Focus. Dedication. Determination.
These are words that may come to mind when you think about marathon runners. Maybe other words stand out more, maybe ones like ‘adaptability,’ ‘persistence,’ or ‘endurance.’
While most of us at Switch don’t actually run 26.2 miles at once, these words are all too familiar to us as we live these principles day in and day out. Like runners, we don’t have a lot of time to stop and take a break. In fact – we just don’t stop.
This year – as we do every year – we immediately hopped on a plane after Christmas to head to New York City and prepare for the world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. We returned in early January just to head out again, this time to Jefferson City, Missouri, to produce events for the inauguration of the state’s new governor.
While we may work through the holiday and come home just to head out again, we wouldn’t want it any other way. We pride ourselves on the hard work and dedication it takes to create such stunning events.
The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, for example, is the Olympic Gold Medal of what we’d call a “stunning event.” We’ve been a part of this celebration for about a decade, each year creating new content to display on the Budweiser LED board. This board is prominently placed on the building where the ball drops at 1 Times Square, and it’s seen by millions of people worldwide.
As you may expect, preparations for New Years Eve begin in October, when we start to create videos for the LED board. Once the videos are finalized and we head up to New York City after Christmas, we spend three to four full days programming and testing the content. Then, on New Year’s Eve, our “show” lasts all day long, starting at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Our show entails all-day programming, culminating with New York’s countdown – which links to a GPS satellite and resyncs every single second to ensure our countdown is 100 percent accurate.
Of course there are always obstacles we face for this event, including security, the sheer volume of people in the area and the press. But it’s truly an honor for us to take part in this every year. Switch’s manager of equipment rental, Ann Slayton, says it best: “As a kid I remember watching the ball drop so it’s a really cool experience to be out there and be a part of it now.”
In the midst of New Year’s Eve preparations, we received a call to produce events for the inauguration of Missouri’s new governor, Eric Greitens. The inauguration would be held on Jan. 9 and entail three different events: Honor our Missouri Heroes, the Inauguration Ceremony, and the Grand March/Salute to Service Inaugural Ball.
With less than a month to prepare, we did virtually everything to mark this historic day, save for hanging the flags, firing the artillery and flying the B-2 stealth bomber. We wrote scripts for the ceremonies, lit the Missouri State Capitol Building inside and out, placed LED screens indoors and outdoors, I-MAG’d and recorded events, brought in power, designed and built the stages, provided audio for 5,000 people (indoors and out), called the cues, arranged for audio and video feeds to all the press, provided a satellite hook-up for the press and even found Bibles. You name it, we did it.
But we didn’t just show up out of nowhere and put on this extraordinary show. This took weeks of planning, including ideation, budgeting and sharing our ideas with the Capitol staff, National Guard, Missouri State Police, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the press, and Greitens’ team. Once the plan was approved, logistically we had to figure out a number of things, including labor, generators, lifts, freight, equipment, schedules, hotels, seating, LED screen placement and more.
Oh, and one more thing. The day we arrived in Jefferson City to begin setting up, the temperature was -2 degrees. The day we loaded up to leave, we were faced with 50mph sustained wind gusts. The weather was not on our side and the winds could have severely damaged our equipment. Thankfully they didn’t.
Even facing the cold temperatures and wind gusts, we were able to pull off the shows without a hitch. In total there were roughly 4,000 people in attendance, in addition to those exposed through Facebook Live, television, traditional media and social media. The public took a particular interest in seeing the way we lit up the Missouri State Capitol Building. Posts were shared across social media and people were pulling off the side of the road to take pictures.
Although we are incredibly busy at the beginning of the year and can be seen working on event production at any given time of day, there’s one aspect that always shines through. It’s us. We are truly lucky to have such great, talented people on our team here at Switch. Not only are these folks talented, but they are also genuinely nice with a wealth of experience under their belts. When things get tough, we know how to improvise and stay focused on the task at hand. Because when that ball finally drops – or when we hear the roar of applause at the Governor’s inauguration – the marathon we just ran is worth it.