Day 5 was last night and as I am sure that most of your saw on the news, one of the main sections of the stage completely collapsed. No I am not hurt thankfully, but 4 of my fellow half time show volunteers are -- and that's very sad...this is how this very strange day shaped up....
First I knew it was a bad omen when my daughter sent me a text at 11 am telling me that she's sick and needs to be picked up. Now, normally I would be OK with stopping all that I do and help my children but you have no idea (or maybe you do) of ALL that I am doing right now. I have no time to spare and realized that when I caught myself texting while using the restroom and doing work for clients while at stop lights. Yes, crazy I tell you.
Next I realized that my late afternoon client meeting would require a better outfit than a half time show rehearsal outfit -- which is normally a warm up suit or jeans -- so I had to plan a "car change". This is not something that I have done in like 20 years when I used to go out on a friend's boat after work all summer. Then stupidly I downed a huge diet coke right before hitting the Turnpike to Miami and hit a huge traffic jam which was because a car that had caught on fire -- and I passed the only rest stop from Boca to Sun Life stadium while talking on the phone (of course). Hmmmm, that means car change for sure (I finally had the bright idea of stopping at the rest stop and changing but that came and went...literally) and it also means that I have to use a -- drum roll please -- port-a-potty. Yikes! I haven't used one since I had to at SunFest last year and that was the only other time in about 5 years, thankfully. Oh well, things could get worse -- and they do, just wait.
So after pulling in to our special gate at the stadium I make a beeline for the farthest parking space possible where there is no traffic. Changing in the car was not too big a deal, so glad that I lost all that weight last year though...my clothes actually are loose fitting now. After no line upon check in I promptly headed to the -- drum roll please -- port-a-potty bank that they set up for all of us. I tried to select the one that looked least used, a real trick from the outside, and did just OK. After holding my breath for the entire time and almost passing out, I thought that if they can put people in space, make an artificial heart, invent the Ipad (what a ridiculous name, right?! Must have been a guy to not really get that this is one name to stay away from!), then why the heck can't we develop a better portable toilet system than just a huge hole where you can view all of the "stuff" (you know exactly what I mean here). There has to be someone out there that can work on this...please for goodness sakes!
OK, the washing stations were good so at least I felt somewhat less polluted. I selected another box lunch - roast beef - and sat down again in an open spot on the bleachers. My crew mate Dave saw me and got his box and joined me.
Cap just had to speak, in length, again and it was another train story. I am seeing a theme here and know that he wants us to act like a train that keep pace with each other -- and is really pounding it into our head. The great thing is that my concept of cutting the whale-tails all down in width was done. They were all now eight inches narrower. This will make our docking and sliding up and down so much easier. Cap didn't mention that a volunteer suggested this idea, which I am sure they thought about earlier, but oh well - we both know who had the idea ;) And no this had nothing to do with the collapse of the center stage.
The center stage parts had been loaded up with The Who's equipment. A drum set, speakers, and other tarped items. This is really what, we think, caused the topple of the piece. It was terrible top heavy and the practice field is not that level. We heard that they hit a storm drain, which had been marked with bright orange spray paint, but our roadie said that they didn't. We think that the weight was too much for the little wheels. Yes, I have another suggestion for Cap but am not sure that last night, amid the turmoil (and I am certain headaches for him and his team) it was the appropriate time to tell him my latest idea. I told Steve, our union roadie, and he agreed: Larger wheels. They really need to weld on a larger castor and wheel to handle the load and height. Simple engineering logic here. Those tiny wheels that our whale tails have just don't work for the tall top heavy carts. Our pieces are long and wide with the weight on a bottom shelf - low center of gravity. Those are tall, top heavy and really need more stability on the bottom. Sounds kind of simple, right? Let's hope they fixed them today.
We were called my cart again and my team was already out in front of the bleachers by the time that Marcus called us -- only he skipped us and we joked that he doesn't like our cart. We quickly walked with Steve to our cart and -- not surprisingly -- stood around. I had my son find a mascot for us which is quite appropriately a mule. But, I forgot it in all of the craziness of the day.
Rehearsal began and we assembled in the practice field. Surprisingly it was not that wet or cold. Just a little muggy and really a nice night...until the horrible accident happened. We had just completed one rehearsal and the radials were out and we were all waiting on the center to make it out of the practice field so we could do yet another run. As we all were watching them move across the practice field a center piece fell completely forward, screams were heard and most of us started running to help the wounded. Very quickly, in like 5 seconds, they pulled the stage up and off of anyone who was hit by a part. We received an update that the 4 injured are home from the hospital and will be fine. Not sure what their injuries were but tonight I should find out more. When this happened my heart stopped, I felt very sick (that may have been the bad, soggy roast beef sandwich) and just prayed that they were not completely crushed under that thing. Tears began but I held back after getting close and seeing that the injured were moving their legs and were not bent at odd angles or bleeding - whew! Many people that were near were just so upset and kind of flipping out. The entire fleet of Sun Life stadium emergency vehicles came in: a couple of ambulances, fire trucks, police, fire rescue, etc. It was a field of flashing lights. By this time they told us via the mic to get into the bleachers and out of the way. They then said a helicopter will be air lifting the four people to the hospital and not to be scared since it is landing right near us. That was quite a sight to see - I just would love to see the inside of that helicopter with it's emergency equipment, etc. -- as a spectator and NOT someone who needs to ride in the thing to the hospital mind you. Those pilots and helicopter doctors and nurses are hero's I tell you! Paramedics are hero's also. Don't get me going on how much I respect people doing that emergency work - and I think I can't sleep at night! One of my ex-bosses, who I love (Ann!), told me once: "It's OK, you're not saving lives here"...geeze if I really were then I would be a basket case. I get upset if one small thing doesn't work the way that I planned out for my clients, so I can't imagine actually saving lives!
When that huge event passed we were told to return to our carts and to help line them up outside the practice field. Of course they were calling for all people that witnessed it close and many pictures, etc. were being taken. I am sure that this will be a huge liability thing for at least a year. Our roadie said that it was "bad karma" and that he wonders if The Who would want to go up on that stage now - with all of it's bad karma. We'll see how this all works out. We did hear The Who rehearse already so that's a good thing.
The end of the night was sad. We all just kind of moped to our cars and thought that perhaps the next night, tonight, will be a bit happier -- and more successful. A staggering fact is that the largest Super Bowl half time stage to date has been 6,000 square feet -- our stage is 16,000 square feet. Now just imagine that we not only have something almost triple in size but we have 4 times more pieces and just the same amount of time:
5 minutes and 54 seconds to get the entire 16,000 sq. ft. set up and then another 5 minutes and 54 seconds to get it all broken down -- including time it takes to get it in and out of the field.
That's a little mind boggling, don't you agree?
I'm off (again) to Sun Life stadium and really not looking forward to another box lunch. Just tonight and then tomorrow is dress rehearsal with The Who. Ahhhh, yes, this too will all pay off in the end I hope. I also am making great new friends and business contacts. The production company: White Cherry Productions, is huge and multi-faceted, it's all good.
Now we just have to pray that there are no more accidents...look for my day 6 update tomorrow!