As part of the Wings’ partnership with Volunteer Energy, the Red Patrol – made up of six enthusiastic members – was conceived at the beginning of this season and has added a unique element to each home game.
The Volunteer Energy Red Patrol has a number of responsibilities that put them in close contact with the fans. The team chooses contestants for Score-O and Michigan Lottery Big Ticket promotions, throws T-shirts into the stands, completes the Little Caesars Pizza Tosses and runs the promotions that occur at TV timeouts and intermissions.
“When we made the decision to start a brand awareness campaign in Michigan, we knew that a long-term relationship with the Red Wings was the right choice due to the quality of the organization, the devotion of their fan base, and of course, their legacy of winning,” said Jerry Haines, director of marketing for Volunteer Energy. “The results have been great. We’re getting lots of recognition from our Volunteer Energy Red Patrol sponsorship, and it’s definitely making a positive impact on our growth in Michigan.”
Ayron Sequeira is the executive producer of event entertainment at The Joe, and, as the glue that holds together much of the off-ice arena experience. Sequeira is constantly in communication with the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol on a radio headset during games.
“The Volunteer Energy Red Patrol is an integral part of the game day experience simply because they act as brand ambassadors,” she said. “They’re the liaison between the Wings and the fans on game day.
“They really become part of the organization and part of the fan experience because they’re high-energy people that make fans smile. They fill the gap between what’s happening on the ice and what fans are hearing over the public address system.
That representation of the Wings extends beyond the arena experience, as the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol also attends the Meijer and Walmart player visits, HockeyFest, Fan Fest, away game viewing parties and school visits.
For Volunteer Energy, the collaboration with the Wings through the Red Patrol has resulted in increased exposure for the natural gas and electricity supplier.
Caitlin Powell, one of the six Volunteer Energy Red Patrol team members, got a spot on the squad when she asked the Wings before the season if they had an in-house promotion team. As this marks the first year of the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol, the current team members had to audition and complete two trial games before they were offered a spot.
“Probably my outgoing personality,” Powell said of what qualities made her a good candidate. “All of us are pretty outgoing, that’s what they’re looking for. We’re supposed to be the energetic ones in the game, getting the crowd riled up.”
Getting the crowd energized means that the four members who work each game on an alternating rotation are in constant motion each night. Powell estimates that the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol runs up and down at least 15-20 flights of stairs each night.
But when preparing for that nonstop activity, it doesn’t take much to get the crew amped up before a game as the members are all tightly-knit friends, having worked together at every home game this year.
“We run through the game and pretty much figure out what we have going on and make sure we have the prizes we need,” Powell said of the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol’s pregame activities. “Figure out who’s being where at what time and then just before the game we kind of just hang out and talk and that gets us fired up. We’re so close to each other that it’s like a little family.”
A graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, Powell also works for the Fox Theatre as an event operations assistant in addition to her position on the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol. She cites selecting children for the Zamboni rides as one of her favorite parts of the job.
“I love the little kids that get to ride the Zamboni,” Powell said. “They’re so excited. It makes their lifetime.”
Acting as a constant liaison between the fans and the action on the ice has given the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol a pretty good idea of what Wings fans are all about.
“A person that comes to the game in all of their Red Wings gear and then they’re attentive through the game, they know what’s going on,” Powell said. “They think they’re a ref too, you know. We’ve got some interesting Red Wings’ fans.”
You can find bios of the six members of the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol CLICK HERE