Floral Park in Super Bowl Spotlight


Local family featured in Chevy commercial shot on Gladiolus Avenue

Lots of people watch the Super Bowl solely for the commercials. And this year will be no different, despite the New York Giants taking part in the big game. No matter what team wins or loses, there’s one Floral Park family that will be celebrating either way as three members of their family as well as their home will take center stage during one of Chevrolet’s four ads airing during Super Bowl XLVI.

Michael Ilkiw, a 2003 Floral Park Memorial High School graduate, along with his brother, Mark, and father, Mike, all played integral roles in the making of a commercial titled “Chevy Happy Grad,” which won the Chevrolet Route 66 film contest. The winning spot will not only be aired during the Super Bowl but also netted Zachary Borst, a 26-year-old filmmaker from Merrick, $25,000 for winning the contest.

“All the Ilkiws jumped on board for this crazy project so I’m really grateful to them,” said Borst, who graduated from Adelphi University with Michael in 2007. “They had a huge part in this. It all worked out perfectly because if they all said no, then I would have had to find a new location, new actors and a new cinematographer. Thankfully, they all said yes and were all really willing to help.”

With the Ilkiw’s home on Gladiolus Avenue serving as the backdrop for the commercial, Michael working as cinematographer and his brother and father showing off their acting skills, playing a jogger and neighbor respectively, the commercial was chosen from nearly 200 entries in 32 countries that entered the Chevy Route 66 contest.

“I was blown away when I found out,” Michael said. “I was like three feet off the ground for a good hour and a half, two hours. It was pretty unbelievable.”

Borst added, “I was floored, literally. All the blood rushed to my head. I was weak in the knees. I wasn’t expecting it so it was pretty overwhelming and pretty exciting.”

The commercial, which will be broadcast to a national television audience estimated to be more than 170 million people on Super Bowl Sunday, showcases a high school graduate who mistakenly thinks his parents got him a yellow Chevy Camaro as a graduation present. In actuality, the car belongs to his neighbor, played by Mike Ilkiw, who drives it away as the commercial comes to a close.

Borst said he came up with the concept for the commercial through his own life experience as his father, a New York City cop, bought him his first car, a 1997 Mitsubishi Mirage, as a gift during high school.

“The car really meant the world to me, of course, being my first car and all. So I was thinking about Chevy’s lineup and how a lot of kids get cars for their graduation. I thought a Camero is a really awesome car and I kind of played off that. It kind of evolved from that idea. But the main character gets a mini fridge; he really doesn’t get the car, even though he thinks he has it. I have to admit, it’s kind of a satire.”

There are 60- and 30-second versions of the commercial, but Borst said he doesn’t know which one will appear during the Super Bowl. Borst added that Chevy played the 30-second spot during the NFC Championship Game, which featured the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

And what makes this even better for Borst and Michael is that they are both die-hand Giants fans.

“It’s amazing that I have this opportunity where 170 million people will see my commercial, but on top of that, this is my team,” Borst said. “I feel somehow connected to them. It just makes it that much sweeter and interesting and exciting. But if it wasn’t the Giants, and they didn’t win last week, it would still be absolutely amazing. It’s indescribable, but it’s just tenfold now. It’s that much cooler and that much more interesting with the Giants playing.”

Michael said he’ll be rooting for the Giants, but that he and Borst will have reason to celebrate either way come Sunday.

“Hopefully we’ll be celebrating a Giants win on Sunday,” Michael said. “I hope they win it all. Let’s hope the Giants can pull it out. That would be great. But I’m sure there will be a celebration either way when the commercial airs. It feels like I’m a little kid again and the Super Bowl is like Christmas morning.”

To watch the commercial, visit http://youtu.be/ Ae52ourE3Pw.

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