Ariel Toback went from being incredibly unsettled in her new Minnesota life, to being a part of the team rolling out the welcome mat to the world. Toback is working for the Super Bowl Host Committee that is preparing the Twin Cities for Super Bowl LII next February. Get to know her in this week’s Who The Folk?!
How long have you been in Minnesota?
I moved here July 2015, but I really don’t feel like I moved here until July 2016.
I was a little in denial. I went back to Connecticut and New York for months at a time. I was working for Disney back in New York before we moved here and I was offered the opportunity to work on the Shanghai Disney grand opening. So I went to Shanghai for about 3 months.
Tough to pass that up.
Yeah, there was no way I could pass that up. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much. So I was gone for a long time.
What brought you to Minnesota in the first place?
My husband’s job. He was working for Goldman Sachs in New York; one of his clients was out here and hired him. He had come out here multiple times to visit his client, but I had never been out to Minnesota before we moved.
How are you finding it?
Now that I’m working, I much more integrated into the community. I feel like I played a lot of Jewish geography. But it’s how I’ve gotten connected to a lot of the people I know.
What did you do for Disney?
When I was in New York I was on the national sales team, so we were doing all the meetings and conventions for all Disney properties: Florida, California, Hawaii, sometimes China. When we moved, I couldn’t work remotely so I left my job. But when I was in Shanghai, I was really just working on the grand opening event. There were three days of events. But it was amazing. Our office was right behind the huge castle that they built there. It was incredible. We did get to test a couple of the rides. My favorite was “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but it’s totally different than what you’d experience in Florida or California.
Now you’re with the Super Bowl Host Committee; what’s your role with them?
I’m partnership activation manager, so I work with all our partners. We’re set up as a 501(c)6 non-profit. It’s all private money and it goes to putting on the Super Bowl. Feb 4, 2018. I look at the countdown on the website every day. It’s been really fun. I’ve met a lot of people in the community through that and worked with amazing companies that I didn’t know were based here. I lived in my bubble in New York, which was great, but it’s really incredible to get out of that and see what else exists. I didn’t know anything about Minnesota, except the cold. Now that I’m here, it’s such a unique opportunity, especially to work on the Super Bowl. There’s going to be more than 1 million visiting. Getting to help bring that to everyone coming through is going to be fun.
The job is challenging, but there’s an expiration date on it; you’re fine with that?
I’m not really concerned about it. I moved here without a job and I was able to find this amazing opportunity. I’ll roll with whatever comes up next. I’m also pregnant, so I may take a little time after that.
Do you feel more settled in?
Yes. We’re buying a house, so we’re staying.
How many people have hit you up for Super Bowl tickets?
A lot. People back home. Even this year for the game; I’m from New England and I’m a Giants fan, but some people are Patriots fans. They were asking me if I could get them tickets. People are asking if I can get them tickets and who’s the halftime performer.
Do they know that yet?
Can you get me tickets?
(Laughter). I wish.
Did you grow up a big football fan?
Yes. Being a Giants fan has been in my blood since I was born. My grandfather was a huge Giants fan, and it’s been in my family. I still have some of his sweatshirts and jackets. We found a home video from when I was born and one of my uncles brought me a Giants’ jersey. So I registered that for my baby.
It’s a job and a great job, but being a football fan, does it bring a different level of enjoyment?
Yes, it’s fun because the job, in a way, revolves around football. But there are so many other things. There are so many events that happen, but one of the things I’m working with our partners on is our Super Bowl festival, which is a free event where anyone downtown is going to want to be a part of it. There’s a lot of things that are all being confirmed. But it’s going to be awesome.
Did you go to Houston to see what goes on?
I didn’t go to the game but I went to everything else – just watching how they did it and learning from them. With our stadium being downtown, it totally changes the game. Because it’s right here. You don’t have to drive 30 minutes. You don’t have to find a way to get there. It’s all here and you’re going to feel it.
When I was in New York, they hosted the Super Bowl. My Disney office was in Times Square and its open to the public fan event was in Times Square. The New Yorkers were jaded. People don’t get as excited about those things. In New York, you walk down the street and see a movie being filmed every other day. Where there are big events it isn’t as exciting. For it to come to this market will be really fun. There’s over 1 million coming to town but only 60,000 go to the game. You still get to experience so much of what goes on without the game. People see what Minnesota has to offer. What should happen is organizations like the JCCs and (JFCS) NextGen should do events. That’s going to be a great experience that you’re not going to always have.
Are you involved with organizations in town?
Since I started here I haven’t been doing as much. I was working with the JCC on the J Games with the (Olympiada), but then I started in China and the 13-hour time difference became too hard. We just joined Temple Israel. The Jewish community has been really welcoming. Right when we moved I was invited to a transplant Rosh Hashanah.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
I would say Passover. I just like getting together with all the family. And really good food. I like the tradition of it.
Favorite Jewish food?
Latkes. And Kugel. My mom always made latkes growing up and not always at Hanukkah. And kugel I always loved, with raisins. I know it’s controversial. Also bagels, lox, and cream cheese. With the bagel toasted.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!