Super Bowl LII is bringing more than football to the Twin Cities area.
More than 30 charitable activities and community outreach events enrich the community and provide lasting legacies starting Friday as the Minneapolis-St. Paul area prepares to host the most watched game of the football season.
And it'll take a small army of volunteers to make those events a reality.
Crew 52 is expected to welcome millions of visitors to Minneapolis for events leading up to the Super Bowl, said Jill Harnstrom of Superior, one of the 10,000 volunteers selected to help the Twin Cities show Minnesota's hospitality.
Harnstrom said she was among those selected from nearly 30,000 applicants to help with festivities leading up to the big game Feb 4, when the New England Patriots faces off against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It was kind of heartbreaking; my team was one game away," Harnstrom said of the Vikings loss during the NFC Championship game last weekend. The Vikings made it to the playoffs with a 13-3 record, but lost Sunday night to Philadelphia Eagles.
But Harnstrom said she never imagined last February when she applied to be a volunteer that the team would be in Super Bowl 52, which is being played Feb. 4 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
"I lost my partner a year ago in October. So I wanted to have something to look forward to," Harnstrom said. So even before the football season started, she put in her application.
In August, Harnstrom did a phone interview for the volunteer position as she was beginning a new treatment plan.
"I have cancer, too. I have leukemia," Harnstrom said. "I don't know if I'll be here when the next one comes so it was just to be a part of something that big and just to have something to look forward to in life."
The last time the Super Bowl was played in Minneapolis was 1992, 26 years ago.
Harnstrom learned that she was chosen Oct. 10 — her birthday.
In November, Harnstrom was invited to attend orientation at the Xcel Energy Center, which was attended by Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
"It was just like a big pep rally," Harnstrom said.
Then last week, she got her "swag" — gear in blue and purple to represent the northern lights to keep her warm while volunteering during the outdoor festival sponsored by Verizon, Super Bowl Live, and her job-specific training.
Monday through Wednesday she will be joining a team of two to four to provide information and direction to the variety of free, family-oriented events that make up Super Bowl Live. As part of her responsibilities, she will be watching for anything suspicious to notify police. With so many people expected, she said security is a priority.
The first night she is there, Harnstrom said there will be a Prince tribute concert.
Harnstrom said millions of people are expected in the Twin Cities area in the days leading up to the Super Bowl representing about 33 languages, 130 countries, and 5,000 media outlets.
Harnstrom isn't the only Superior resident heading to the Cities to volunteer as a member of Crew 52. Cindy Michalski of Superior contacted the Telegram by a Facebook message, posting a photo of herself in her volunteer gear.
"Excitement was high at Super Bowl Training yesterday in Minneapolis," Michalski wrote Jan. 15, the day after the Minnesota Vikings score a touchdown with just seconds left on the clock to secure a spot in the NFC championship. "We had the game on during our training. Crew 52 is ready to go. I'm excited to be part of it! Bold north!"
Efforts to reach Michalski were unsuccessful.
The 10-day outdoor festival kicks off at 4 p.m. today and features free concerts and family-friendly events near the Nicollet Mall.
Harnstrom said there will also be a zip line that runs over the Mississippi River.
For more information on non-ticketed programs and activities, visit mnsuperbowl.com/sblive.
In addition to the free events, fans can head to the Minneapolis Convention Center starting Saturday for the Super Bowl Experience Driven by Genesis, ticketed events to get sports fans involved in the runup to the championship game.
The Super Bowl Experience runs Jan. 27-29 and Jan. 31-Feb. 3. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and an app offers information and a complete schedule of events for the Super Bowl Experience, available at SuperBowl.com or at the app store. Download the Super Bowl LII Minnesota—Fan Mobile Pass app.
The Super Bowl Experience includes a display of 130 artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including items from greats like Bud Grant, Alan Page, Cris Carter, Brett Favre, Vince Lombardi, Curly Lambeau, Bart Starr and Reggie White.
For more information, contact Dan Kitchen at (860) 543-2538 or DanK@bzapr.com.