Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Someone call the doctor! We've got the Fun Fourth Hangover!

The fun fourth. Three words that have been the cause of both joy and pain. This being my second go ‘round at the street festival that brings fun and happiness to all generations I felt that surely I must have a handle on how to make this year as fun and stress free as possible. I was armed with a new intern, Stephanie Gray, a golf cart full of gas and a walkie-talkie at full blast I started the day with hopes high and worries low. Through out the day Stephanie and I encountered some things that we found priceless. We learned a lot on July 3 and here is a small taste of what the fun fourth can teach you. Even if you think you’ve seen it all, as I naively thought, there is still more to see and do than you think. Here is a list of a few of the things that we will surely never forget.

1. Dispatching table clothes is an important job

2. Golf carts ARE as fun as you think…..maybe even funner.

3. The police don’t like people touching their signs

4. Fried Butter?!? Do people have a death wish?

5. The Burlington teen tour band is NOT from Burlington NC. They’re from Canada!

6. Table clothes multiply when you’re not looking

7. The only place where you can receive medical attention faster then the hospital itself is the fun fourth festival. You rock EMS, Police, and Fire bike patrol!

8. Table clothes are officially evil

9. No, I cannot give you a ride in my golf cart

10. The fun fourth hangover is a real medical condition and should be taken seriously.

These ten lessons along with the other events of the festival ensured that Stephanie and I were working hard, having fun, and staying entertained. Looking back on the festival it all seemed to be a blur. However through the aching feet, the sweating body, and the headaches, seeing it all come together was an extremely rewarding experience. The volunteers, staff, and crew deserve to be commended for the work they did. I came to appreciate all the handwork and preparation that went into making the festival a great success.

Maybe next year you will see us cruising around in this!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Behind the Scenes - Final Chapter - Fun 4th Hangover

The main ingredient of the Fun 4th week for staff, crew and volunteers is adrenaline. So much happens so quickly and so intensely that we're all just running on incredible bursts of adrenaline. In fact, the adrenaline rush is so intense that you tend to not be able to sleep even when you have the opportunity. So when it's all over, and our bodies stop producing all that adrenaline, we end up with what we call the Fun 4th Hangover. Basically, we crash and we crash hard. Which would be fine -- if we had a week off to recover.

Unfortunately, all that gak and gear we use for Fun 4th gets slammed back into our crazy suite of offices in the Old Greensborough Gateway Building with very little rhyme or reason, and we have to spend the next week sorting it all out, just so we can operate. As much a we'd like to think it's all about Fun 4th, we have other events we have to move on to now. Center City Park, Festival of Lights and Run 4 the Greenway didn't go away while we were shooting off some fireworks and eating funnel cakes.

So here's a peak at what we woke up to on the morning after. We have a few more days of work on it -- and then we're off to the beach! And then -- it is T minus 146 days until Festival of Lights. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ya'll.....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Betty Cone

I started to write this blog about our fearless leader here at Grassroots Productions, but if you already know Betty Cone, then you'll know that no words I can come up with will be sufficient to describe her. If you don't already know the Queen of Greensboro, find an opportunity to -- you'll never regret it. Betty Cone is one of the most generously committed people you will ever meet -- and one hour of her time is filled with more passion than most people experience in a lifetime. Like I said -- words fall way way short of the amazing complexity that is Betty Cone, but in a universe where a picture is worth a thousand words, this one pretty much sums it up. Congratulations on another fantastic Fun 4th -- thanks for continuing to be our muse!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating the Fourth of July

There's a song in 1776 (which you can still see - the last show starts at 3pm today!) called "Is Anybody There?" In it, John Adams sings about his commitment to the idea of American independence, and his vision for the nation's future. It's one of my favorite songs in the show, and there's a lyric that I always think about on July 4th:

I see


I see the Pageant and Pomp and Parade!

I hear the bells ringing out

I hear the cannons' roar!

Part of the reason I find this song so stirring is that much of it is taken from a letter that John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3rd, 1776:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. -- I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. -- Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

I hope that you'll join us tonight at 7:30 at Grimsley High School's football stadium as we celebrate Independence Day the way John Adams envisioned it.

How about a Freedom Power Walk?

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Have a thoughtful and wonderful Independence Day. And of course, happy birthday to Dolley Elm!

We’ve already had the first barbecue of the weekend and the dishes are yet to be clean. Once the kitchen is all tidied up, we’ll be preparing for tonight’s grill-fest before we calm down to watch fireworks with the rest of Greensboro.

Every time someone makes a comment about “the long weekend” I take a moment to appreciate those who are working this weekend, those who don’t have Monday off, and those who may even be cooped during the fireworks. I know that this weekend I’ll be trying to run errands, so I’m glad businesses will be open whenever they are. Even through the fog of this weekend’s sentiment of relaxation and contemplation of what independence means, the other things still make their way in—the dirty dishes, the errands here and there, and figuring out what to take to the next weekend get-together.

