A nostalgic evening aboard the `Mighty Mo' THE USS MISSOURI, site of the Japanese surrender ceremony ending World War II, took on a new role in May as the site of "Stars at Sea Starring `Mighty Mo' and a Cast of Amex Stars," an incentive event for participants in a sales achievement conference.
Three years before the event, Nancy Jacobs, president of Minneapolis-based Design Group, found that the battleship soon would be dry-docked at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu as a memorial. Working with the USS Missouri Memorial Association and contracting with Hawaiian vendors, she planned an event that used the historic venue to its fullest, incorporating USO-themed entertainment and patriotic decor to entertain more than 3,400 guests.
The Missouri was open to the public until 5 p.m. each day of the multiple-day installation, including the day of the event, so Design Group knew it "had to make sure we weren't infringing on the [public] guests," Jacobs says. "We also knew that we had to preserve the sanctity and reverence of the ship and at the same time give our clients an incredible party!"
As event guests entered the gates of the pier, they came upon the huge, dramatically lit battleship, with its rails bedecked in red, white and blue bunting. Welcomed with mai tais and fresh-cut fruit, guests were invited to sample buffets stationed on the pier and on the ship featuring everything from traditional Hawaiian dishes to Japanese-style fare. Volunteers from the Memorial Association greeted guests as they boarded the ship and gave them maps for a self-guided tour. While aboard, they were able to view the area where the Japanese surrender ceremony took place.
Continuing the patriotic theme, tables were dressed in blue satin with red organza overlays. Underneath the sheer overlays were copies of vintage ads and "Life" magazine covers so authentic that members of the public visiting the ship "thought they were fantastic souvenirs," Jacobs notes. Entertainment included three-piece Hawaiian bands on the ship and a USO-themed show on the pier, opening with a big band and closing with a dance band.
Transporting guests from their hotels to the venue during rush hour presented a logistical challenge. Sixty buses from Honolulu-based SuperStar Hawaii Transit Service were guided through downtown Waikiki with the assistance of 49 police escorts. "The transportation was flawless," Jacobs says.