Special Events

Confetti: Stopping Times Square

Monsters invaded New York's Times Square in March.

The invading army-really a parade-celebrated the video release of the Warner Bros. film "Pokemon: The First Movie." Pokemon-short for "pocket monsters"-are popular Japanese characters in children's video games and trading cards.

Northridge, Calif.-based Paradigm Shift Worldwide produced the parade, which featured a dance troupe of 50 girls dressed as videotape boxes and an 85-member marching band. The parade started at 44th Street and Broadway and ended at the Warner Bros. Studios Store at 42nd Street and Broadway in Times Square.

To make room for the procession, the Paradigm team arranged to redirect Tuesday morning rush-hour traffic. "Closing down Times Square is a very difficult thing to do," says Dan Kough, president of event marketing. "There are many levels of red tape."

To cut through that tape in similar situations, Kough recommends creating a detailed plan to present to fire marshals, the police and other authorities. "Follow up with them consistently and get everything in writing, with a signature," he says.

A giant "Poke Ball"-the home of Pokemon characters-formed the parade's central element. Paradigm custom-built the 8-foot diameter globe, using a steel structure covered in fiberglass and hinged in the middle with a hydraulic top that opened automatically.

When the parade arrived in front of the Warner Bros. Studios Store, the ball opened amid a pyro and smoke display to reveal the popular Poke-mon character Pikachu. "We had these special effects built into the ball," Kough explains. Modeled after the film's imagery, the pyro represented the energy a Pokemon emits when it leaves its home.

To ensure no one would be endangered by the pyro, Paradigm had choreographed the dance troupe to stay 15 feet away from the ball, while barricades kept onlookers away. The team had only one chance to rehearse the lid opening before the event. "That's the nature of live theater," Kough says. "We can't always rehearse as much as we want." -T.M.

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