If anybody is going to have an exciting meeting, it should be the members of Meeting Professionals International, the group devoted to creating interesting, fun, exciting, and stimulating meetings for others. The organization managed to do just that July 22-24, when approximately 3,500 of its members went to Las Vegas for its 2001 World Education Congress. With a keynote speech by actor Danny Glover, the tone was set for a glittery event.

MPI's members stayed at the Venetian Hotel and Casino, but they played at Mandalay Bay, where the event's kickoff party was held on July 22. The highlight of the event was a six-and-a-half-minute light/laser/pyro show that climaxed the evening. According to Gary Evans of Light America, provider of lighting equipment for the show, “The party was held at Mandalay Bay's open beach venue. They've got a pool with a sandy beach and a wave-making machine. It was the biggest party at Mandalay Bay so far.”

Describing the scene, Evans says, “They had the entire beach area turned into pockets of fun--with food and cocktails plus entertainers, jugglers, fortune tellers. You strolled around from entertainment to entertainment. After Hall and Oates played for an hour, we did our presentation.” To create the event, Evans worked with Terry Ritts of Pirates Pyrotechnics and YLS Lasers.

The event was cued to SMPTE time code, with a medley of five different pop tunes providing the soundtrack. For lighting, adds Evans, “We furnished 24 Space Cannon 7,000W lighting fixtures, which surrounded the pool area.” In addition, Evans says he used 12 Focus lights, the 1,200W architectural searchlight from Space Cannon. The unit is a short-arc luminaire designed to be used in tough environments. “We used Glow Tubes on them,” says Evans, adding, “they're acrylic 6' tubes that fit onto the Focus fixtures. If you take the tube off the Focus fixtures, you can light the side of a building, but the Glow Tube condenses the light into the tube.” He adds that the Glow Tube is increasingly one of Light America's most popular items. “We even used them on top of the Rio Hotel, when [the rock group] Creed came to town and played on top of the Rio. People are using them in out-of-the-box ways.”

The show was, he says, “a completely choreographed, SMPTE-coded show with lasers, lighting, and pyro.” All three companies provided design assistance, he adds. A big challenge, apparently, was the load-in, which took place over the course of two and a half days. “The beach pool is a popular spot,” says Evans. “We had to load in over the rocks of the pool area while the guests were there swimming and having a good time.” The entire show was controlled through the Wholehog II console from Flying Pig Systems. The programmer was David Schultz.

It's not lost on Evans that the show was performed in front of a very special audience. “It was everybody who might hire us for an event worldwide,” he says. With any luck, Light America should soon be showing off its stuff in situations all around the world.