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The Big Time: Secrets of Managing Huge Events

The Big Time: Secrets of Managing Huge Events

This past weekend has seen some mega special events, from the Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles on Sunday—at 3,600 guests, the largest annual banquet, promoters say—to, bigger still, the "Restoring Honor" rally on Saturday, which brought an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 attendees to the Lincoln Memorial in downtown Washington.

Managing huge events is an art unto itself, but when such events take place in public spaces and bring the potential for protests—as did the "Restoring Honor" rally, led by conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck--the stakes are even higher.


Staging the event at the Lincoln Memorial meant that the event team from Washington-based CSI Capitol Services Inc. had to coordinate with a dozen different jurisdictions, notes senior operations manager Kelley Gillespie. A year-long planning process included myriad details such as training 700 volunteers, coordinating 1,000 "official" event busses and providing 75,000 bottles of water.

Key to the rally's success, Gillespie says, was CSI's planning document: a 50-page logistical analysis of the event. And the event was a success: There was not a single arrest, "and the police were happy," she notes. "There were so many things that could have gone wrong that didn’t, because we had that [planning] foundation."

For the full story on managing huge events, including the giant Amway incentive gala staged by EventWorks, see the September-October issue of Special Events.

Photo by Washington Talent Photo & Video


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