You didn’t think the Super Bowl could come to Minnesota without some connections to Sleepy Eye, did you?

You didn’t think the Super Bowl could come to Minnesota without some connections to Sleepy Eye, did you? Two stories the Herald-Dispatch learned about involve a couple of Sleepy Eye people volunteering for Super Bowl related events.

Chris Braun was one of more than 10,000 volunteers who made up Crew 52, welcoming visitors to Super Bowl activities. She said the experience was a way of combining her love of football, Minnesota and volunteering.

“I developed my love for football by watching the Vikings with my Dad when I was growing up. I probably asked a hundred questions and drove him crazy because he wanted to watch the game, but he explained everything to me. I also loved watching my boys play at St. Mary’s when they were in high school,” said Chris. “Now I am a Vikings fan and even though they didn’t make it to the Super Bowl they gave us a great season. Being part of Crew 52 was a way of being part of it.”

Chris and her husband Brian both signed up to volunteer—along with 30,000 other people. Chris was the lucky one who made the cut. Maybe it was her gift of gab.

“I worked in Volunteer Headquarters, the weekend before the Super Bowl, handing out snacks to the volunteers as they came through after their shifts,” Chris explained. “I like to visit and this was a perfect assignment for me. I could see their nametags and where they were from. I had so much fun talking to other volunteers.” She said about 2,000 volunteers came through each day.

“Brian and I have been recipients of people’s kindness—after our house fire and his cancer—so we try to give back when possible,” said Chris on why she loves volunteering. “Pay it forward!”

Across the river, in St. Paul, Mike Mages also had a role in enhancing the Super Bowl experience for visitors.

“When the president of the MN Bricklayers Union asked me to help build this year’s elaborate ice palace, I couldn’t tell him no,” said Mike. “I figured this would definitely be a good year to help build it—being the Super Bowl was going to be here in Minnesota.”

Mike said there are over 4,000 blocks in the ice palace. It’s 70 feet high and each ice block weighed 500 pounds. “All the blocks came from Green Lake by Spicer,” said Mike. “Each block was set with a crane. There were 4 cranes on the job site. There was a lot of organization to get this ice palace built in just two and a half weeks!”

Mike said all of the bricklayers were treated “like Minnesota royalty” with catered food and all the hot chocolate they could drink. “Now I am happy to be able to check this off my bucket list!”