get a Super Bowl," he added. "This is the biggest sporting event in the United States. Everybody has a Super Bowl party, everyone watches the Super Bowl. Even if you're not a fan of football, you watch the Super Bowl. This is something very American."

A long line snaked through the fan zone, each person patiently waiting their turn to meet Philadelphia Eagles star wide receiver DeSean Jackson and grab his autograph. Some had donned colorful wigs or painted their faces.

Concerts will be held every night, with rock band Blondie set to wow the crowds on Saturday evening, even as temperatures plunge and the threat of snow hangs menacingly in the air.

Liam, eight, was among the those who thronged one of the world's most famous avenues, near Times Square, where football fans vied to have their pictures snapped with the Vince Lombardi trophy or just catch a glimpse of the prize that will go to Seattle or Denver.

His mother said she even let her two sons skip school for the day.

"I wanted them to live this unique experience it," she said.

Charlene Siegelberg, 68, a retired teacher, was also gung ho.

"The Super Bowl will not return to New York for at least ten years," she said.

She will be among the more than 110 million television viewers in the US projected to watch Sunday's game -- about a third of the population.