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Alas, no purple in Super Bowl, but blue will do

Crew 52 volunteers Margaret Kolb-Tavis (left) and Leslie Reich of Oakdale pose for a photo Jan. 26 at an informal pep rally at HealthEast Sports Center in Woodbury. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia

They'll brave cold, wind, rain and yes, even those (expletive) Philadelphia Eagles fans.

The 10,000 volunteers of Crew 52 have already cast a blanket of blue over the airports, hotels and streets of Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII.

About 30 volunteers from Cottage Grove, Woodbury and Oakdale attended an informal pep rally Jan. 26 at HealthEast Sports Center. The event was organized by Crew 52 member Darcy Bertram.

"I hope I will meet somebody famous," Margaret Kolb-Tavis of Oakdale said.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity" Kenya Skytte of Woodbury added.

Juliana Simmons of Woodbury started her first shift Jan. 27, at the kickoff of Super Bowl Live, the free concert series on the Nicollet Mall.

"I love being part of a community," said Simmons, who has volunteered for the Winter Carnival and the Ryder Cup. "I just like being at those kinds of events, talking to people, meeting people, helping out where I can."

She has no problem being polite to visitors who are wearing Eagles jerseys, even if their team did end the Vikings' Super Bowl dream. Even if some of them have been known to hurl obscenities and full cans of beer at opposing fans.

"There are some nasty fans out there but this is really Super Bowl and us representing Minnesota," Simmons said. "It really shouldn't matter to us who's playing in the Super Bowl. The likelihood at the beginning of the season that the Vikings would be in the Super Bowl was pretty unlikely. How fun that the Vikings got as far as they did."

Crew 52 members are also trained to spot potential trouble.

"We're trained for safety," Simmons said. "'What do you do with a lost child, what do you do if you see someone you think is being sex trafficked, what do you do if you think you see someone robbing someone?' We're here to help people who are homeless or who are lost," she said.

Joe and Mary Beth Gillis of Woodbury were among the nearly 30,000 hopefuls who applied to be volunteers for the Super Bowl Host Committee.

"It's been 30 years since the last one," Joe Gillis said. "We said, 'It might be that long before the next one here. We just want an opportunity to let people know how nice the state is."

Mary Beth Gillis, a Vikings season ticket holder, was disgusted at the behavior of Eagles fans at the Jan. 21 NFC Conference Championship in Philadelphia. But she said she refuses to stoop to that level of thuggery.

"I love Michelle Obama's quote about, 'When they go low, we go high,'" she said. "That's how I really feel about the situation. It was appalling to see what they (Eagles fans) did. That's not what we're about. We'll treat them just like we treat everybody else."

None of the volunteers will see the inside of U.S. Bank Stadium during the Super Bowl. Volunteers will be through at 3 p.m. Sunday, prior to the kickoff.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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