Most of the 10,000 volunteers for Super Bowl LII joyfully raised their thundersticks and new “Bold North” purple mittens at a pep rally-orientation Sunday for the first collective jolt of excitement they’re expected to provide to visitors during the 10-day event.
The vast majority of the volunteers showed up to the 4 p.m. event at Xcel Energy Center in their Minnesota Vikings purple jerseys, fresh from watching the hometown team’s road win in Washington, D.C.
Recorded music by Prince (“Let’s Go Crazy”) and halftime performer Justin Timberlake (“Bringing Sexy Back”) blasted from speakers on the stage in the bowl of the arena. In one recorded video, the voice-over said to the volunteers, “The time is now. The moment is ours.”
A succession of civic dignitaries, beginning with Gov. Mark Dayton, told the crowd how special Minnesota is and how the volunteers are critical to making this the best Super Bowl ever. Dayton gave two reasons: The Vikings win the game and everyone would work to provide a warm winter welcome to an estimated 1 million visitors.
The big reveal of the evening was the “Crew 52” kit that each volunteer will receive. Layers of warmth include a long-sleeve, half-zip base shirt in blue and purple and a turquoise puffer jacket that zips into a larger parka of a similar color.
Hats and mittens are deep purples. Scarves come in deep rainbow hues. Most pieces have reflective piping or logos to aid after-dark visibility.
A parade of models, volunteers themselves, walked the runway to show off the gear, including Tashonda Williamson of New Brighton, who started her volunteer work months ago because she was selected as a screener for potential crew members.
“It’s been amazing,” said Williamson, a Metro Transit driver. “The whole process has been about showcasing Minnesota pride.”
Volunteers got to see some of the visuals for events, including Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall that will feature free concerts, food trucks and television broadcasts. Volunteers gasped over the images of the walk-in snow globe and the ice-encased NFL jerseys that will be on the street.
Despite star power behind the effort that included corporate CEOs, the crowd saved its standing ovations for Crew 52 “Captain” Chad Greenway, a former Minnesota Viking, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. When he stepped onto the stage, Arradondo told volunteers they will see many police officers on the streets. “Please think of them as your partners,” Arradondo said. “We are all on the same team.”
Another high point for crowd reaction: the recorded appearance of former Minnesota Gophers quarterback turned NFL coach and television analyst Tony Dungy. He appeared on the giant video display.
In the next two months, volunteers will receive training for their specific assignments. The 10,000 were culled from among 30,000 who submitted applications and 14,000 who showed up for interviews.
“You should give yourselves a big round of applause because you are the chosen ones,” Super Bowl Host Committee CEO Maureen Bausch said.
Despite the congested streets outside the arena before and after the event, the volunteers were upbeat. “I want to do this because I’m hoping the Vikings get to the Super Bowl and I want to be part of it,” said Daniel Hanson, a frequent volunteer from Champlin who wore a Vikings hoodie topped with a purple-and-gold Santa hat.
Amy Hilton of Eden Prairie said she wanted to be involved in a big event and isn’t concerned about outdoor duty in (potentially) cold weather.
“No way,” she said. “I love Minnesota.”