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A River Runs Through It

On July 30, 2005, an international icon, the Red Wing Shoe Company, celebrated a coveted benchmark among an international retail community: 100 years of continuous business. A century of producing a quality product with service to match by a company still capable of boasting with certain confidence, "Made in America." Ten decades of maintaining not only a company's growth and expansion, but also the nurturing of the community that surrounds it. One's initial venture into this tightly knit hamlet immediately confirms the warm existence of a people with heart and a ready helping hand.

Many outside companies were considered for the task of producing a celebration for such a momentous event. When the dust settled, the choices made, 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 most capable of delivering a 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 an American giant. Both companies agreed to keep the details of the event secret until showtime.

One and a half years were spent assembling and managing over 200 vendors and individual artisans, most being native sons, to provide an evening that would salute the heritage and pride of the Red Wing Shoe Company. The plan was to create a 75-foot peacock fantail water screen in the middle of tightest bend in the Mississippi River, and project over 18 minutes of graphics animation and pictorial documentation that would float almost magically six building stories high over the rivers summer currents. The water screen was designed and assembled by Mirage Water Works of Anaheim California on an 18-foot x 48-foot 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 liquid. Team members Scott and Ben Ritt lived on this barge night, day and during the performance without as much as an umbrella, Ben working 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, hi-definition and beta camera equipment for delivery of imagery both hard wired and microwave 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 the limitless diversity of Matt Tucker Lighting Design and his band of specialists from 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 were comprised of six 7,000 watt syncrolites and back-ups, twenty four X-spots and thirty six PC Studio Beams, DMX programmed wirelessly with a Grand MA consul. Two forty-watt Yag lasers were incorporated for spatial enhancement. The instruments had to be transported and mounted on over 250 feet of eight-foot construction scaffolding 10 feet off the water line.

RES pyrotechnics team Erv Haman and Tracy Vanasek ladened the water screen barge and two 18-foot x 48-foot flat barges flanking the water screen for ground level and mid-aerial effects. A special staging area was cleared in the Wisconsin woods behind the barge systems that provided the ability to launch over 900 shells in the 75-second grand finale that included 12-inch 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, SAI's equipment delivered a chest rumbling yet intimate 5 point surround sound generating over 76,000 watts 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. Mike's artistry has been witnessed by most in the form of the Leprechaun from Lucky Charms as well as Snap, Crackle and Pop characters. Over 1,500 hours were spent in generating storyboards and final presentation product. All systems chased a single SMPTE time code signal, both hard-wired and wireless on both shores, utilizing Sennheiser 100 and 300 wireless transmission systems. Power on both shores appeared in the form of eight Zeigler generators delivering over 650 KVW of power. All individual elements thrived with synchronicity under the direction of Paul Trittelwitz, overall event technical director.

Production Wows Attendees
The attendees of this private party witnessed this spectacular only after being delighted in a 110-foot x 348-foot Skyway tent by a dance troop presentation in the vein of Broadway's Stomp, designed by local choreographer Colleen McClellan. The 40-minute show was highlighted by poignant videos created by Red Wings own chief pilot, Chappie Achen, this following emotional addresses by both Bill Sweasy, who's family created the Red Wing Shoe Company of today, and Dave Murphy, president and CEO of Red Wing Shoes. Silently, behind the scenes stood Jay Tauer and Stacy Crownhart of RWSC, along with Rick Seyffer of the City of Red Wing, taking no bows, but deserving them all.

Finally, the dance production number needed a backdrop as extraordinary as the event itself. It was decided to develop an 18-foot x 36-foot custom mural of Red Wing Shoes 100 year history. This task was accepted by The Cre8tive Collaboration Gang's co-owner and the shows 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 Ms. Wallach and the team at PressWrite Printing. Initially constructed in six foot panel parcels, computer blended into six-foot x 36-foot lengths and 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. Adobe software was consulted and amazed at such an undertaking, and currently are checking their own records.

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