The Jets Flight Crew, Manhattan and the fans came together for a big little affair earlier this week. The occasion was the unveiling of the Crew's first swimsuit calendar in front of Jets Shop in midtown.
Director Denise Garvey marveled at the scene, and at the tall order of getting to "here" from "there," back before the photo shoots took place in May.
"This was something we talked about but didn't actually know if it was going to happen," Garvey said as she stood behind the 13 Crew members featured in the calendar, signing their "months" for the fans who came to get their autographs. "When we got the go-ahead, everything happened so fast.
"Now to be here with the girls in Manhattan, in front of the Jets Shop, signing autographs — we've come a long way in a very short amount of time and it's something that we appreciate."
Christie A. from Fair Lawn, N.J., called the experience "definitely humbling."
"I'm always excited to meet our fans," she said, "and when they know you personally, they associate your name with your face, and now you're in a calendar, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
That is the larger story to this calendar: the acceptance the Jets' cheerleaders are getting in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area. One who appreciates that was also in the crowd on this night: Jets owner Woody Johnson.
"The Flight Crew is an important part of the organization," Johnson said. "The fans love them, and they're amazing in terms of getting the crowd going. They're incredible. They're great ambassadors for us."
So in that way the calendar is an ambassadorial tool for elevating the Jets' and the Flight Crew's brands around the area. And in that sense, it helps that the calendar, everyone in attendance agreed, is such a beautiful production.
"My month is April, and I think the calendar came out awesome," said Jessica S. of Iselin, N.J. "I've never looked so beautiful before."
"I love my month," added Christie. "And I'm very thrilled with my picture."
Calendar cover model Linda agreed. "Everything looks great," she said. "Everything is perfect."
Steve Vaccariello was also pleased with the product, and that counts for a lot — he was the project's photographer who has shot calendars for NFL and NBA teams.
"I've done a lot of exotic locations, like Cozumel, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic," Vaccariello said. "This one was cool because we kept it local. We shot it all right here in New York and New Jersey, which I thought was kind of neat for the Jets' first calendar. And it made a good splash, I think."
"What I'm most excited about," said Chris Pierce, the Jets' senior director of merchandising, "is that we tapped into something that our fans really want. One was the idea of the Flight Crew and having cheerleaders, embracing that concept. Then in our third year we're able to bring a swimsuit calendar out there that has been really well-received by the fans.
"The Flight Crew members themselves are really proud and happy with the effort, and what it's done is generated a lot of excitement."
And the excitement for the 2009 New York Jets Flight Crew, just as it does for the 2009 New York Jets, makes a major leap beginning Sunday at Houston and then the following Sunday for the home opener against the Patriots.
And once next year arrives, the planning begins again, and for 2010, maybe one of those exotic locations will be in the mix.
"The water, the weather, Honolulu," Jessica mused. "I've always wanted to go to Hawaii."