Archive | June, 2013

Pops ups the security 4 the 4th

26 Jun



The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is celebrating 40 years of playing for the Esplanade crowd on July 4th.  You may have seen this celebration on TV, as it used to be nationally televised.  It has been reported that the July 4th crowd exceeded several hundred thousand for the concert and fireworks show.  Aerial shots of the event shows wall-to-wall people.  Several Hundred Thousand! Whoosh!

The Esplanade (field) and the Hatch Shell (stage) is a popular site for many of the walkathons in Boston.  Once upon a time, I was the Walk Manager for an event at the same location that had 40,000 people. I thought THAT was crowded. Multiply THAT by 10 for the Pops concert – then add adult beverages, summer humidity, projectile bodily fluids and inevitable poor hygiene.  Pops Soup.  No thank you.

To claim a piece of Esplanade real estate on July 4, Pops Peeps gather up to a day before the concert to line up for the gate opening around 8am.  Then the initial mayhem begins as those in line are allowed onto the property to claim a piece of grass to babysit for the next 16 hours.  If you are a sponsor, then you are allowed to be civilized and sit in an actual chair in front of the stage.


Sixteen hours.  What to do before the concert starts?  Most people bring a tarp to sit on for sunning, eating, reading and other things outside.  And so, as a result of the Jackholes on Marathon Monday, there are many new security measures in place for the July 4th concert and fireworks.   Do not bother bringing the following:  coolers, glass containers, cans, pre-mixed beverages, and backpacks.  After 4pm, no items will be allowed to be brought in. Period.  Good news for the folks that have permits to sell food on-site.  Bad news for those who were hoping to bring sustenance with them.

Boston Magazine has a fun article every month called “by the numbers.”  This month, they focused on the 4th of July for the Pops Concert.  Since I’m a logistics luva, I found the following tidbits interesting:

4.7  Approximate amount of personal space, in square feet, each attendee will get if the Oval reaches full capacity.

400  Number of people per available portable restroom. 

porta line

I wonder if they will carry-over these security rules to all of the walkathons happening on the property.  Luckily, most of the participants are moving and not standing targets for Jackholes.

I prefer to watch the fireworks from an air-conditioned room, in a recliner with my adult beverage and 10 steps from a private potty 😉




Good reads from the charity world

19 Jun



Good reads this Wednesday in the Philanthropy world!  Coincidentally, both are about money.

Several charity groups have asked that we stop worrying so much about their overhead expenses when choosing organizations to support.  The Chronicle of Philanthropy outlines both sides of the debate and suggests that we still need these data points to keep everyone honest.  I feel that there will always be a few bad apples when money is involved and we need some watchdog groups to tell us who is not being a good steward of the donor dollar.  I especially get annoyed with the pu-pu-platter of cancer charity organizations that have a name similar to the larger, more well-known organizations and use that similarity to skim donations from the intended recipients.  Call them out!

In other news, it appears that Komen has ‘replaced’ Nancy Brinker with a new CEO.  According to the Dallas Morning News: Judith Salerno, 61, is executive director and chief operating officer of the Institute of Medicine, a prestigious independent group that advises the government and private sector about health and science.

The NPQ announced the new hire with a snarky headline: Komen Finally Chooses a Successor to Brinker or So They Say 

Apparently, the NPQ does not believe that Nancy Brinker was really replaced, since her new title is Chair of Global Strategy and will be responsible for “revenue creation, strategy and global growth as chair of the Komen Board Executive Committee.”  She will report to the new CEO.

Komen clearly needed to do something bold, since they have been criticized for some bad decisions in the past year – like the Planned Parenthood debacle, the “resignation” but not departure of the CEO, and the dialing-back of their signature events.  I hope this new ‘leader’ can use her health policy experience to get the fundraising back to where it should be so that we can get rid of this nasty disease. 


We will miss you, Kris

We will miss you, Kris

Security lessons from a parade

12 Jun



A few weeks ago, I was in NYC for a mommy-weekend and came upon a 18-block parade going down 5th avenue. The police had barricaded the cross streets coming into 5th where the parade would be traveling and had mandatory bag checks.  One of the mommies asked why the bag checks were necessary and the police responded that since the Boston Marathon bombings that this would be a new SOP for public events.   According to CBS New York: The NYPD put in place an amazing array of security initiatives, including police helicopters with special sensors to detect radiation on the ground, a counterterrorism car with a 360-degree camera to search for suspicious packages, and bomb-sniffing dogs all along the route to check for explosives on parade watchers. And a new double-barricade system was also in place, with an extra lane on each side of the street between participants and spectators.
Police were traveling the area on the Segway scooters.
We will probably see similar security installations at upcoming events and this may become the new norm.  I’ll be curious to see how the state police handle the crowds at the annual Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade in Boston.
Here is a potty I came upon with a fun name.

