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Sundance is Almost Over and the Volunteers are Planning to Come Back Next Year

Melissa Allison
Sundance volunteers working the evening shift that lasts until 2:30 a.m.

In spite of the freezing winds, slushy snow and crazy hours, more than 2,000 volunteers have come from all over the world to work at the Sundance Film Festival. Regardless of their diverse backgrounds, Senior Manager for the Volunteer Program Melissa Bowers said, they’re like a family and this year they’ve outdone themselves.

“You know we’ve had so much snow this year," Bowers said. "I’m finding that a lot of our volunteers that haven’t necessarily been responsible for snow removal are taking that on and people are taking up extra shifts.”

It’s not only the yellow jacket that gives away the volunteers, Bowers said each one has an infectious smile.

While they do work hard, Megan Peters who is from Salt Lake City said, they love it.

“Nobody has ever complained that we don’t get paid for our work," Peters said. "And I work longer hours at Sundance than I do at my real job and I never regret it.”

Russell Blanchard is from New Orleans and he agreed.

“Came to my first one four years ago and then just fell in love with it," Blanchard said. "The films, the frantic pace of running around like a psychopath. The networking, meeting people, just overall good vibe. So, I love coming back every year and will keep doing it as many years as I can.”

First time volunteer Nick Jordan is from San Francisco. He said it’s all about the people.

“I get to let people know what’s going on where and when and really help people enjoy the festival," Jordan said. "Maybe if they can’t get in somewhere they wanted to, or see the movie they wanted to see we can say, ‘Hey, you can go here and see some pretty sweet stuff.’ And they see it and come back and say, ‘Oh – that was awesome.’ So, that’s kind of the most fun stuff is when you get to kind of, improve someone’s experience.”

New Yorker Bob Giovanelli is a theater manager back home and said the volunteers at Sundance are like family and being in Park City is a perk.

“I just love this town," Giovanelli said. "Some years are snowier than others and I think this may be the snowiest in my 20 years but it’s just beautiful. I just love being here and I love being in the upper mountains and it’s a working vacation, in a way, even though I’m volunteering.”

Retired firefighter Nancy Shuster from San Diego found out about the festival ten years ago when her brother asked her to go with him.

“After the first year I just thought, ‘I love the vibe, the excitement, the people, the patrons that are all over and just the energy here,'" Shuster said. "And year after year I just love coming back and working with the same people they’re all dedicated to what they do.”

She said there’s nothing like Sundance in Park City.

“After the sun goes down and they turn the lights on in town here, oh my gosh, it’s just great," Shuster said. "Right now it’s raining in San Diego but I would, any day, pick this – I just love ten days of snow.”

More than 3,800 people apply to volunteer at the festival and Bowers said, the numbers go up every year.