Keith Olson had exhilarating ‘Crew 52’ Super Bowl experience
Volunteering by definition is the giving of your time or effort for a cause with the expectation of no compensation. This was not the case during the celebration in Minneapolis leading up to the 52nd Superbowl.
I looked at this opportunity to volunteer as a way of giving back for all those who volunteered at events in which I participated. In 2017, I competed in 47 races including 7 marathons. Each of the races takes place only because of volunteers. Some of the local small 5Ks only have 5 volunteers while the New York and Chicago Marathons had well over 12,000 for their events. I was chosen to be one of 10,000 people who were responsible to make the events leading up to the February 4 Super Bowl game a fun and safe experience.
It started when I saw on Social Media that the opportunity was coming and a window to apply would open in May. I signed up and filled out a questionnaire complete with inquiries about qualifications, my motivation to participate and any special skills I have that could be used when dealing with such large numbers of people. I also ranked the areas I would like to serve in, whether it was skyway, Mall of America, Airport, Crew 52 headquarters or outside on Nicollet Mall at Super Bowl Live. I was notified in July that I made the first cut of the 30,000 that applied and signed up for an interview in late August so they could further trim the number to 10,000. During the interview, they asked many of the same questions that were on the initial application. When my Interviewer got to the point about what location I wanted to help, I stated “outside.” Then he asked, “Mr. Olson, do you think you are physically able to be on your feet for 4 - 5 hours straight during that assignment?” My answer was “Sir, I can RUN for that period of time.”
I was chosen on October 12 and needed to show up for the first orientation on November 12 at the Excel Energy Center. During that orientation, all 10,000 of us listened to speakers such as Chad Greenway (Former Viking #52), Governor Dayton, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and others. Each of them told us how important our interaction with the estimated 1 million visitors to the Super Bowl was to their cities and to our state. They mentioned we would also be more eyes and ears looking for suspicious activity such as terrorism and sex trafficking. But our main goal was to ensure the visitors had fun while they were here.
I returned in early January to study the layout of Nicollet Avenue and the general downtown area. I wanted to be able to tell people where certain landmarks were and directions to some of the major attractions. Being from out of town, I needed a little more time to study.
All Super Bowl Live Volunteers had site specific training prior to their first shifts. I took my training on January 20 and received my official credentials. These credentials also allowed us to go to any attraction without being searched further.
My first shift as a Crew 52 member started Saturday, January 27, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. I paired up with another member, Jill from Lakeville, and we took family pictures with their cameras in front of the large ice sculpture of the Viking horn. It was fun and we took hundreds of pictures of mostly Minnesotans enjoying themselves.
I looked at the Crew 52 internet portal on Saturday evening and found they were short 31 members for Sunday morning from 8:00 until 1:00. I applied and was notified to show up at headquarters at 8:00 Sunday morning. When I arrived, I found that all Super Bowl Live Volunteers that morning were going to help with the zipline over the Mississippi. Twelve of us were dropped at the exit end of the zipline and helped people get out of their harness and get them back to the Polaris ATV that would bring them back to Nicollet Mall. We had an energetic crew and the time went by very quickly. It was a good assignment.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.