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Big Stone Gap prepares to cheer on hometown hero Thomas Jones in Super Bowl

January 28th, 2007 7:51 pm by STEPHEN IGO

BIG STONE GAP - Folks in one of the most charming, laid-back little towns in all of Virginia are preparing to get down, get wild and get it on by staging the biggest little Super Bowl party nowhere near the National Football League's fabled championship game - clear down in sunny Miami - when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around on Feb. 4.

Big Stone Gap is planning to celebrate the Super Bowl, but most especially one of its hometown gridiron heroes, with townwide festivities. Three separate events are planned on Super Bowl Sunday, and local businesses and residents are being encouraged to decorate in Chicago Bears colors.

Not that Big Stone Gap wishes ill of the Indianapolis Colts or anything, but hometown football phenom Thomas Jones is the starting tailback for the Bears.

"Thomas always had a dream of playing in the NFL. He made that dream his goal, he worked for it, and he earned it," Big Stone Gap Mayor Barbara Orndorff said Friday. "This is a fine example of how someone from a very small town can achieve their dreams and goals."

Jones played his high school football at Powell Valley High School, a legendary Vikings running back who literally sprinted to a smashing string of Virginia High School League Single-A state championships for his teams, his school and his town. Jones' encore to a stellar high school athletic career was to perform as a marquee tailback at the University of Virginia before making his mark in the NFL.

The Goodloe Center at Mountain Empire Community College will host the town's Super Bowl Sunday community event beginning at 4 p.m. at a very reasonable entry fee. The price of admission is one canned food item that will be donated to the local food bank. Try getting a Super Bowl ticket for that.

Food concessions will be provided by the Big Stone Gap Little League. The party goes until game time.

Two other events are church-sponsored, youth-oriented celebrations. The Cave, a Norton church ministered by Pastor Jimmy Mitchell, will stage Super Bowl proceedings for young people at the Powell Valley High School gymnasium. Bended Knee Ministries, the youth group at East Stone Gap United Methodist Church, will anchor the Super Bowl soiree at Town Hall's Carnes Gymnasium.

All area residents are invited to share the occasion and root for Thomas Jones, his family, and his team, the mayor said. Jones' parents, Thomas Jones Sr. and Betty Jones, reside in the Powell Valley just outside of town.

Orndorff just laughed when asked if Jones' parents might appear at the Goodloe Center bash. The mayor figures mom and dad might have had some major league insider pull to get some really good Super Bowl tickets.

Orndorff said what she would like to see Jones do on Super Bowl Sunday is simply more of what he has proven he is capable of doing when toting a football.

"MVP (most valuable player), of course," Orndorff said. "There is only one thing that could make it better, and that's for Thomas and Julius to both be playing in the Super Bowl."

Thomas' brother, Julius Jones, plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

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