100-year Anniversary Celebration
by Melanie Parker
In July 2008, I was approached by a dear friend and former employee, to help in producing a 100-year Anniversary Celebration for Hughes Christensen, formerly Baker Hughes. This celebration was of paramount importance with not only local employees attending but also international employees and customers from around the world.
The planning process began over lunch and it was made clear that we would be competing with another local event planning company within the Houston area. Understand that I enjoy a good competition and had every intention of securing this business with Hughes Christensen. Hughes Christensen has a large primary campus here in The Woodlands, our hometown and backyard, and I needed to convince our potential customer that we were the obvious choice to plan this event; after all, we are neighbors.
Over the next several weeks, I worked on preparing a formal proposal that consisted of ideas ranging from event entrance details, dining tent, main stage entertainment, side stage entertainment, strolling performers and children’s activities, and finally a multitude of hospitality stations and bars. This particular event had every single event element one could possibly imagine – this was going to be fun!
Once my formal proposal was prepared, I presented it to the Hughes Christensen committee of about 10 professionals. Our proposal was met with a very positive response, along with some question and answer opportunities, and finally we were awarded the business we had worked so hard to obtain.
Over the course of the next year, many meetings were held, site visits made, budget finessing and food tastings were all a part of the process as we approached event day.
The event occurred in April 2009 at The Woodlands Hughes Christensen campus, perhaps five miles from our warehouse and kitchen; a hop, skip and jump away making our company an even more obvious choice for this event. We were 100% committed to outperforming any of our competition and the close proximity to the event site was an added bonus!
As we approached event day, it became clear that we were going to face some weather issues. As the Hughes Christensen committee debated on whether or not to postpone the event, we trudged forward in keeping with our promise, rain or shine. It was finally decided to keep the original event date and roll with the weather punches come as they may…and boy did they come! The weather forecast was 100% rain and we experienced every single inch of the wet weather. The weather didn’t deter the guests, thank goodness! All 1500 attendees showed up in their rain gear and galoshes to celebrate this once in a lifetime 100-year Anniversary Celebration!
We created a unique entrance with an international theme that would welcome all guests from across the world. Sixty international flags, each flag representing a country where Hughes Christensen conducts business, flanked our main entrance. Fun carnival music could be heard from surrounding speakers as guests made their way to the celebration, umbrellas in hand.
For an event of this magnitude, we brought together a number of different vendors to fulfill our needs. Paparazzi actors greeted and entertained guests along the entrance where guests were photographed and interviewed. The Kelly McGuire Band took the stage for some music and dancing while the younger crowd enjoyed magic shows, caricature artists, face painters and moon walks. The event site was large which allowed us to really create an open atmosphere for adults and children alike to enjoy the festivities without feeling like they were bumping into one another. There was something for everyone to enjoy!
Four internationally themed food stations were created; Mediterranean, the Orient, Latin America and Texas American. In addition, four concession tents were placed sporadically around the event site offering novelty items such as popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones and Blue Bell Ice Cream – a Texas favorite! We had the good fortune to have space to create a large on site kitchen to facilitate our needs; hot food stayed hot, cold food stayed cold.
While everything is seemingly going well, we were faced with not only the challenges of the weather and keeping things as dry as possible, but our client requested that all walkways and guest standing or sitting areas be covered with tenting. At the last minute, we erected approximately twelve 10 x 10 and 20 x 20 tents to provide shelter for the guests. Comfort Station restrooms were secured for the event, only to remain locked for the duration because the attendants could not get to the event due to the weather. Even the generators were tripping.
An event just wouldn’t be an event without some type of challenge. After all, the challenges are what make us stronger and defines the professional. How one deals with the unexpected, the unintentional and the “you just can’t even imagine” scenarios helps to create character in us all.
Despite the wind and rain, the event was a smashing success and thoroughly enjoyed by one and all! Our team hit a home run in the eyes of our customer and we have been welcomed back for a number of events at Hughes Christensen.
We thank our wonderful clients at Hughes Christensen for their confidence in us to take care of such a special, once in a lifetime, event.