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There's joy in Pittsburgh after Steelers win sixth title

PITTSBURGH -- Thousands of Steelers fans decked out in black and gold and waving Terrible Towels clogged South Side streets Sunday night, celebrating the team's unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title.

Revelers streamed out of area bars moments after the Steelers sealed their 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa, Fla. Some Pittsburgh fans broke out in song, bellowing Queen's "We are the Champions."

Yellow confetti swirled in the air, and people released gold and black balloons. Almost immediately after the game, Super Bowl championship paraphernalia was being sold in the middle of the street.

Brittany Barcoay, 21, drove seven hours from Liberty University in Virginia just to be in her hometown for the Super Bowl and celebrated outside the Town Tavern, which sported a "Steeler Tavern" banner.

"I have never had so much pride in my city, ever," said Barcoay, decked out in a Jerome Bettis jersey.

Bars were packed in the area popular with college students and the 20-something crowd, with music blaring.

Police in riot gear patrolled the area on bikes and in cars, letting the loud and rowdy -- but orderly -- celebration continue. More than an hour after the game, Pittsburgh police reported no major problems.

In the city's Oakland section, there was a report of one couch set on fire outdoors, and one car was overturned in the revelry. Several small fires were set in trash cans and couches, and there were reports of some broken windows and stolen street signs. Large numbers of police in riot gear and on horseback were out in force, surrounding one fire and keeping the crowd back in an effort to let it burn out.

One man carried a life-size cutout of President Barack Obama, with a Terrible Towel draped around the neck, while a one-man band played in the middle of a blocked-off street and photos of players were projected onto the side of buildings.

Dan Decriscio, 51, returned to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia and had the chance to celebrate yet another NFL title.

"This is awesome," Decriscio said. "I've been here for every Super Bowl. Every one is great. From the first one with Chuck Noll to Mike Tomlin; this is Christmas in February.

Big crowds also gathered in the city's Oakland neighborhood, near the University of Pittsburgh.

Police had blocked off streets so people could celebrate and not worry about cars. Some people tried to carry a couch onto Forbes Ave. in Oakland, but police took it away.

In one neighborhood south of Pittsburgh, people lit fireworks and ran outside and cheered after the game.

Crowds spilled out the doors of Primanti's Bros., Pittsburgh's famous gut-busting sandwich shop.

Rocky Plassio, a 32-year-old high school teacher from the suburb of Washington, had his 3-year-old son, Noah, perched on his shoulders. The elder Plassio made sure his son didn't miss the celebration.

"The last time the Steelers won, he was an infant," Rocky said. "If you're from Pittsburgh, the Steelers are really part of your culture. It's in your blood."

When the Steelers last won the Super Bowl in 2006, thousands of drunken fans celebrated in the streets and several small fires were set.

Pittsburgh police hoped to deter potential mayhem by putting more than 400 officers on patrol, limiting parking and closing some streets to traffic at the start of the fourth quarter in areas with numerous bars and restaurants.

In the Strip District, another popular area with bars and restaurants, several streets were barricaded before the game began.

Pittsburgh schools delayed openings two hours Monday to allow for the celebration, but other schools were following suit after the victory. TV news stations were scrolling school delays for Monday as if it were a snow day.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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