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Originally published January 31, 2014 at 6:47 PM | Page modified January 31, 2014 at 10:51 PM

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12th Man flag tours NYC, pumping up fans in town

A 12th Man flag that flew over the Space Needle is making its way to Sunday’s Super Bowl, with stops beneath the Statue of Liberty, in Times Square and Yankee Stadium. And Seahawks fans are everywhere it goes.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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NEW YORK – If a big blue piece of heavy nylon can help win a football game, the one unfurled below the Statue of Liberty on Friday afternoon should be up to the task.

That’s because this flag, which just two days earlier had been flying over the Space Needle, bears not only the No. 12, but the signatures of thousands of Seahawks fans, sending best wishes to their team in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII.

“We’re Seahawks freaks,” said Kyle Smith of Tacoma, who was helping display the 12th Man flag on Liberty Island on a picture-postcard day, with temperatures into the 40s — a sharp contrast to readings in the teens earlier in the week.

Smith, 64, and his father — still alive and in his 90s — attended the Seahawks’ first game in 1976, and the family has been solid Seahawks fans ever since, seeing the team through some tough years, and now with an opportunity to claim the sport’s ultimate prize. Smith’s daughter, Libby, 30, is accompanying him on the Super Bowl trip.

The 12th Man flag, 25 feet by 35 feet, is to be presented to the Seahawks on Saturday, and will be taken to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for Sunday’s game with the Denver Broncos.

“We’re trying to give the team an extra little lift,” said Sean Marshall, public-relations director for the Space Needle, coordinating the event. “We’re carrying the pride of the city and the spirit of the 12s.”

Before taking the boat ride to Liberty Island, the flag made several other Big Apple stops, including Times Square, at Yankee Stadium and at NBC studios, where it was featured on the “Today Show.”

The flag flew briefly above the Space Needle on Wednesday before it was taken down for a Seahawks fan rally (another went up in its place).

Marshall said Mayor Ed Murray was the first to sign the flag, which then collected 2,000 signatures in about three hours. And it has collected more at each stop.

Marshall said arrangements are being made for where the flag will be at MetLife Stadium, but he couldn’t yet discuss the specifics.

Dave and Judy Bender of Puyallup, Seahawks season-ticket holders for three years, were on Liberty Island when the flag arrived.

“The Seahawks really make their fans a part of the team,” Judy Bender said.

The flag’s travels around Manhattan came on a day when visitors from the Seattle area fanned out to take in the sights. Blue jerseys were evident at the Empire State Building, in Central Park and up and down “Super Bowl Boulevard,” a mile-long section of Broadway with activities related to the Super Bowl.

Many visitors also made their way down to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, near Manhattan’s southern tip, for a pilgrimage of sorts.

“It’s breathtaking,” said Michelle Schuler, owner of Pub 85 in Kirkland. She said the reflecting pools created “almost a place of serenity” combined with displays listing the names of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Schuler is accompanied on the trip by a bartender at her club, Jason Ruch.

The somber mood at the memorial was in sharp contrast to the party atmosphere blossoming in many parts of town.

Ruch said visiting the site was “a bucket-list thing, and something you do out of respect. This is history.”

Jack Broom: or 206-464-2222

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