I have to be totally honest in telling you, the Super Bowl whipped me out, and I didn’t even play in the game! Seriously, ya’ll! I am just now regrouping from all of the recipes, and cocktails, and volunteering, but it was an experience of a lifetime and I don’t regret one minute of it. What began as a fun idea to apply for the chance of working the Super Bowl after finding out that it would be in my city, Houston, snowballed into a really cool memory that I am certain my kids will think is super cool of me. Here’s a little photo recap of what went down.
After applying to be a volunteer worker for Super Bowl LI in Houston, I was asked to come to a face-to-face interview at the volunteer headquarters right in the heart of downtown Houston. After nearly turning around and going back home after trying to find where to park, I finally made it #downtownhoustonproblems! The facility was beautiful with many Super Bowl relics from games past.
10,000 volunteers were selected after the interviews and a background check and were invited to attend an orientation at the Toyota Center. Everyone was asked to wear red which was pretty cool to see so much red in solidarity! I thought the purpose of this orientation would be the chance for the powers that be to tell us what our assignments for the big game would be. Instead it ended up being a glorified pep rally that I could have done without…again…with the parking, again with the #downtownhoustonproblems!
Around November I finally received notification of what my volunteer position would be: Downtown Hospitality Houses. Your guess was as good as mine as to what that was, but my feeling was that it was something super cool, or something super lame. At that time they wanted us to accept or reject our positions. In an effort to completely know what I was getting myself into, I emailed the host committee asking if I could get more detail. Of course they emailed me back with a cryptic response which made me think that maybe this position was something top secret with a bunch of celebrities and they couldn’t divulge all the info. So of course I accepted! In January we had to go pick up our uniforms which were pretty sticking sweet! I thought all the volunteers looked really great and the host committee really hooked us up with collared shirts, a zip up athletic wind breaker, a jacket, a backpack, a hat, and a water bottle. I may not have known what I was doing, but I knew I would look good doing it! A few days before my first shift I received a briefing which outlined in bullet points some of the duties and responsibilities of a hospitality house volunteer. Some of which included: radioing when a celebrity has arrived, checking VIP passes and credentials at entry points, directing celebrities to designated areas, etc. JACKPOT!
My first day of volunteering was a whole week before the Super Bowl. The festivities in Houston began 12 days before the game. I figured I wouldn’t be meeting any celebs on my first day because what celeb is going to be in Houston a whole week before the main event?! At this point I was just hoping that my post was inside because the evening was poised to be cold and windy. We were given free parking and all the volunteers had to meet at the volunteer center and walk as a group to their post. I arrived at the center on time and met my group of other hospitality housers and they were all equally as eager to know where our assignment was. We trekked about 5 blocks and landed at a restaurant right in the middle of Discovery Green Park (a huge park in downtown Houston). After going through a couple of security checks we met with our team leader who briefed us on what we would be doing…finally! Our role was to smile, welcome guests, offer to get them anything they might need from the bar, and show the guest what Texas hospitality is all about. The guest list included media and sponsors of the Super Bowl and our group leader quickly let us know that we were not allowed to take pictures of or with celebrities if we encountered any.
There was no need to tell us what the proper “celebrity meeting” protocol was because that night, there were none. I did meet a lot of great volunteers though and had a great time ki-king with them. So much so that it made me excited to work my next two shifts. The night was a long 6-hours on my feet schmoozing V.I.P. corporate sponsors and jamming out to the the eccentric DJ but no Bruno Mars sighting just yet.
My next night to work was the Friday before the Super Bowl which I was pretty stoked about because I was sure I was going to meet some famous peeps. For some reason I got it in my head that I would be swapping stories with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. This time I was stationed at the hospitality house in the Hess Tower. This beautiful building looked onto all of downtown and my location was on the top floor. As before our group was briefed before entering our post. Our group leader explained that there was a corporate party the first half of the evening for the employees of Hess (a huge oil company headquartered in Houston). The second portion of the night would be a party for the Super Bowl Host Committee (the higher-ups that were responsible for bringing the Super Bowl to Houston). For both events we were to smile, greet, and ask anyone one if they needed any thing. My group leader asked me specifically to open the door for people as they walked in. I am not going to lie ya’ll, I was pretty disappointed. From my dreams of being on the Super Bowl field swaying to Gaga with a lit orb, to opening the door for big-wigs was quite a jump! Although I was disappointed in my post, I was thankful for the door spot because the alternative was bussing tables. I saw my other red jacket brothers and sisters picking up after guests and carrying trays of dishes to the kitchen and I immediately was grateful to smile and open doors. The general consensus was that this was not what we thought we were getting into when were were briefed.
A few days before my last shift which was Super Bowl Sunday from 10AM-4PM, I got an email from the host committee explaining that the Hospitality House would not be in existence on that day. They offered for me to go work Super Bowl Live instead to which I declined. I felt that I had my fill of the Super Bowl and I was looking forward to not being amongst the chaos if I didn’t have to be. My Super Bowl Sunday was spent in the quiet of my home with Cameron and Cami eating sliders and drinking hot tea and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!