The 3-Day is 2 days too long

5 Jun

Uh Oh

Uh Oh


I was shocked, but not surprised this morning when I saw the news that Komen would discontinue the 3Day walks in several cities starting next year.  In my opinion, their walk model would not survive growth and the expenses would be too high to sustain the meaningful goals that the event intended to support.

A little history: Once upon a time, when the 3-Day, 60-mile extravaganza began – it was called the Avon 3-Day walk. avon3day They had rolled-out in Boston and since I was a walkathon manager at another breast cancer event – I had to check out the competition for the breast cancer donation dollar.  The finish line of the Avon 3-Day ended at the recreation field at MIT in Cambridge.  I was awestruck at the logistics and the sheer size of the staging for the closing ceremonies.  Daaayyyyuuummmm!  This was some big-honkin pink shit show!  I was impressed with the operations and was adding up the costs in my head.  This was no amateur production.

Avon hired an event company to produce the event, and the event company owned all of the walker/donor data and intellectual property of producing the walk. (Danger  – Will Robinson!) At the time, it was suggested that the event production company was paid with a percentage of the total donations, plus expenses. Many saw it as the non-charitable thing to do and received alotttta scrutiny in the press.  Years later, the event production company and Avon had an ugly breakup.  The event company kept all of the walker/donor data and looked for a new lover.

Fast forward a few years, and the event production company that Avon hired had transformed itself (and some leadership staff) to a new, less-scrutinized identity and began to date Komen.  This new event production company began to produce the new Komen 3-Day.  Avon still wanted to be in the long-walk-game and started their own, new event called the Avon Walk for Breast Canceravonwalk It is a 2-day walk that promotes itself as being a life-changing weekend. Personally, if I wanted a life changing weekend, then I would visit the Canyon Ranch Spa for a good detox.  Anyhoo – the event production company owned the 3-Day name and thus, Avon could not keep it.    Still with me?

To join the Komen 3-Day you must want to walk 60 miles and raise a minimum of $2300.  If you want to walk 39 miles during one life-changing weekend at the Avon walk, you need to raise a minimum of $1800.   Both event have a large, financial commitment.  Both events raise millions of breast cancer research and education dollars at each event.  Both events have huge expenses.

how much for the pink tents?

how much for the pink tents?

Fast forward a few more years, and the Komen 3-Day happens to be staging the start ceremony in my hometown.  Being a WalkathonMaven, I visit the starting compound and am once again in awe of the sheer size of the production.  I counted six, 18-wheelers full of equipment. I saw beautiful signage and gigantic staging. Staff and volunteers were wearing some gorgeous pink apparel. Again, the dollars were adding up in my head.  I wondered what percentage of the donations were used for expenses.  Oh – and since the event was a multiple-day-ordeal, they had to feed, bathe, massage, shelter, clothe and medically care for their walkers.  And volunteers.  And staff. Many of the services were donated, but not all of them.  It adds up.

I was not the only person questioning the percentage.  The spokespeople would respond to the media scrutiny by saying that they raise more money than any other breast cancer event.  True, but what percent of that actually goes to the intended recipients?  Komen never released the data.  If they did, I did not see it.  Charity Navigator gives Komen a good rating, but there is not a breakdown of event expenses.  The Race for the Cure (3-hour event) has lower expenses that the 3-Day (72-hour event) due to the sheer size and scope of traveled real estate and logistics.

Last year, Komen received additional scrutiny for ceasing to fund Planned Parenthood.  Donations dropped due to the outrage and bad press.  Komen’s CEO and Susan Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, supposedly resigned but recently received a 64% pay raise last year.  Hmmmm.  Donations continued to drop.

My educated guess is that the organization had to cut-loose some of the underperforming 3-Day events due to the expenses, so that they could continue to pursue their mission with other events that cost less to produce.  I wish them luck, since we need events to continue raising money to rid the earth of breast cancer.

pink ribbon