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Updated 10:00 AM February 13, 2006
 

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U-M staff gets much 'Satisfaction' from Super Bowl experience

Running into Ford Field with 65,000 people roaring, 91 million people watching on TV, and the Rolling Stones ready to rock was an unforgettable moment for 25 Wolverine Tower staff members.
After hearing that volunteer audience members were being recruited to see the Rolling Stones perform the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 5 at Ford Field in Detroit, a group of U-M staff in Wolverine Tower applied and attended rehearsals, including this one at the Pontiac Silverdome, and were on hand to jump and jive at the halftime show. (Photo courtesy Darlene Fero)

"It was just the excitement of seeing Ford Field filled to the absolute maximum capacity with screaming fans; the cameras, the lights—it was absolutely thrilling," says Darlene Fero, administrative assistant in Development, Budget and Administration. She organized the U-M group, part of a contingent of 2,000 screened volunteers who streamed onto the field as the Rolling Stones took the stage for the much-anticipated Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 5 in Detroit.

After spotting an early-January TV news report that audience members were being recruited to surround the Stones' halftime stage, Fero says she thought about it for a day, then decided to approach co-workers.

"I thought that just to be part of the excitement of the Super Bowl would be terrific; it would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Fero says. "I love the Rolling Stones; I've just enjoyed their music for 40 years; I rate their music with the Beatles. I started walking around the office to see who was interested."

One co-worker said she'd go along, but only if Bon Jovi was performing. A few others turned her down. But Fero still found plenty of co-workers willing to go through the security screening process and to join the effort.

Gordon Beeman, assistant general counsel in the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, says, "I grew up with the Rolling Stones. I remember going to mixer events in college (at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1965 and they played 'Satisfaction.' Another major reason was to be on the field at the Super Bowl in Detroit."

Roxanne Ross, human resource administrator in Financial Operations, is from Pittsburgh and a Steelers fan. "I was pretty excited," she says. "When I found out that the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to be in the Super Bowl, it made this opportunity even sweeter."

Star Flow Entertainment, the firm that recruited the on-field audience, asked applicants to submit information online. Fans ages 18 to seniors were on the field for the three-song performance.

But the preparation didn't end with the application and screening process. Before the show, the recruited audience members attended two rehearsals. The U-M group met at Wolverine Tower and carpooled. The first was Jan. 28 at the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Stones' stage was set up and audience volunteers were instructed where to stand in relation to the platform after running onto field. On the Friday before the Super Bowl, the group attended a rehearsal at Ford Field with the Stones.

"It was pretty great," Ross says. "That was closed to the media. ABC (TV network) was taping. My understanding was it was in case something went wrong, so they would have something on film."

At that rehearsal, the group surrounded the stage for the first three songs then left the field as the Stones played again without an audience. The volunteers were called back onto the field for yet another performance of the same songs.

Audience members were told not to wear black or white clothing, but to wear bright colors. "No logos, no hats, no coats," Fero recalls. "They told us to act like a fan at a concert," Ross adds. Volunteers were given box lunches with turkey, ham or veggie sandwiches, chips and pop.

On game day, the group again carpooled to the Michigan State Fairgrounds as instructed for a 3:45 p.m. check-in, then waited two hours inside the State Fair Coliseum. Not allowed to bring coats, group members were given shiny foil blankets before they boarded yellow school buses for a Detroit Police-escorted ride down Woodward Avenue to Ford Field.

"People standing on the street were waving and taking our picture—we thought that was pretty funny," Ross says. Upon arrival, they were led to tunnels running under Comerica Park and Ford Field. "Security patted you down like you'd be going on an airplane; the main thing was a bright yellow wrist band that was checked at all points," Ross says. On the band was the Super Bowl logo and the date.

There was no TV in the tunnels. While waiting, people calling home via cell phone would shout out the score from time to time. "We started moving with two minutes to go in the half," Ross says.

The stage was nearly erect when organizers encouraged the volunteers exiting the tunnel to "Go! Go! Go!" and run to their places near the stage.

"It was exciting—cameras were popping in the crowd and we could see the Stones on stage, they hadn't started singing," Beeman recalls. Ross says running onto the field was a special memory. "It's just energizing. The other thing for me was seeing the majority of fans in Steeler shirts; it was great."

The music started. "Everyone was excited—jumping, waving arms in the air, singing words to the song," Beeman says. "We were just generally excited, thinking we are on national and international TV." The U-M group took its place at the right-front of the stage, which was roughly
8 feet high.

"I was struck by how physically in shape Mick Jagger is—he's 62 and gets around pretty well," Beeman says. Ross adds, Jagger "looks good in person. We commented that he is kind of a little guy." Concludes Fero, "He has such a great stage presence, he's just all over the place. Mick's still got it."

During the second and third songs, audience members were encouraged to squeeze hand-held flashlights. "They wanted us to sing along; there were microphones hanging up above—I actually didn't notice them," Fero says, adding that guitarist Keith Richards played on their side of the stage.

At the conclusion of the show, the group was herded back into the Ford Field tunnels to exit. "I was hoping to see the football players," says Beeman, as they used the same tunnel.

Taking the same foil blankets, the group re-boarded the buses and headed back to the fairgrounds, where they were offered pizza and the chance to watch the second half of the game on TV. "It was great to be part of the Super Bowl and help Detroit; it was a new, fun and different way to be a volunteer," Beeman says.

"There were long days with a lot of sitting and standing and waiting; it was hard work," Fero says. "But the whole thing was wonderful, it really was."

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