Tents were up, power was good to go, catering, décor and rentals were all in place. The setup was perfect, the tent was beautiful, and we were on schedule for the event. With knowledge of potential rain in the forecast we kept an eye on the weather alerts in the area.
Just as the event was about to begin we heard thunder… then came the lightning and rain. What was previously a small chance of rain was upgraded to a full-on summer storm headed our way! Weather is always an uncontrollable factor, so we plan for all scenarios.
We knew the tents were secured, buttoned up and grounded. We were prepared - after all, we've held hundreds of events in tents during rain storms. This however, was about to be A LOT of rain. We started noticed small drips coming down from the main tent's ceiling. We kept calm and had our tenting team up on ladders solving the issues. Meanwhile, we carefully repositioned tables to avoid the leaks. Problem solved… or so we thought.
Once the cocktail party ended, guests started to enter the main tent. That is when the rain really started coming down. Noticing a few "spouts" of water in the marquee connectors, Megan Woonton, Senior Account Manager, and I grabbed our clipboards, threw all our paperwork to the side and started using the clipboards to redirect the incoming water back out of the tent as we smiled at guests and welcomed them into the dinner.
Guests were dry at their tables, but the rain was coming down so furiously, the main concern became the amount of ground water and not the tent.
Even with the equipment elevated, the water began to creep towards the lighting and sound equipment. The goal remained clear: keep the program going. We continued to call the show all while members of the team physically relocated all the equipment to a higher ground.
The water seemed to be chasing us, but with a little proactive management and a touch of fate we remained two steps ahead. During dinner service, we were informed that the cocktail catering tent had flooded and had to be evacuated. Thankfully at that point cocktail hour was over and we had dodged a bullet! Dinner service continued as planned in the main tent.
The event was almost over, the program was coming to an end, food was served and we thought we were out of the trenches. But WAIT, the water was creeping closer and closer to the two generators powering the tents. Always being prepared with an emergency safety plan, we gathered the decision makers, tracked the weather radar to see how close lightning was and talked through the evacuation plan should the lightning get closer. Thankfully, the evacuation wasn't necessary, but we were ready if it had been.
Throughout this nightmare, we all kept calm and maintained our smiles and the guests never knew how severe the situation was. So much rain fell within the hour, that had it been snow, we would have had 8 feet on the ground! Although it was a nightmare, the event ended up being a great success and looked absolutely stunning!
The best part of it all: it stopped raining the second the last person walked out of the tent!
Event Nightmare: Claudia Hankowski
Title: Account Manager
Photo Credit: Megapix
Bridgewell's 2018 Imagine the Possibilities Gala was surely a night of surprises and engagement for all who attended this heart-warming event. If you aren't familiar with the organization, Bridgewell strengthens communities by providing an unmatched range of social and human services that empower people with disabilities and other life challenges to live safe, self-directed and productive lives. Bridgewell delivers support through community housing, day programs, outpatient treatment, recovery services, education and employment training. They respond to the needs of the community and tailor services to the individual.
Bridgewell works with over 6,300 people to reach their full potential and make their life goals come true. This evening was also special as the organization celebrated 60 years in the community. For such an exceptional organization we wanted to shake things up and make the night a memorable experience by creating an evening full of surprises. Our goal was to make the night feel as special as Bridgewell makes people in their services feel.
Photo Credit: Megapix
Photo Credit: Megapix
Once guests were seated in the ballroom, which was washed in Bridgewell's signature purple, the night kicked off with a timpanist drumming from the balcony. What's a timpanist you ask? A drummer who plays big, giant, fun and loud drums which immediately grabbed people's attention. Talk about turning heads! This simple addition helped make the night vibrant & fun.
Another example of how we were able to surprise the guests was pop-up speakers, strategically placed throughout the evening. People in Bridgewell's services spoke their tables and were highlighted with a dramatic beam of light. Projected on the big screens, they shared personal stories of what Bridgewell means to them. This was an integral part of the night as attendees were able to make a connection with people who utelize Bridgewell's services. They truly enjoyed hearing how Bridgewell has helped people achieve their personal life goals and supported their paths to wellness.
There was so much emotion in the room, it was beautiful.
We loved partnering with Bridgewell on their special anniversary gala. It was a meaningful and memorable experience for all!
To learn more about Bridgewell please go to www.bridgewell.org.