Since Halloween is not for off we thought we would share a few event horror stories with you. Hopefully you will get a chuckle and maybe even learn a lesson or two.
The truth is if you plan and produce events long enough, eventually something is bound to go wrong. It happens to the best of us. Thankfully most mistakes don’t end up in people being injured, but it’s always good to learn from the mistakes of others before you make your own.
I can remember one outdoor event on New Year’s eve. Thousands of people attended, a band played on the main stage and we had planned a countdown to midnight with a huge clock high above the river. 3 mins before midnight the thickest fog I have ever seen rolled in. You could not see your hand in front of your face much less the clock that took months to coordinate.
Here are a few horror stories shared by event pros all over. Our thanks to all of them.
- I had a wedding on a lake a few years ago for which I was doing day-of coordination only. The ceremony was on the other side of the lake and the most efficient way to reach the ceremony site was via boat. Driving was an option but a good 20 minutes or so. Though I had told the client in case of inclement weather, the outdoor option could be risky as not only were they encouraging guests to take the boat but we were not allowed inside the house itself. Needless to say, it poured rain as the ceremony began. There were 75 people waiting without cars, except for the few vendors, and the two boats were not allowed to operate when lightning was in the area. So between myself and the caterer and one guest who happened to drive, we transported all 75 guests on the 20 minute trek to the reception hall. I was later credited by the groom during toasts at the reception acknowledging that I had suggested a plan B and they declined thinking it wouldn’t rain on their big day.
- I was due to arrive in Austin, TX on Labor Day a few years ago to begin set up for our largest annual event. At 11pm the Friday before, the phone rings and its a co-worker calling to tell me that due to Hurricane Katrina, the convention center in Austin was cancelling our space for a technology fair, as they needed the space for displaced people! Now, who am I to argue with that? People needed a place to stay, and that was definitely more important than my event, however, I had 800 people expecting to see the latest and greatest technology, and 80+ vendors who paid to display their wares! After 2 hours of rush phone calls, we were on our way to Austin the next day, and by the end of the day Sunday had a new location (across town) for a three hour portion of a 4 day event.
- A client was hosting a holiday house party for and just 2 days before they brought home a new puppy. They let their new puppy careen through the Christmas-party crowd as show how cute he was. One guest avoided stepping on the pup only to crash face first against a wall. He wound up covered in the cup of hot chocolate he happened to have in hand. Another woman found out the unfortunate way, that the puppy wasn’t housebroken. She slid on a pile of poo, wobbled briefly in her high heels, hip-checked another guest, and landed with a floor-shaking thud.
- It was a school Halloween party. Joshua was decked out in a killer zombie costume and it was time for the costume judging. The young zombie stood in front of the judges and crowd and was overcome with dry heaves and nausea, so much so that he began sobbing between wretches. People cheered at the sight of the groaning, crying, wobbling, retching zombie completely impressed with the authentic zombie performance. He won the contest all with a case of food poisoning.