IT'S NOT EVERY day that Sarah Winkler, vice president and senior producer for Baltimore-based P.W. Feats, is asked to throw a parade for a 100th birthday party. Yet that's just what was needed to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Crayola crayons, which for a century have been made in Easton, Pa., by Binney & Smith. The October event was the culmination of a yearlong celebration that included a special party for the company's 1,100 employees. When it came to the parade, however, Binney & Smith “really wanted to thank the folks of the town where they had been for 100 years, and to really let the community be a part of it,” Winkler explains.
As planning progressed, color and community became the predominant themes of the parade. Keeping in mind Crayola's reputation as a family brand, P.W. Feats put out a call to the community, inviting people to come up with costume ideas that would highlight the eight original Crayola crayon colors. P.W. Feats also took on the task of creating six floats to mark milestones in Crayola's history, such as a 1970s themed float — covered in fluorescent flowers and replete with riders dressed in '70s attire — to commemorate the introduction of fluorescent crayons in 1972. The results were colorful, not to mention sizeable: In the end, 130 units comprising 3,000 people marched in the parade.
As fun as the theme of the event was, organizing 3,000 people who were not professional parade participants presented its challenges. “We literally chalked off four parking lots with the spot where every single person [in the parade] would stand,” Winkler laughs. “We had other folks with bullhorns and golf carts who were in charge of pulling them out of the staging areas and putting them in place at the appropriate time.” All of this had to be accomplished quickly, as participants had to be in place by 9:45 a.m. for a 10:30 a.m. start.
The grand finale of the centennial celebration was an elaborate stage show introducing four newly created crayon colors and the unveiling of the World's Largest Crayon, an 8-foot-tall, 1,500-pound scale replica made from crayon nubs. It was a great beginning to the next 100 years of Crayola's history, Winkler says. “Everyone was waiting for it, and it was just a fun final moment.”
P.W. Feats 1540 Russell Street, Baltimore, MD 21230; 410/727-5575; www.pwfeats.com