View Photo Gallery: Indianapolis is preparing to host its first Super Bowl game Sunday, but festivities have already begun.

The Circle City, Nap Town, or just Indy has been used for years by Indianapolis natives, but I like the moniker British writer Simon Veness gave us: The City of Dreams.

Indianapolis and I grew up together. I was thirteen when the infamous Mayflower trucks brought the Colts to Indy in 1984. Indy was growing up, too, as the Hoosier Dome indicated. Every Sunday we Colts faithful put on our blue jerseys and cheered for our team, even when losing was the norm. It would, we understood, be worth the wait, and we were so right. In the decades since then, Market Square Arena gave way to a new field house, and the RCA Dome was replaced by the house that Peyton Manning built, Lucas Oil Stadium. At 40, I am filled with pride at this, my city of dreams, which is now the ultimate host of Super Bowl XLVI.

For the last three days I have been downtown. My husband and I took our daughters to Super Bowl Village. It was energizing — the lights, the concerts, the sculptures, and best of all — the people. Monday, my son and I volunteered to help with the Super Baskets of Hope. Typically, these baskets are sent to children in hospitals in the host city, but that’s not Hoosier Hospitality. Indy decided to include patients in children’s hospitals across the nation, so we helped put together 7,000 baskets for children of all ages filled with over 300,000 donated items. While we worked, we were inspired by live music, patients from our own renowned Riley Children’s Hospital, and the likes of Pacer George Hill, Colts Gary Brackett, and adopted Hoosier Tony Dungy.

My Super Bowl experience continued at Media Day. About 7,000 of us sat in the stands, sports radios to our ears tuned into the interviews. It was the first time Media Day was open to the public. While many of the interviews were typical or expected — particularly the focus on Peyton Manning — including the fans made it anything but.

“Tom, would you like to touch my dragon?” Some man in a Borat-inspired outfit asked Tom Brady. “No, keep your dragon to yourself,” Brady laughed. Chuckles all around indicated most of us had our radios tuned into Brady’s interview on channel E6. In response to another question, Brady said, “I don’t know. There’s a lot of Colts jerseys up there,” to which the crowd erupted. “Can you guys hear everything I’m saying?” he asked, and we cheered again.

So, this Super Bowl is different. It’s about the fans, who I hope will understand just what Hoosier Hospitality means over the next few days. As Veness wrote, Indianapolis is “... a city centre bursting at the seams with Super Bowl festivities, activities and atmosphere, with people falling over themselves to be hospitable and enthusiastic and a genuine effervescence we haven’t seen from a host city since Alka Seltzer first went plink, plink fizz... It is convenient, well thought out, engaging and, most of all, fun. It is a throwback event to days when the Super Bowl was first and foremost about the fans ....”

So, welcome NFL fans and enjoy our city — and if you need anything, just ask. We’d love to show you our Hoosier Hospitality.

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