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Friday, December 5, 2014

Kevin's Goodbye Blog: Some Lessons, Flashbacks and Awards

I've been delaying writing this as long as I could but it’s time to say “goodbye”…in blog form.

I grew up less than 10 minutes away from The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Like other people who grew up around here, The Pavilion and its big white tent has been a constant. When you grow up in The Woodlands there are some names that are just ubiquitous and the name “Cynthia Woods Mitchell” is definitely one of them. As omnipresent as “Grogans Mill” or “Panther Creek” (though I've yet to see an actual panther here… or a creek for that matter.)
An intern hard at work
To come to work at The Pavilion on show days is an incredibly exciting thing. You show up and the back lot is filled with trucks and buses. No matter the show, there’s an excitement in the air. It builds throughout the day as the activity increases throughout the day.
There is one moment I always love regardless of whether or not I’m a fan of the performer. It’s the moment when the lights go out before the headliner comes on stage. The buzz has been building all day but now it jumps up to a whole other level. Through the darkness you see the drummer appear out of nowhere sitting behind his kit and everyone just goes wild.
The point is after all the festivities everyone goes home. And when coming to work the following day, the back lot is as empty as if there was never a show (for 16,000 people) the night before.  The only proof of it is the memories of every one who came to experience it live. This is more or less how I feel about leaving.
This experience of working at The Pavilion has been as immersive and challenging as it was joyful. I was happy to set up camp here for 4 great months. Tomorrow the back lot may be empty, but the experiences, skills and-most importantly-the relationships I have developed here I will take with me forever.
Some Lessons Learned:

  • The Pavilion is spelled with one “l”. One. I shall remember this until my dying day.
  • Ask lots of questions and listen. This is a cliche, but it is absolutely true. 
  • It’s amazing how patient people are when there is a free koozie in it for them.
  • One of my favorite tasks was writing a blog post about helpful Pavilion “hacks” for concertgoers. The debate over whether or not to use the term “hack” took almost as long as it took to write the article. The lesson here is every word matters.
  • Tim McGraw is so in shape it’s distracting. But being married to Faith Hill is probably pretty good motivation to keep working out. I guess the lesson I learned here is the importance of working out if you are married to Faith Hill.
  • A sea of smartphone screens filming a live concert is lousy. Put the phone down and just enjoy this concert. You’ll be glad you did.
  • I am a table tent master.
  • “Great pictures are made not taken”- Ted Washington (Deep stuff). My interview with The Pavilion’s official photographer Ted Washington was like one big life seminar. As fantastic a photographer as he is, he is an even better person.
  • Every day is different: one day I’m coordinating the insurance paper work for Children’s Festival exhibitors and the next I’m pouring pounds of candy into plastic cauldrons. Not all tasks are created equal but all of them are important.
  • Seriously, the Pavilion has one L.

Intern Awards for Fall 2014
Longest weekend: Children’s Festival
Best Weekend: Children’s Festival. I have vivid memories of attending this as a 2nd grader, to be a part of the team that helped make it happen felt like coming full circle. It was easily the most personally rewarding event of my time here. In fact the toughest aspect of leaving is that I won’t be able to help out with next year’s Festival. I also cut so many name tags with the paper cutter I think they should name it after me.
The “Maybe I Need to Re-examine My Life’s True Calling” Award:  My time playing Scooby-Doo at Children’s Festival. The closest I’ll get to understanding what it’s like to be Batman. It was a last minute decision but a blast.
Creepiest office mate: The Lionel Richie cardboard cutout.
Show I was Saddest to Miss: Oddball Comedy Festival
Concert I’m Happy to Cross off my Bucket List: Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen
Show That Beat My Expectations: Drake and Lil Wayne
Impromptu “Woah” Concert Moment: Instrumental symphonic rendition of “Let it Go” at Hocus Pocus Pops and you could hear what I assume is every little girl in attendance singing it. This happened. It is what I assume it is like to live in a “musical.”

In Conclusion
Truly, I was the luckiest person in the world to work here for the past four months and I owe this to the Pavilion's marketing department.
Courtney has taught me that every sentence matters. Every word matters. All punctuation matters. That level of attention to detail has been a wonderful example to me.
Whitney has been my spirit guide. My expert advice giver. My social media mentor. She was my Wikipedia incarnate for my time here, answering every question (even the dumb ones) with priceless wisdom. She also has great taste in television.
Working with Shannon, the marketing director, has spoiled me with great experiences here. There is an old quote “always preach...when necessary, use words.” That’s Shannon. The example she has given me in planning events and handling the inevitable mishaps is something I will always take with me. And did I mention her great taste in the interns she hires? That’s just my opinion, but it’s true.
There are times during the day where it seems endless. Suddenly you have to put a square peg in a round hole and the show is going to start whether you are ready or not. But everyone pulls together, throws in a few ideas and then they make it work. Time and time again.
In my first month on the job I interviewed Ted Washington what he took away from his 25 years of experience shooting shows and events at The Pavilion. This is what he said:

Ted: I take away the enjoyment of being with a lot of really good friends and a good facility. The whole experience has been just incredible. I can tell you, this is not a typical concert venue. This place is special, it is very special. I have been accepted 100% by everybody involved. I hope I have contributed to some degree. The whole experience has been unbelievable.
After four months of being fortunate to contribute, I finally understand what he meant. Thank you to everyone who made this experience what it was. To say I received more from The Pavilion than I could ever repay would be a cliche, but then again, cliches are cliches for a reason.

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