When the doors swung open on the Super Bowl LII volunteer center downtown over the weekend to the sound of Skol line drums and cheering, John Wahl of St. Louis Park was the first volunteer in line.
Wahl, 84, is back for a second Super Bowl. He volunteered for the 1992 game at the the Metrodome. That year, he was stationed as a "host" at the Marriott Hotel in Minnetonka. Wahl recalled the gig, saying he provided recommendations for sites and restaurants to visitors.
He also gave them directions in the pre-GPS era. "At that time when people wanted to go to places, we'd get out the maps and the highlighters," he said, adding that they'd hand over the paper maps with the routes highlighted.
During the 2018 game, Wahl said his preferred volunteer gig would be as support staff in the volunteer center. The center is on the ground floor on the northwest corner of 7th Street South and Nicollet Mall at City Center.
For the next couple of months, Super Bowl Host Committee organizers, led by volunteer coordinator Elle Kehoe, will be conducting interviews of prospective volunteers three days a week.
The host committee requires 10,000 volunteers to put on the 10-day event starting in late January and culminating in the game Feb. 4. Some 20,000 people already have applied from Minnesota and beyond, but the host committee encourages more to log in and sign up.
The first step is to apply through the host committee's website. Next, would-be volunteers must sign up for an interview slot. Walk-ins aren't allowed.
The interview process ran smoothly on the first day, Saturday, with hopeful volunteer candidates filing in, watching a video from organizers and Crew 52 leader Chad Greenway. Then they went into interviews where they were asked a handful of questions aimed at determining whether they're the sort of enthusiastic, chatty types who will provide warm welcomes to visitors.
Interviews will continue through September. As for Wahl, he said he's a committed volunteer, logging some 500 hours a year. He explained why he was first-in-line early Saturday, "I've got a lot of things to do today."