The French-theme of the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show coordinates with the projects I am working on with April's Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). In an effort to get into the "Paris" frame of mind, and to expand my horizons, I decided to experience the show from four unique and different perspectives.
Ever since moving to Philadelphia in the 90s, I have attended the show on and off with my mother — a crafter and floral designer. As an event planner, a public relations practitioner, a community garden volunteer, and the son of a designer, the show has always been of special interest to me.
The flower show is, indeed, one of the largest "signature" events that Philadelphia hosts each and every year. During the show, I find great inspiration for new ideas, tactics and execution methods for events and campaigns. The creativity of some of the booths always inspires me to think out of the box and push boundaries. Outside of the professional implications, I am a food lover who has always been drawn to the tasty samples — never leaving without my fill of vinegars, oils, dips, spreads, cheeses and other tasty treats!
With the announcement of the theme for 2011, and the tie-in with PIFA, I decided to elevate my particiation this year — and experience the show from four unique perspectives:
- Media/PR Representative: The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – Philadelphia Chapter solicited volunteers to work the media area. As a PRSA member, I replied instantly to work the media area on Tuesday, March 8, 2011. I also recruited others to lend a hand. This is a great way to work on the large-scale event and utilize my professional skills. For my less-experienced colleagues, this would provide a great opportunity to work with other public relations professionals and promote a large-scale event.
- Botanical Volunteer: A short posting on Facebook provided me with the second way to get involved. A friend was seeking botanical volunteers to assemble one of the exhibits for MODA Botanical. MODA had won best in show for the past two years — and they needed help for another win in 2011. On Friday, March 4, 2011, I started my flower show "experience" by helping MODA Botanical assemble their award-winning display. They had won "Best in Show" for two years in a row — and they needed help to execute their new design. I was never a fan of actually touching dirt, bugs and flowers, just raising funds to support them! My former boss at Capital District Community Gardens verified this with her e-mail that said, "Touch plants! Who are you!?" However, in the effort find new ways to experience life, I was more than happy to place hundreds of roses in the glass tubes to create the exhibit. It was amazing to see the behind-the-scenes-work that goes into a display. In exchange, I received a personal and up-close glimpse at all the other booths and exhibits as they were being constructed.
- Ambassador: A former colleague at Philadelphia Senior Center was organizing the front line ambassadors and greeters. She was seeking additional support. I signed up to greet visitors during tonight's "GLBT Monday Night Out."
- Visitor/Guest: The fourth and final way to experience the show presented itself in a last-minute call from my family. They decided to take a last-minute trip from New York. Together, we could attend the show in our traditional capacity as consumers.
The Philadelphia International Flower Show runs until Sunday, March 13, 2011. I highly recommend you stop by for a visit. While you are busy enjoying the Eiffel Tower, the award-winning exhibits, and the French-themed entertainment, think about how YOU can become more than just a guest for 2012. If you stop by during one of my shifts, make sure to say hello. Finally, don't forget to mark your calendars for Philadelphia's next "trip" to France during PIFA, starting April 7, 2011.
UPDATE: There is good news — and there is bad news! I was told that the MODA exhibit won a ribbon — and they were the featured exhibit on the front-page of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. On the downside, a guest walked into the exhibit area and knocked down one of the walls during pre-show activities on between Saturday and Sunday. After recreating the exhibit, another person during a private event knocked down the display again. I understand it is up and running again, with security being provided from their beautiful pink mirrors. Make sure to check it out in the Inquirer and at the show! (Photo by Bailey Hale.)