Fairfax County paving contractor Herbert Poland offered his wife Betty her choice for a winter vacation--two weeks in Hawaii or five days at the Super Bowl. "Hawaii will always be there," was her decision.
So today the Polands and 175 others, many of them fashionably dressed in the colors of the day, Redskins' burgundy and gold, hopped aboard a chartered jetliner and sang and drank their way to rain-drenched southern California.
The group was among the vanguard of 25,000 Washington Redskins fans who are expected to journey westward to attend Sunday's Super Bowl XVII clash with the Miami Dolphins in the Rose Bowl.
Each of the 177 had paid at least $798 to an Ann Arbor, Mich., tour operator for the five-day, four-night junket. It is one of the more expensive packages that tour operators have offered to Redskins fans who have decided that watching the Super Bowl on television would not be good enough.
For the most part, the money was of little concern to the revelers aboard charter flight 5700. Several said they paid for part or all of their passage to Pasadena with the money they won betting on the Redskins last weekend as they defeated their archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
Just how fanatical are the Redskins fans? A walk down the aisle of the United Airlines DC-8 was a lesson in loyalty, hero-worship, and hometown pride.
On most Thursday mornings, when she's not jetting across country to watch her favorite football team, Doris Kinder works as a secretary for the Navy. For the occasion, she wore a full-length burgundy wool skirt with a large Redskin embroidered on the front, a gold blouse, a burgundy leather jacket, and a burgundy velvet headband with a burgundy feather at the back of her golden hair.
"I even have a Joe Theismann doll," she said. "I'm going to carry it to the game. It's brought me good luck this year. I'm so happy I'm going." She said she had left her husband back home.
A friend of Kinder's, Jack Pixley, president of a Reston consulting firm, said that "when John Riggins carries the ball for 10 yards in Sunday's game , we want national television to know Redskins fans are there. We expect to come back hoarse."
For postal inspector Ron Saxby, going to the Super Bowl is the ultimate expression of his devotion to the Redskins.
"I couldn't sleep all week," said the 34-year-old Saxby, a longtime fan who said he goes to Redskins home games, then watches videotape replays three or four times before the next game, and occasionally drives to Redskin Park to sneak a peak at practices through a chain-link fence.
I'm a real fanatic," He allowed. "I want to get caught up in all the hype of the Super Bowl."
Many of the Redskins fans were content to sing an occasional chorus of "Hail to the Redskins" or wear T-shirts boasting of the team's National Football Conference championship victory last Saturday or pledging their allegiance to the Hogs, the prosaic nickname for the team's offensive linemen.
There also was evidence aboard the charter that the appeal of the Redskins extends beyond the District and its immediate suburbs.
Garland Altizer of Covington, Va., made the trip along with his wife, a daughter, a son and a niece. Others came from the Richmond area.
Joann Carroll, 36, of Cumberland, Md., made the trip with her fiance, Don Sensabaugh, a 39-year-old construction contractor and computer company official whom she met at a Redskins game.
"I bet $1,500 on the Redskins over Dallas," Sensabaugh recalled, "and said if they won, we'd go to the Super Bowl. Guess what?"