Minutes after Bengals kicker Evan McPherson booted the game-winning field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs, earning the team the AFC Championship and its first trip to the Super Bowl in 34 years, Karen Roseman-Harris’ phone began ringing off the hook.
Phone calls and text messages were pouring in from excited Bengals fans wanting to know about travel arrangements for the Super Bowl. For more than 35 years, Roseman-Harris, of Forest Park, or “Ms. K” to her friends, has been organizing road trips to Bengals games.
She and a friend, Marsha Watts, started back in the mid-1980s by taking a busload of rabid Bengals fans to Cleveland every year for the Battle of Ohio. Over time, one bus trip became two, then three, and now Roseman-Harris is organizing as many as four out-of-town excursions each year to Bengals games.
She estimates she’s put together trips to more than 100 Bengals away games, including trips to London, Buffalo, Green Bay, Dallas, Las Vegas and Arizona to name just a few. She even sat next to and chatted with Nancy Brown, the wife of Bengals owner Mike Brown, on a bus trip to Buffalo in 2015.
“Within three hours of the AFC Championship game, I received over 95 phone calls and texts asking for information about the Super Bowl,” said Roseman-Harris, owner of Travel by Karen. “I’ve been working nonstop ever since.”
And that’s not hyperbole. Roseman-Harris was going out of town for an all-girls vacation in Cancun a few days after the AFC Championship game, but admits she spent more time booking trips to the Super Bowl than she did on the beach. In fact, as of Thursday, Roseman-Harris still hadn’t secured her own tickets to the big game in Los Angeles.
“I just want to get our fans out there,” she said. “I’ve been sleeping an average of four hours a night. I want to get as many to the Super Bowl as I can.”
Organizing the road trips is a labor of love, said her daughter-in-law Susan Janelle Roseman.
“She takes people to the games because she is excited about the team, and she wants people to share in the excitement,” Susan Roseman said. “There are times when someone might not have the money to go and she is still trying to make sure they have a way.”
Sometimes that means digging in her own pocket to make it happen. Roseman-Harris organized a bus trip to Nashville for the Bengals’ AFC Divisional game against the top-seeded Tennessee Titans. The 40 people on board the bus each had to pay $299 for the ride, game tickets and lodging. But after the Bengals upset win, their first-ever on the road in the playoffs, something came over her.
“I was just so excited. I don’t know what came over me,” Roseman-Harris recalled. “I stood up at the front of the bus and I told everybody that this trip was one me. If they had already paid, they’d get a full refund and if they still had an outstanding balance, consider it settled.”
Do the math; that’s almost $12,000. And one heck of a victory celebration.
I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with Ms. K a bunch of times over the years. The Bengals-Browns trips were an annual affair for me and my wife. We’ve also traveled with her to London and Green Bay and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it each time.
You’re not just getting a ride when you travel with Ms. K. It’s more like a party on wheels (or wings if you go by air). She provides an assortment of food and drinks and there are gift raffles, Bengals trivia (which I almost always win) and plenty of music and fun. Her daughter-in-law described it like “showing up at a tailgate party without having to bring a dish.”
Then there are the cheers. Before departing to each destination, Ms. K stands in front of everyone to teach them cheers the group will sing win the Bengals win – and Ms. K always expects the Bengals to win. These are time-honored tunes passed down to her from her grandmother.
One goes like this (sung to the tune of the African American spiritual “Wade in the Water”:
“Go to the shower, go to the shower, Rams
Go to the shower, the Bengals done turned on the water.”
A second cheer sounds like this:
“Awww shoot! It’s getting hot in here. It must be a Bengal in the atmosphere”
Karen Roseman-Harris cheers on Bengals
Karen Roseman-Harris of Forest Park has been organizing trips to Bengals away games for more than 35 years.
As many of us who frequently travel with her say, “Ain’t no party like a Ms. K party, ’cause a Ms. K party don’t stop!”
“They mean the world to me,” Roseman-Harris said of the trips.
Or perhaps she was referring to the Bengals. Roseman-Harris considers herself the Bengals’ No. 1 fan, a love affair that started as a tomboy watching Bengals games with her parents, John and Agnes, at their home in Avondale. She even once tried out to be a Ben-Gals cheerleader in her 20s, but bowed out before the final selections.
“I’m not sure why I never followed through. I guess I got cold feet,” she said.
Roseman-Harris developed a love for travel from her mother, who was part of a women’s traveling club that only took trips by bus. She said her first trip with her mother’s group was to the Million Women March.
To honor her mother-in-law, Susan Roseman wrote a letter to the Bengals prior to the AFC Championship game requesting they give her one of the game balls should the team win. In addition to booking trips, Roseman-Harris is co-owner of Gametime Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill in Mt. Healthy. Susan Roseman told the Bengals she felt it was important for the team to recognize Black-owned establishments and be intentionally inclusive.
The Bengals responded by sending head coach Zac Taylor to Gametime with a game ball immediately after the team returned from Kansas City.
“We got the first out of five game balls they were giving away for that game,” Susan Roseman said. “It was surreal when we got the phone call that Zac was coming straight from Kansas to the bar. It made us feel a part of the team, the energy and the movement that is infecting the entire city and much of the country.”
And Taylor didn’t just deliver the ball and leave. He stuck around to take pictures with every patron who wanted one.
“He was so graceful, approachable and attentive to the fanbase who was in the bar that evening,” she said. “You write a letter and you hope that it matters to someone and that they are even going to read it. The Bengals considered my letter and acted on it. It made us feel connected and made us want to continue to be supportive of the franchise.”
At 65 years old, one might wonder how long Ms. K intends to keep organizing Bengals trips.
“I just enjoy sharing the love with the fans who just want to be there supporting the Bengals and rooting them on to wins,” she said. “I want to do this as long as my wheels keep rolling.”
And when they do, Susan Roseman said Ms. K is already grooming the next generation to take the wheel, so she can just sit back and ride with her husband Cecil.
As for Sunday’s big game, Roseman-Harris still hopes to make it inside SoFi Stadium to see the game. But if not, she’ll be next to other Bengals fans she helped get out to L.A. at a restaurant in the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel watching the game on 50 TV screens. And of course, she expects the Bengals to win.
“Never doubted it for a minute,” she said. “The Bengals are going to win 34-31, and when they do, I’ll be there to say I told you so.”
Opinion and Engagement Editor Kevin S. Aldridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @kevaldrid.