While the rest of Canada was either embarrassed or disappointed with the Vancouver Olympic Opening Ceremonies and the one lantern arm not rising, I was sitting at home wondering how the event coordinator and production crew must have been feeling about the hydraulics, knowing the world was watching.
Every event planner has problems here and there.....most of the time we are lucky and no one attending the event knows anything didn't go as planned, but when it happens on TV in front of an audience of millions, and is as obvious as this was, well all you can do is hope that they can forgive and forget and move on quickly, though they probably sweated about this incident for days.
I think the key to event planning is keeping a cool head and dealing with those troublesome "oops" in a calm and quiet manner. Having plans B, C and D is also very helpful but sometimes you plan B, C and D for all the wrong things - the things that have no problem.
I think every good event planner has a few sleepless nights or crazy dreams as their event draws nearer, whether it is one they have done annually or a first time event. The nerves are good though as they force you to look at the event from all angles and be sure that you have evaluated and planned as best as you can for the foreseeable problems, and hopefully that will eliminate most of the unforeseeables as well.
"Event planning is not a career for the faint of heart." I have seen this quote over and over in my training and courses and workshops and over the years I believe more and more in the truth of this, though I believe I appear more and more calm with each year of event planning - I am better at hiding what I am nervous about!
I would never advise anyone to attend an event and try to find the problems - you won't enjoy the event if you are looking for those tiny things, but I do tell people that next time they go to an event enjoy and appreciate the smallest and finest of details because they are far more significant and took far more time than most of us ever think about - we all assumed the arms would all rise in that Opening Ceremony....until it didn't happen! But did we think about the details that also would have gone into having the cauldron hydraulics on the floor - that there were no tripping hazards or any visible different to the floor in that area for the whole ceremony; that the fire would move up each arm; that the cauldron would "catch"....we assumed that that was all going to happen but the amount of hours that went into ensuring that all the things that DID work out is mind-boggling. To watch that Opening Ceremony and think about those details, well you sure end up feeling a lot more appreciation for the event than considering the one thing that unfortunately did not work out.
I hope those event planners have moved on and feel ok with their work because they did amazing work, even if there was one glitch that millions of people saw. It made the event unique and probably more memorable. My hearts go out to them but so do many kudos for the incredible job that they did do! I'd have been proud to have been part of such an amazing team but I'll save my talents for the upcoming events here at the Galt Museum & Archives - our Donor Recognition Event, Taste of Downtown, Eggstravaganza, and more!