The Super Bowl Finally Returns to Houston
And somehow my name was picked off the volunteer website to be in the Pregame Show.

The Columbia crew was lost exactly one year ago.
And it was only fitting to have a tribute to the Columbia crew during the pregame show.
01 Feb 2004

Two Weeks of Rehearsals
We had several rehearsals, increasing in complexity each time, from rolling our empty stages around in a building,
to rolling our partially complete stages to the stadium, to the all-day dress rehearsal on the tarp covered Princess grass.
We had only one day for it all to "come together" on the field with everyone there,
including the musical performers and the CBS cameras.




Dress rehearsal was an all day event with each performer doing their set several times.
This could include just the performer, the dancers, pyro, base jumpers for Aerosmith or any combination of thereof.
Sometimes the complete set from top to bottom would be redone for camera angles alone.



It was also the first time we had our moon man tucked under the stage to rise up on the lift.
(which by the way, made my half of the moon much heavier...).
We only had to do our take once!


One shot, on your mark - everything we prepared for these two weeks had to go down perfectly.
We lined up outside the stadium, and as our line got shorter, it wasn't really until I was inside the concourse and looked up at the tv
seeing the live feed with Toby and Willie singing that I realized we were doing this for real this time.
That is when the nausea hit. We stayed down there for a while, watching the celebrities and half time entertainment arrive
along with George and Barbara Bush, waiting for our turn while the bands played, and the players were introduced.
Then in an instant, we were given our GO, adrenaline pumped through my veins as we hit the ramp and ran,
stage in tow, out onto the field, amidst all the players. We had three minutes to get set.
When we hit the 50 yard line, we were right on our mark and I had time to actually stand there and take it all in
before I dropped the stage skirt and readied myself to pull the NASA banner off the moon.
It wasn't at all like I thought it would be.
There are seconds that I do not remember.
I remember having tears in my eyes as I watched the Columbia photos flash across the jumbotron.
I was so taken by those moments I almost missed my queue to pull the NASA logo off the stage, revealing a beautiful moon.
I remember knealing on the pristine grass and noticing how brilliant the red, white, and blue stripes on the 50 yard line were.
I remember being so shocked when all the crowd held up seat cards, flanking the stadium in flags,
and how those seat cards transformed into stars and stripes towards the end of the anthem.
I remember banging on the stage to get our moon man to come down so we could strike the stage and go.
We were off the field, and up the ramp before the coin even had a chance to be flipped.


A full motorcycle police escort stopped traffic on US59 and I610 for our buses to get to the stadium.


This is 250 of us, all in our shirts and caps, waiting in the security lines - we actually had it easy...


Pushing our moon stages to the stadium from our compound - I am on M2 on the right.


Original plans involved Aerosmith pretending to parachute in, hence why they were in jumpsuits.



Once the music stages hit the field, we moved up into the stadium and waited again.
After player introductions we flew out the ramp and across the field, the grass unprotected by the tarp.
Football players were everywhere ... that wasn't part of our dress rehearsal.



Mission Accomplished

The Moon Crew

God Bless Columbia and her crew!
In remembering their lives, their dreams, we will rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of our own dreams and aspirations.
Pause and remember - then roll up our sleeves, get to work, and go do it.
These heroes of spaceflight deserve nothing less than our very best.
Stand on their shoulders, walk in their footsteps, and continue their journey.

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Susan N. Freeman