How long can you hold your breath? Or maybe, how long can you go without sleep? Those are important questions when you take on an order like we just completed for the Vancouver Club this past weekend. I ask myself sometimes whether I’m actually getting more stressed by these kinds of events than less. Any way you look at it, it was an ice extravaganza!
The first call came 4 weeks before due date. Can we meet? I love this client. They are professional and fair and just all round nice to work with. But they can be last minute. We did their fall event last year and it was BIG. This year would prove to be even bigger. Their theme was “rain” (no doubt as much a take on our October Vancouver weather as Prince’s Purple Rain). And to make it a real extravaganza we were asked to contribute ice sculptures to all of the five floors except one. In particular, the front entry and vestibule would showcase the theme as depicted by ice.
Now think Harold. What can we draw on from past successes and what can we come up with that’s new and innovative? The first of a couple of sleepless nights and we had it; a centerpiece U-shaped ice bar showcasing cityscapes and the New Amsterdam vodka bottle empire state building in particular as well as two ice curtained walls that would provide the passage way for all the guests to go through upon entering the Club. To make the bar even more thematic we would add a rain feature to the front so that you would see the array of skyscrapers through actual rain. Then, as though that wasn’t already glamour at its finest, we drew up a design for 58 feet of seafood and desert station on other floors. And more.
The next question in all about capacity and time. I’ve learned the hard way to be prepared for these last minute affairs. So about 35 blocks… and three weeks of 18 hour days… that should take care of the two most important ingredients. Valerie was indispensable to me throughout building the rain feature and devising drip trays to satisfy the curved seafood design. I couldn’t help remember those first few bigger events we did 10 years ago before we knew how to budget out time and resources. Sooo much more stress then. Even now though, I was unnerved to discover pieces of the plan on the last day that would have turned into major “foo paws” at delivery had we not found them and addressed them.
Then came delivery day. We’ve learned to break it up into the hardware set up stage and the actual ice delivery stage. And as always, family and friends stepped up to the plate. What would I do without my kids? So much encouragement, and so many willing hands. From little things like help with driving to making lunch to lending vehicles and then most importantly manpower, lots of it. It took over 20 hours to execute with the last stage being take down after 1:00 in the morning. There’s always last minute wrinkles to big jobs and this was no exception. So much of what we do comes down to trusting your ability to problem solve in the moment. Like; what do you do when the door through which you’ve planned to move all your ice is blocked by a massive stage? Or, what do you do when the floor plan to which you’ve built your seafood display has changed? Breathing is a good place to start. There’s always a way, it just needs to be found. And then we got down to work. It has come to amaze me (and please me) when we pack up the last of the tools right on schedule. Three weeks of planning comes down to this. You CANNOT be late and we weren’t. Now, quickly, once more through the entire building taking pictures so that we can show and tell for weeks to come. As we left the Club to the start-up sounds of the band and dancers on the front stage outside we felt what can only be described as elation.
Even food tastes different when it’s all over. We sat down the four of us at White Spot to debrief and high five (again). More breathing… It’s not over till it’s over as this big an order needs to be serviced over the course of the evening. We did that, making sure the rain feature was working and everything was dripping where it’s supposed to drip. You get to know and appreciate so many teams of people working behind the scenes to create a successful experience. Decorators, sound people, lighting specialists, chefs and waiters etc etc. And they were all there to disassemble their hard work when it was over. Packed elevators, loading trucks and a beehive of workers returning the Vancouver Club to its innocent grandeur. Then, finally, we crawled into bed at 4:30am , still breathing and began to sleep our way back to normal. WE DID IT! High five!
Thank you for reading! Until next time…#theicemen