‘Crew 52’ vital to Super Bowl festival

At least four local residents make the cut for 10,000 volunteers

BROOKINGS – The annual Super Bowl could arguably be the premier sporting event in the United States: a 60-minute football game that lasts three-plus hours, due to the stop-the-clock nature of the game, half-time entertainment and commercials.

And that’s just the main event itself. Now factor in the two weeks of super hype preceding the Feb. 4 game and what is for Super Bowl LII being billed as a “10-day ‘Super Bowl Live’ fan festival.”

It will bring more than a million visitors to Minnesota demanding the services of 10,000 volunteers – Crew 52 – to make the whole extravaganza a go. 

And four local South Dakotans are grateful for having made the cut: Brookings residents Kim Geffre, Alan Riedel and Jamie Tonjum and Volga resident Terri Sellers.

Many called, few chosen

A winnowing of more than 30,000 volunteers got the number of selectees down to 10,000.

Of the total volunteers chosen, about 90 percent are from Minnesota, with the remainder coming from 42 other states and a few from out of the country.

While other South Dakotans are part of the mix, another interesting fact is that Crew 52 Captain Chad Greenway, a former Vikings linebacker, hails from Mount Vernon.

Earlier this week, the fortunate four locals talked with the Register about the upcoming experience, which has already begun with their having attended All-Crew Volunteer Orientation on Nov. 12 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“I was looking for some volunteer opportunities and knowing the Super Bowl was here, so close, it was just ideal,” said Sellers, a Minnesota native who retired in February.  

“First of all, I thought it would be a lot of fun,” Geffre said. “And it’s a great way to meet a lot of different people. I’m one person who tries to make people happy. That’s my goal in life, to try to make people happy.” 

She sees Crew 52 as good way to do that. Add to that the fact that she’s a died-in-the-wool Vikings fan. 

But not all the four locals are. Wearing a Broncos cap, Riedel, originally from Denver, was evidence of that. 

“I’m a huge Broncos fan,” he said with a smile. “I’m not a Minnesota Vikings fan. That’s the biggest issue with this whole deal; everybody’s purple, everybody’s Vikings.

“But it’s all good fun. It’s more about the game and the process than what you’re a fan of. I myself love football; I could watch it anywhere.”

Additionally, Reidel can personally relate to the game. He does radio play-by-play of Sioux Valley Cossacks games.

“I live football; being part of anything football is awesome,” he said. He has seen a couple Vikings versus Broncos games and a couple Vikings vs. Chicago Bears, because his wife is “a big Bears fan.”

Geffre and Sellers admit to being avid Vikings fans. Tonjum “enjoys football in general” and owns one Vikings shirt; her husband, Matt, is a dedicated Vikings fan.

The four smiled and laughed as they talked about their interview experiences. Geffre was asked about past volunteer work she had done and if she “had problems standing outside in the cold.” (“Not if I’m dressed properly.”)

The four were excited about the one-of-a-kind, good quality uniforms designed by Target that each will be issued. They’re part of the “Volunteer Uniform Kit” that each of the 10,000 selectees will receive for the event.

The 10,000 volunteers will be the only ones to get them, so they become collectors items of a sort. The inventory includes: purple long-sleeved polo shirt, blue quarter-zip sweater fleece, turquoise lightweight puffer jacket, blue shell jacket, scarf, multicolor novelty socks, Crew 52 Volunteer backpack, purple “Bold North” mittens, Crew 52 “Love Your Melon” beanie, and travel mug.

Be Minnesota Nice

In January, the volunteers will receive specific training on their duties that, Sellers said, would include: kindness, courtesy and expectations; safety and security; human trafficking identification and reporting; getting around; and maps.

At the orientation, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo spoke to the volunteers about their role in promoting public safety during the 10-day spectacle. His department is the lead law enforcement agency for the events. He and his officers will work closely with local, state and federal agencies on security and safety plans. The chief told them that several Minnesota towns would be augmenting his force.

A variety of jobs are available and volunteers could list three choices; the local four cited: “Minnesota Live” and Mall of America, hospitality, the seven miles of Skyways system downtown, and “Super Bowl Live.”

Over the 10 days of the festival, the volunteers will work a minimum of three days in shifts of four to six hours.

Whatever their specific assignments, which they’ll get via email by early December, the 10,000 volunteers will be ambassadors of Minnesota, with their charge to “Be Minnesota Nice.”

Geffre, Sellers, Riedel and Tonjum will add to that – “Be Midwest Nice.”

Lindsey Young, assistant editor and staff writer, Minnesota Vikings Football, contributed to this report.

Contact John Kubal at [email protected]

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