Posts Tagged ‘Pro-Bowl’

Super Bowl – Day 8: Pro-Bowl Game Day

February 1, 2010
Casey Henry

Casey Henry

The rain that we fervently hoped would not come down yesterday is coming down today. That’s okay though. It didn’t rain on the Pro-Bowl. It can rain as much as it wants this week and get it out of its system so that we have a dry Super Bowl as well.

Yesterday couldn’t have gone better. We and our volunteers parked at a local high school. Holly, Bryan, and I got there two hours before our volunteer call time, but one of the vols beat us there anyway. All but one of our people showed up and we all donned bright orange shirts, which were ugly but great for keeping up with everyone and spotting them in the crowd. Next week’s black crew shirts are not nearly so useful in that respect.

Holly and I had not planned on wearing one of the orange shirts, but we foolishly believed the weather forecast when it said it was going to be warm. Sitting outside for three hours checking people in clearly demonstrated that my t-shirt and jacket combo was not going to cut it. So the orange shirt went on.

picture of volunteers on bus

Our lovely orange-shirted stage crew volunteers on the bus, heading to the stadium.

We had two separate crews working the pre-game show. The audio volunteers, who worked with the sound company and moved the speaker carts on and off the field, and the stage crew, who moved the stage (which was in three pieces) and the team entrance arches.

When our busses unloaded at the stadium we walked the volunteers through security (a pat-down and bag check with one line for boys and one line for girls) and to the show compound. After a relatively short time standing around we relocated to the tunnel in the stadium, where we spent another relatively short time standing around. The first stage move was to the sidelines where we stood and watched the players warm up on the field while it started to drizzle. We speculated about who would be the first to break out the “emergency pancho” that we gave to each person upon check-in. As it turned out it was our very own Bryan, but everyone else was not far behind.

While on the sidelines we also handed out ear plugs, because the aforementioned speaker cards are so freakin loud. Those of us with walkie-talkies were wearing big mouse-ear-type headsets that block out a lot of the sound, but I ended up wearing earplugs as well because I’m kind of fanatical about protecting my hearing.

The player warm-ups took a long time, so we brought the vols back into the tunnel for a water/pee break and so they wouldn’t get any damper than strictly necessary. We walked back to the sidelines about three minutes before the players came off the field, untarped the drum set that had been sitting on the cart the whole time, and got ready to move.

picture of stage on field

Volunteers (see how the orange shirts stand out!) setting the stage on the field.

When the word came we quickly rolled the three stages out and set them on the field, connecting the necessary cables and velcroing decorative cloth onto the sides. I had never heard of the band who was performing and singing the anthem—Honor Society. We stood on the sidelines through the two non-televised songs, the televised team entrances and the anthem. I’m always a little on edge when I’m on the sidelines, worried that someone security person is going to ask me to move, even though I’m supposed to be there.

At one point, once the players came to their bench area, Bryan had to go retrieve some of the opportunistic vols who wandered over there to shake and get autographs. Not cool. They’re supposed to be working, not schmoozing.

As soon as the anthem finished, we struck the stage (took it apart), rolled it off the field and parked it back in the tunnel. We took the volunteers directly to the exit, walked a long way back to our busses, and were driven back to where we parked. We arrived at the hotel before the second half, for beer and food in the bar.

All of us are extremely glad to have Pro-Bowl over with so we only have to think about one show. Bryan and Holly and I are glad to have one day without having to check in volunteers, a soggy day though it will be.

Picture of arch leaving the field.

As soon as the team entrances finished, we made a 100-yard dash across the field with the arches to get them out of the way before the National Anthem started.

picture of arch leaving the field.

The other arch, making a mad (but controlled) dash for the exit.

Super Bowl – Day 7: Pro-Bowl Dress Rehearsal

January 31, 2010
Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Today for the first time, after being here for a week, I made it down to the beach. We don’t have to leave until noon today, so I went to take a walk. There’s a boardwalk (brickwalk? It is certainly not made out of boards…) right next to the beach and I couldn’t figure out why everyone was walking/running/biking on that instead of the beach…until I started walking on the beach and realized that no matter where you walk you always sink down into the sand. There is no hard packed sand like I’m used to on beaches further north on the coast, not even right next to the water. I gave my calves a workout for about ten minutes before I got tired of it and joined the crowd on the boardwalk.

picture of durians

New fruit discovery: durians.

I hadn’t brought any money with me, so when I ran across Josh’s Organic Produce Market, right on the beach, I had to make a trip back to my hotel room to get my wallet. I stocked up on local oranges, some nuts, and dried mango. I also stopped in at their organic juice bar where I had some fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice and tried an entirely new fruit for me: durian. It’s from Thailand and next time I’m there (at the juice bar, not in Thailand!) I might try one of the smoothies made with it. It was creamy, a little bit fibrous, slightly sweet.

But enough about food. Yesterday we had the Pro-Bowl pre-game dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsals in general entail a lot of standing around for everyone. This is especially true for our volunteers. We use a small crew, about eighty people total, to move stages, speakers, and set pieces on and off the field at the appropriate times. Pre-game shows can only vary so much. You always have the same elements: team entrances, national anthem, maybe some other song. And all this is decorated up with lights and fireworks and cheerleaders and flags in various combinations.

Volunteers get antsy when they’re standing around a long time, especially when there is stuff going on and they can’t see it. I was waiting with a group inside one of the stadium tunnels for about an hour before they pushed a stage out onto the sidelines and they wanted to walk out of the tunnel so they could see. We really need them to stay right by the stage because we often don’t get much notice when it’s time to move it and we can’t be running around trying to track down volunteers. Once they’re out in the stadium and can see the rehearsals, they’re usually OK. We have them wait in the stands until we’re ready for them, and sitting waiting is always preferable to standing waiting.

But it still is wearing. Practice started at 2:00 and didn’t wrap up ‘til 7:00. That’s a long time to hang around to move a stage three times—maybe 30 minutes of work and 4 ½ hours of waiting. But it is essential work, and that’s why we’re so thankful that our volunteers are willing to give us so much time and dedication.

Today is game day (the first of our two game days). We’ll go park at an off-site location and get bussed to the stadium. We’ll do our pre-game work, get bussed back, and be home before the fourth quarter starts. Wish us luck!