Southern Scribe
    our culture of storytelling

 

 Porch Tale   

 

 

It’s Going To Be A “Super” Bowl

 

by Dickie Anderson
 
 
 
 

 

We have company coming. 100,000 people to be exact.  When Jacksonville hosts the 2005 Super Bowl. February 6, 2005, it will become one of only a dozen cities to have held that honor and one of the smallest.

Make no mistake; this is a really big deal. During game week close to 100,000 people will visit our city. Among them 3,000 credentialed journalists, so we had better be on our best behavior.  The game will be televised and should reach close to a billion people in 201 countries.

Jacksonville wants to show the world that we are not some unsophisticated little burg in Northern Florida – we are a big city with small town friendliness. We have demonstrated we are innovators. When the city fell 3,000 rooms short of the required minimum, the city simply chartered five cruise ships to top off the room requirements. So we are the "Super Bowl on the River”. More then 7,000 people will stay in the floating hotels docked on the St. Johns River.

Jacksonville loves football and has the history to prove it.  In November of 1901 Florida’s first football game was played in Jacksonville. In 1915, the first Georgia – Florida Football game was played (Georgia won) and in 1946 the first Gator Bowl hosted Wake Forest and South Carolina (Wake Forest won). In 1993, Jacksonville landed an NFL franchise and became the home of the beloved Jaguars. The city went all out to get its major league stadium ready for its first game. The Jaguars were the first NFL expansion team to play their opening game in a new stadium.

What do you do when companies coming? You clean house and fix-up. So our stadium, city and airports are busy getting ready for our guests. The first week of November some of the more than 9,000 volunteers met for a three hour training session at the Jacksonville Airport. I joined the group and am on my way to be an official “ambassador” for Jacksonville’s big party. There will be more meetings as we get closer and we will be issued our picture IDs and official uniform – red shirt, hat and blue windbreaker.

As the eager audience of would be “ambassadors” waited for the program to start, you could feel a kind of cheer leading energy in the room. This is a lot more then a football game, organizers reminded us. It is our chance to show off our home town and demonstrate what a great place it is to live or have a business.

Hosting 100,000 guests takes a lot of planning. A parade of enthusiastic presenters briefed us on airport parking, security, medical assistance and the locations of key venues during Super Bowl Week. We were not surprised to learn there were no volunteer opportunities inside the stadium and absolutely no tickets available.

We met Jacksonville’s version of Big Bird, our own Scoop, an oversized pelican who serves as Jacksonville’s official Super Bowl XXXIX mascot.

The only topic that no one talked about was the weather. No one wants to talk about weather in Florida. We have done more than our share of that. So let’s hope for crystal clear, warm, sunny days to show off our fair city.

What more could we want? How about one of the teams dressed in teal?


Our porch photo is of Wallow Lodge on Sapelo Island, Georgia.

Dickie Anderson is a free-lance writer living on Amelia Island, Florida. Born in Seattle, Washington raised in Chicago and schooled in New York, Dickie ended up in Iowa City, Iowa where she was responsible for the marketing of the men's and women's athletic programs at the University of Iowa. She started her own marketing and consulting business and moved to Amelia Island. Her quirky look at mid-life and living on a barrier island off Northern Florida resulted in her weekly column, From the Porch, for the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Florida's daily newspaper.  Learn more about Dickie and her books at http://www.dickieanderson.com . 

© 2005, Dickie Anderson, All Rights Reserved