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THIS BLACKOUT OF BIG GAME WAS FOR REAL

For football fans, it couldn't have happened at a worse time.

A power outage that began at 6:40 p.m. Sunday plunged much of Depew and part of Lancaster into darkness until it was restored at about 9 p.m. An estimated 3,000 customers were affected, a New York State Electric & Gas Corp. spokesman said.

"There's never a good time for a power outage, but this was especially unfortunate, Daniel Tillman, regional customer service manager, said.

A faulty insulator near a switch triggered the outage, which, of course, hit during the first quarter of the Super Bowl.

You might think football fans would have headed for the exits when television screens went dark, but not so in the Elbow Room tavern on Transit Road.

"We got a generator to get the TVs going and got flashlights and candles and had a party, said Jonathon Francis, bar manager and son of the owner, said. "Not many people left.

He said people inside could hear the transformer "pop and saw sparks, so they knew something was wrong.

Needless to say, there were more than a few moans and groans and other expressions of displeasure, Francis said.

"But we found a radio to listen to the game until the generator got hooked up. People were in a party mood and didn't want to leave.

The promise of a free buffet at halftime might also have been a factor, he agreed.

And, thankfully, the power was back on before the beer got too warm.

Tillman said he expects plenty of complaints when he gets to work today but pointed out that equipment failures are impossible to prevent completely, regardless of how good the maintenance program is.

And NYSEG employees,including himself, were called away from the game to respond to the problem.

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