ON JULY 30, THE RED WING SHOE Company in Red Wing, MN, celebrated a coveted benchmark among an international retail community — 100 years of continuous business. Red Wing not only boasts ten decades of maintaining a company's growth and expansion, but also the nurturing of the surrounding community from which the company draws its name.
Many outside companies were considered for the task of producing a celebration for the momentous event, but when the dust settled, two collaborating Minnesota companies, Linda Dobson Events in cooperation with Rob Mishica and Mara Wallach of The Crea8tive Collaboration Gang, had been selected as the team to create the Celebration for the Century. After having successfully tackled events including the Olympic Ceremonies, Walt Disney's EPCOT “Illuminations,” international galas for royalty, and clients that include General Mills, Edina Realty, and a host of local benefits, the team was well prepared to deliver an experience commensurate with the historical significance of the 100-year milestone. Both companies agreed to keep the details of the event secret until show time, and are only now explaining the event's details.
A year and a half was spent assembling and managing more than 200 vendors and individual artisans, most being native Red Wingers, to provide an evening that would salute the heritage and pride of the company. The plan was to create a 75' peacock fantail water screen in the middle of the tightest bend in the Mississippi River, and project over 18 minutes of graphics, animation, and pictorial documentation that would float almost magically six stories high over the river's summer currents. The water screen was designed and assembled by Mirage Water Works of Anaheim, CA, on an 18'×48' adapted crane barge that included a 454-cubic inch marine engine driving a proprietary pump delivering over 2,000 gallons per minute into a flat rear-projectable surface of aerated river water. Team members Scott and Ben Ritt lived on this barge night, day, and during the performance without as much as an umbrella. Talk about dedication: Ben worked non-stop on an un-casted broken leg.
Four DPL 15SX 12,000 Ansi-lumen projectors were stacked, manned, and maintained on the Wisconsin shoreline. Routed to switching, high-definition, and beta camera equipment for delivery of imagery both hard wired and microwaved to the screen, video systems specialist Nathanial Damron of Damron Productions nailed the show and all SMPTE wireless design. The screen itself was then bordered with state-of-the-art lighting created by Matt Tucker Lighting Design and Theatrical Media Services. Instruments used to highlight the screen, surrounding water, atmosphere, and a natural backdrop of trees lining the Wisconsin side of the river included six 7000W Syncrolites and back-ups, 24 High End Systems x.Spots, and 36 Studio Beams. DMX was programmed wirelessly with a MA Lighting grandMA console. Two 40W Yag lasers were incorporated for spatial enhancement. The instruments had to be transported and mounted on over 250' of construction scaffolding 10' above the water line.
RES pyrotechnics team Erv Haman and Tracy Vanasek loaded the water screen barge and two 18'×48' flat barges flanking the screen for ground level and mid-aerial effects. A special staging area was cleared in the Wisconsin woods behind the barges that provided the ability to launch over 900 shells in the 75-second grand finale that included 12" pyro shots purchased in Japan. The sound system, provided by Peter Skudjins and Brain Klingenberg of Slammhammer Audio, was comprised of two Martin main array towers, back stacks and front fill, totaling over 60 individual cabinets.
Located in Bay Point Park and programmed using a Tascam D78 multi-track chasing Sennheiser 100 and 300 wireless transmitted time code, Slammhammer's equipment delivered a chest-rumbling yet intimate five-point surround sound generating over 76,000W of audio for nearly 5,000 invited attendees.
All of this capped with the unwavering schedule of a five-person graphics team headed by artist Mike Owens and his project partner Scott Berglund. (Owens is the artist behind the Lucky Charms Leprechaun as well as the Snap, Crackle, and Pop characters). Over 1,500 hours were spent generating storyboards and the final presentation product. All systems chased a single SMPTE time code signal, both hard-wired and wireless on both shores, using Sennheiser 100 and 300 wireless transmission systems. Power on both shores came from eight Zeigler generators delivering over 650,000W. All individual elements thrived with synchronicity under the direction of Paul Trittelwitz, overall event technical director.
The attendees of this private party witnessed this spectacular only after being delighted in a 110'×348' Skyway tent by a dance presentation choreogrpahed by Colleen McClellan. The 40-minute show was highlighted by poignant videos created by Red Wing's own chief pilot, Chappie Achen, following emotional addresses by both Bill Sweasy, who's family created the Red Wing Shoe Company, and company president and CEO Dave Murphy.
Finally, the dance production needed a backdrop as extraordinary as the event itself. It was decided to develop an 18'×36' custom mural of Red Wing Shoe's 100-year history. This task was accepted by The Cre8tive Collaboration Gang's co-owner and the show's co-producer, Mara Wallach. The mural was comprised of collaged images that totaled over 33.5 million pixels and 40 gigabytes of digital information, consuming more than 430 hours of assembly time by both Wallach and the team at PressWrite Printing. Initially constructed in 6' panel parcels and computer blended into 6'×36' lengths, then stitch seamed into the final product, records are now being checked as this may be the largest single high-resolution computer document ever created. Software giant Adobe was so amazed at the undertaking that they are checking their own records.
Sometimes, it really is all about the shoes.