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Monday, Oct 16, 2017
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Super Springsteen Fan Gets Halftime Dream Job

TAMPA - Bruce Springsteen, you have no idea what you did to Melanie Campbell about 25 years ago. A friend in Connecticut was about to throw out Springsteen's album, "The River." Campbell didn't know anything about him. But she liked the way he looked on the album cover. Flannel shirt. Scruffy. "Who's the cute guy on the cover?" she said.
One spin through the album and it was over. Love. And not the fleeting kind of love. Her love for Springsteen outlasted her marriage and traveled with her when she and her two children moved to Hernando County about four years ago. So it seemed fateful when her friend pointed out a small newspaper story that said Springsteen needed volunteers to put together the stage for his Super Bowl halftime show Sunday. She applied. She got selected. Pure joy. Her heart flutters when she thinks too much about it. "She is so pumped up," said Beth Monaco, Campbell's friend who alerted her to the need for volunteers. "This isn't the kind of thing she would ever do. I mean, she's a mom. Her kids come first, but I think Bruce comes second." The experience reminds of Campbell of the fluky way in which she got to see her first Springsteen concert. She was waiting at the school bus stop listening to earphones when a disc jockey announced that the first person with the correct answer to a Springsteen question won tickets to the concert. The question: Where is 10th Avenue and E Street, which had been the spiritual intersection of much of the band's work? Campbell faced a dilemma. She could go home and call in or get on the bus and never see the show. She raced home and called in the answer: Belmar, N.J. She won the tickets. "It was totally worth it," said Campbell, 37. Campbell has been to seven Springsteen concerts. "Not near enough." She is envious of fans that have traveled to see him 100 or more times. "Children cost money," said Campbell, a substitute teacher. What song does she hope he plays? "You can't pick a favorite," she said. "They're like your children." On Thursday, Campbell came to Tampa for one of several rehearsals. This time, Springsteen attended. The anticipation was crushing. "He's been my idol for 25 years," she said. At one point, Springsteen walked close. "My heart started racing," she said. "I could have touched him, but I didn't. It felt intrusive." Still, her jaw dropped. She put her hand over her heart. She felt faint. Springsteen looked over. He paused for a moment; then he smirked a little. Not a smile, but a smirk. Then he walked on by. The next time they meet, Campbell will be cheering to the left of the stage, near saxophonist Clarence Clemmons. She plans to bring a sign that says, "Bruce Springsteen Rocks."

Reporter Baird Helgeson can be reached at (813) 259-7668.

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