When tens of thousands of people descend upon Minnesota leading up to Super Bowl LII, there will be plenty of volunteers to help them navigate the Twin Cities.
The Super Bowl — featuring the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles — is the primary event, but numerous other activities will be offered over the course of a 10-day period. To handle the throng of visitors, about 10,000 volunteers are donating their time.
Among the Crew 52, as the volunteers are being called (this is the 52nd Super Bowl), are about 100 from the Rochester area who work at Mayo Clinic. About half of the Mayo crew gathered recently for a group photo, and they were decked out in some of winter wear they received for volunteering.
"It's some very nice stuff," said Jill Hagedorn, one of the volunteers from Mayo.
The "gift package" includes a winter coat with a liner that pulls out, scarf, stocking cap, polo shirt, socks, coffee mug and a backpack. The multi colors used in the apparel represent the Northern Lights. Most of the gear was supplied by Minnesota-based Target.
The volunteers will wear the gear on their shifts during Super Bowl week. More than 30,000 people from around the world applied to be volunteers for the event. Of those, 15,000 were interviewed, 12,000 were approved and 10,000 were selected to work.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and at a brand new stadium," Hagedorn said.
Each of the volunteers had to commit to a minimum of three shifts, which usually range from four to five hours. Volunteers are needed at the Mall of America, the airport, throughout a number of sky way systems and all over the Super Bowl Live experience in downtown Minneapolis.
Volunteers will mostly help visitors with any questions they have or help them with directions. But they will help with crowd control and be on the lookout for bad behavior. Not all of the workers looking out for bad behavior will be volunteers. Extra law enforcement personnel are being brought in from outside the Twin Cities, from as far south as Rochester and as far north as Ely.
"Security everywhere will be tight," said Tom West, the director of public relations for the Minnesota Vikings.
All of the volunteers had to pass a background check to get hired. Once hired they had to undergo training prior to working.
"I wanted to do something for the state," Mari Jordan said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to show the whole world what type of people we are."
Jordan will work in the Super Bowl Live area. She was born in St. Paul and served in the Navy for 24 years. She now resides in LeRoy and works at the Mayo Clinic. She has never been to a Super Bowl, but attended the Pro Bowl when she lived in Hawaii.
"I'm really looking forward to this experience," she said.
Brandi Rogers is like a lot of Mayo employees; she is a transplant from another part of the country. Rogers came from Georgia three years ago to work at the Mayo Clinic. She was more than happy to sign on as a Super Bowl volunteer.
"Just for the experience, it should be fun," Rogers said. "You won't have the chance to do this again, so I'm super excited."
Rogers' parents have also moved from Georgia to Minnesota and they reside in the Twin Cities. She said she will stay with them during her volunteer service, which is in the Super Bowl Live experience, so she won't have to commute.
Despite volunteering for the event, almost none of the workers will actually be inside U.S. Bank Stadium to witness the game live. Not that they seem to mind one bit.
"Just the fact that I'm part of the action, I kind of feel like I'm there," Rogers said. "And besides, I get to watch it on TV."