IMAGINE ORGANIZING an event for nine months, working 14-hour days for the three weeks before the event, and then getting only three hours' sleep during the 33-hour event itself. Now imagine doing all this for free. For ISES member Molly McIntyre, it was a dream come true.
This altruistic exercise ensured Pope John Paul II's visit to St. Louis in January 1999 ran as smoothly as possible. McIntyre was part of the volunteer committee for the papal visit. The three-person team recruited and organized volunteers to staff every facet of the event-from parking lot attendants, concessions vendors and airport greeters to volunteers checking in other volunteers. "To help coordinate what will probably be the pope's last visit to North America was just wonderful-a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," McIntyre says. She adds that working on the event also helped her fulfill her certification requirement for the event management program she is taking at George Washington University.
The experience was definitely a crash-course in problem solving. When the first round of volunteer applications was distributed in the Catholic churches of St. Louis in November, the committee received only about 3,000 responses-4,000 short of the goal. "So we talked the St. Louis archdiocese into opening up the volunteer options to other archdioceses and ecumenical groups, even going into Illinois to tap their par-ishes," McIntyre says. Her team also used local radio and TV stations to recruit volunteers. In the end, all positions were filled.
McIntyre was touched by the overwhelming response from volunteers wanting to be a part of this special event. "People would cry when they found out they got the volunteer job they wanted," she says, "even if that meant staffing the parking lot late at night."
The pope spent 33 hours in St. Louis. His visit began with an arrival ceremony with President and Mrs. Clinton and included a mass at the TWA Dome for 104,000 people, a youth rally and motorcades. Security was a paramount concern. City, county and state police were involved, as well as the Secret Service, to prevent dangerous disruptions.
McIntyre's committee paid attention to security from the moment it processed the volunteer applications. It required a Social Security number, detailed address information and an emergency contact for each prospect. Out of the 7,000-plus volunteers, only one proved to be mildly disruptive, and McIntyre was able to have the individual removed before any problems developed.
One special group of volunteers managed to ensure lovely weather for the papal visit. The "pink sisters"-also known as the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, a local group of cloistered nuns who don rose-colored habits-helped out by praying for good weather. "And it worked," McIntyre says.
McIntyre is now senior event specialist at Saint Louis University. She gets paid regularly. -T.M.
Take A Good Look "Don't look just to see what trends are happening in this industry. Follow the fashion, style, transportation trends, techniques and gadgets being developed out in the world in general, and you'll get a better perspective on the trends that will shape special events in the 21st century."
MOVING UP Joey Galon is the new special event director at Desert Design Group Ltd. 2910 S. Highland Drive, Suites C & D, Las Vegas, NV 89109; 702/740-4210. t Deborah Wardrop has been named director of special events-corporate services for the National Football League. 280 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017; 212/450-2000. t Lynne Duncan, CMP, has joined EventWorks as event producer. 340 W. 131st St., Los Angeles, CA 90061; 323/321-1793. t Key Events Inc. has appointed Bridget Metcalfe as account executive and Chuck Feild as productions manager. 888 Brannan St., Suite 612, San Francisco, CA 94103; 415/487-9966. t The Washington Convention Center Authority has appointed Mari Ann Barta as director of event operations. 900 Ninth St. N.W., Washington, DC 20001; 800/368-9000, 202/789-1600. t Larry Smith is the new executive director at Your Event Solution Inc. 70 W. Park St., Buford, GA 30518; 888/937-9371, 770/945-2160.
BRANCHING OUT Nashville, Tenn.-based Munkeboe Party Linen Rentals has opened a branch office in Scottsdale, Ariz. 7755 E. Gelding Drive, Suite C-102, Scottsdale, AZ 85260; 480/483-6722. t Heidi Wyrick has started A Grand Affair, a corporate and social event production company. 13616 56th Ave. S.E., Everett, WA 98208; 425/483-7371. t Taylor Rental Center of Mount Laurel and Burlington, N.J., a division of Fisherents Inc., has acquired Cinnaminson, N.J.-based East Coast Tent Rental Inc. 3531 Route 38, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054; 609/235-6117. t John Murray Productions Inc. has purchased Western Scenic Studios. 1196 32nd St., Oakland, CA 94608; 510/594-2080. t Levy Restaurants has entered a five-year agreement to provide food and beverage service at Navy Pier, Chicago. 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; 312/595-5100. t Activities Inc. has launched Meeting Dimensions, a meeting and production company. 53 Pennington Hopewell Rd., Pennington, NJ 08534-3613; 609/466-4100.
Mea Culpa Our March issue failed to include a credit for Charlotte Downs with Premier Convention Services, designer of The Special Event '99 opening night party. Her company is based in Orlando, Fla.; 407/532-1365.