So, I’ll take a walk.

I’ll take some time for myself, some time to appreciate some open space. I’ll go in my old, old sneakers and think about the fact that I don’t even know where to start in looking for a new pair.

These were a fresh pair in, well, 2006.

When you think of Independence Day, do you sometimes think of “independence” more figuratively? Sometimes I use the New Year to set—here comes that 11-letter 4-letter word—resolutions. Sometimes I choose another “meaningful” day to reset those resolutions: Sundays (the first day of the week), Mondays (the first day of the work week), the first day of the month, the first day of Spring, Summer, and on and on. I always look for these good, clean breaks in time during the year to say, “Today, I’ll start.” Figuratively, I’ve found independence for mind and body, for my “resolution” to exercise, and I didn’t find this independence on the first of the month.

Rather, it was June 26th. On Saturday, June 26th, I participated in the Freedom Run downtown. Ok, ok, did the 2-Mile Red, White & Blue Fun Run & Walk. I quickly decided to participate since I had recently began registering for these active community events. I’m also pretty sentimental about American traditions like the 4th of July. I am no runner, and after my, oh, third “run,” I found that I’m no jogger, either. During my previous runs, I usually ended up seeing someone I know, someone else that didn’t run, and we’d socialize through the course. I also realized that no matter how much you are both only walking or jogging, everyone has a different pace, so it can sometimes get frustrating. All in all, we’d get a good morning walk and talk in and the runs were for a cause we were glad to support. But on June 26th, it was just me out there.

So I went at my own pace and that was pretty nice. Even out there “on my own” it was encouraging to be able to walk in all the space blocked off downtown and to walk with a large group of people. I often worried about being left behind as strollers began to pass me by, but often enough I straightened up my back, focused on the cityscape ahead and picked up speed. By the time I got back to the finish line, post-race festivities began but I didn’t worry too much. I did it!

Every day after the Fun Run & Walk, I found myself walking—power-walking, even! I realized that at my own pace (that is speedier nowadays) I feel the burn better and am much more relaxed. This has been a great addition to my current workouts. I have a sense of independence from place and time: I can pretty much walk wherever and whenever I want to! Now, I look forward to picking up the pace at future community runs and I definitely look forward to next year’s Fun Fourth run.

Hopefully by then, I’ll have a new pair of sneakers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Behind the Scenes - Part 4 - Street Festival Day

So it's 5pm on Saturday -- the Street Festival Day. We've been out here on the streets since 9am on Friday morning, with about a 5 hour break from 12:30-5:30am this morning. It's been a great couple of days. We have a stellar crew and amazing volunteers. The crafts are good, the entertainment phenomenal, and we've all managed to stuff ourselves with our favorite fair foods (although no one has jumped on that Deep Fried Butter that one of the vendors was selling).

We're happy with the success of the day, but I won't lie to you, we hit the wall at about 3pm and have been trying to get our second wind so we can go take down everything we spent all day yesterday putting up. We'll be finished getting everything off the streets by about 10pm and will be back tomorrow to take everything back to storage and set up for the Fireworks.

Ok -- I'm off to buy a pork chop sandwich and then hit the streets once again. We'll see you at the Fireworks tomorrow. Until then -- hope you had a funnel cake or polish sausage of your own!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Behind the Scenes - Part 3 - Expect the Unexpected

We're down to counting hours rather than days now -- hard to believe we're almost ready for you to arrive. As I write, I'm watching our crew load up all the stuff we store in our on-site headquarters at the Cultural Arts Center. After I post this, it'll be time for me to pack up the laptop and head on over myself.

In my last installment, I talked about the details of the Fun 4th that are critical to the success of the event. While "Where Are the Portajohns?" has become our mantra, our Rule #1 has become "Expect the Unexpected." Just a little reminder that we always have to be flexible and and be prepared to think on the fly. You never know what the Fun 4th will bring -- missing folks with Alzheimer's, folks who think that bringing their pet snakes to a festival with 60,000 people is a good idea, lost parents, heat stroke, rogue vendors -- and of course, there's always the possibility of an intense thunderstorm when you least desire it. Like during Festival take-down. When there's no way not to get soaking wet. When you don't have any clothes to change into. Those are the moments when you discover the depth of your creative think abilities -- and the versatility of a Fun 4th t-shirt when you get soaked to the skin.

Yep -- a 3XL Fun 4th t-shirt and a little imagination and you'll be good to go. Expect the Unexpected -- Rule #1 for the Fun 4th, and really, Rule #1 for life, too -- right?

Opening Night and Beyond

Tonight is opening night for the production of 1776! Tickets are available by calling the Carolina Theatre box office 333.2605 or online at carolinatheatre.com. What a great way to celebrate the July 4th weekend. 1776, Block Party, Parade, Street Festival and finish it off with some fireworks on Sunday at Grimsley High School.

We hope to see you at one or more of the events!!