By Tia Mitchell - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionHelena Oliviero - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionBo Emerson - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionArlinda Smith Broady - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionRaisa Habersham - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jan 30, 2019
With an influx of people in metro Atlanta for Super Bowl 53, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has taken time to highlight five faces in the crowd of thousands each day leading up to the big game. They may be from miles away, or they may be your neighbor. Here are the five stories from Tuesday you should know.
Mulchandani said his clients generally fall into two categories. There is the church-going crowd, including conservative preachers and outgoing, flamboyant ones. The other category of shoppers is entertainers and professional partiers.
He has customized suits for Terry Bradshaw, and there is an autographed picture of Steve Harvey behind the register. Speed skater Apolo Ono is a regular customer.
Mulchandani receives steady orders from the store’s UpscaleMenswear.com website and listings on eBay and Amazon. Celebrity stylists have him on speed dial. But Super Bowl week will bring hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people passing by the store front.
He hopes they like what they see.
— Tia Mitchell
Lyft driver ‘going all out’ for Rams, ready to have fun this week
Shannon Holifield, a part-time Lyft driver, says she’s a lukewarm fan of the NFL. But this week, she’s all in for the Los Angeles Rams.
There’s the the Atlanta Falcons’ crushing loss to the New England Patriots two years ago. And then she’s tired of seeing Patriots win again and again. Those two factors have this mild fan of the game into a bit of a die-hard Rams fan.
She plans to drive around this week in blue and gold – from head to toe.
“I’ve got a blue wig,” said Holifield who lives in Lithonia. “I’ll go in my closet for blue and gold clothes. And I’ve got blue and gold eye make-up. I’m going all out.”
Holifield, who works from home as a mediator for Airbnb, said she started driving Lyft a handful of hours every week about a month ago to get out of the house and make extra money. Her favorite part is meeting people, and as the Super Bowl approaches, she’s eager to meet fans living here locally and those traveling from out of town, and she’s ready for some friendly banter with New England Patriots fans.
As she arrived downtown under a steady rain and eyed nearly empty streets Tuesday morning, she smiled – thinking about how the number of people walking the streets and the energy of the city should soon change. She plans to head back and forth to downtown Atlanta constantly during the coming days.
“Everyone is going to be here having fun,” said Holifield. “And I will have fun, too. I will be the fun driver.”
— Helena Oliviero
Mounted Patrol officer stands out in Super Bowl crowd
Crowd control during major events, such as the Super Bowl, can be a challenge.
Being 10 feet tall is an advantage.
Sitting atop a Percheron-Shire hybrid named Magnum, Officer Abraham Perez-Gilbert is well above the crowd, and can spot trouble easily.
He can also move much faster than a culprit on foot. This huge animal, who tips the scales at just over 2,000 pounds, also has an impact. Most people don’t argue with a horse.
Perez-Gilbert is one of a dozen-or-so members of the Atlanta Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, a group that will be very active during Super Bowl week, dealing with the one million visitors to the city and the many outdoor events leading up to the Patriots-Rams game.
The 32-year-old Perez-Gilbert grew up in the mountains of Puerto Rico, where it wasn’t unusual to see his neighbors on horses, either for entertainment or transportation. But he was not a horseback enthusiast until three years ago. He learned everything he knows about the equestrian arts at the APD’s Grant Park facility, which includes a tack room, office quarters and a barn and exercise arena for the horses.
“I wanted to try something different, and this was really different,” he said.
His supervisor, Lt. Greg Lyon, said the other benefit of the mounted detail is its unique engagement with the community. Grownups and kids all get excited when they see an officer on horseback, and frequently start snapping photographs.
“We always get a smile,” said Lyon. “Many people forget there’s a cell phone law in Georgia when we come up next to them at a red light.”
— Bo Emerson
Assistant director works with ‘amazing’ group of volunteers
When people think about huge sports events such as the Super Bowl, their first thought probably isn’t about the people behind the scenes — especially those who do it for no pay. But those folks are front of mind for Matt Snyder, assistant director for the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee’s volunteer program.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Although he graduated from Arizona State University in 2015, he’s got tons of experience in various aspects of operations for major events, working for Live Nation, Tough Mudder and as volunteer coordinator for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
“I have one of the best jobs in the world,” he said. “I get to interact with amazing people who want to help and have a good time.”
He has dozens of stories about people going above and beyond for nothing more than memories, cool swag and a chance to do something cool.
“We have a volunteer who’s come all the way from Australia,” he said. “And a group of ladies who make Super Bowl volunteering a sort of girls’ weekend.”
Volunteering is something he does regularly himself. He’s done work for Make-A-Wish and looks for opportunities big and small in every city he’s in. After graduation he worked for the Chicago Cubs in stadium operations and fan experience. After that he was part of the Tough Mudder — an event that traveled from city to city and encompassed a 10-mile obstacle course for contestants.
“My home base was Brooklyn and I’d spend a few days on my uncle’s couch and head to different cities all over the country.”
But if Super Bowl LIV comes a-callin’ he has a ready answer.
— Arlinda Smith Broady
Ice cream vendor opens weeks early to serve hungry fans
Even after crowds from the first night of the Super Bowl Live Experience had dispersed, ice cream vendor Grindl Reynolds dancing vibrantly with a customer to hip-hop music. She kept the party going for onlookers and lingerers as she blasted hit radio songs and had an LED TV screen for viewing.
“I’m an ice cream vendor, but it’s turned in to so much more,” she said.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Originally from Lynn, Massachusetts, Reynolds has been in Atlanta since 1997, a move she made with her mom who was looking for warmer weather. Since then she’s worked a myriad of jobs including a concierge, a stint at Disney World and a KinderCare Learning Center director.
It wasn’t until 2017, that she decided to go after her dream: selling ice cream cones and treats.
“This is my party every day,” she said. “When you do what you love you’re never working.”
Reynolds typically sets up shop in late February, but with the Super Bowl drawing hundreds, Reynolds couldn’t resist an early start. She said it’s too early to tell if she’ll see an increase in foot traffic for Super Bowl festivities.
“But you see it happening because everything is built up around here for the free shows in Centennial Park,” she said.
As far as the game is concerned, Reynolds is rooting for The Patriots. And an eventual win would come just in time: She celebrates her birthday Friday.
“That would be nothing new,” she said between laughs. “We always win.”
While true to New England, Reynolds plans on playing the Atlanta favorite “Turn Down for What?” if the five-time champs win.