SMDC New Year's Eve Party at the DECC in Duluth

January 4th, 2008 - 4:05pm by Slye Fox

DECC Employee Pat (left) of Hermantown
and Event Lab employee Ryan of Minneapolis
load balloons Saturday for the midnight drop
during the SMDC New Year's Eve party
Monday night.

photo by Clint Austin
excerpt from Duluth News Tribune, Dec 30, 2007

Each year, the Saint Mary's Duluth Clinic (SMDC) sponsors a large New Year's Eve Party at the Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center (DECC). This year, Event Labs decorated the space for 4 separate parties. My friend Toni works for Event Labs and so many of us often get recruited to help. The Rabbit and I jumped at our chance for free hotel, included meals, and some quick cash. Not to mention free attendance to one of the biggest New Year's Eve parties around.

We arrived in Duluth bright and early Friday morning after a 2 1/2 hour drive. After breakfast we headed to the DECC to start setting things up. Much of the work was in the hockey arena where the ice had been melted and the stage for Boogie Wonderland was being set up. 54 feet above the arena floor, some of us tiptoed around the catwalk hanging 6 foot diameter lanterns from the ceiling and tying up about 150 red balloons. No one left work that day without Nena's "99 Red Balloons" in their head. That is if their ears had stopped ringing from the cannon boom that resulted from random balloons popping.

Saturday, we spent 4 hours blowing up 1500 little red balloons for the midnight drop. The local paper was there to snap a few photos and take notes (see inserts). There were many tired and raw fingers after that.

Event Lab staff member Dena of Minneapolis
cuts sections from a roll of metallic floral
sheeting Saturday while decorating the
Gooseberry Falls Room at the DECC for the
SMDC New Year's Eve party.

photo by Clint Austin
excerpt from Duluth News Tribune, Dec 30, 2007

Each day we put in way more hours than we originally anticipated, but the results were worth it. Good thing the hotel had a hot tub to soak our weary feet. Not even the enticing call of Superior, Wisconsin's drink-if-you're-underage-so long-as-you're-with-an-adult could get us out of an early trip to bed. Mentally and physically exhausted, some of us didn't even care if we made it to the party itself anymore. To make matters worse for me, I lost a contact up in the catwalk the day before. Seeing with one eyeball is a sure recipe for a massive headache. Good thing JCPenney's bent the rules a bit and yielded to give me a sample emergency pair.

The party itself was a lot of fun. Especially for the Rabbit, who earned a special rite of passage. (Ask him for yourself.) Mostly we hung out in the back room with staff eating and drinking our hidden cache of goodies. Kevin and I ran up to the arena seating level to yank the trip wires for the balloon drop at midnight and then quickly found our way back down to the floor for champagne. Lots of random people posed for the camera as I surfed through the crowd snapping away. Take a peek - are you there? Otherwise, all of the pictures are in the main album.

After the party, we had nearly everything torn down in a couple of hours. 12 hours to set up -- 2 to tear apart. The coup de grace that really did us in, was the damn red tape star in the middle of the arena floor. No one anticipated the amount of work it would take to scrape the thing off the concrete. 4 hours later we were just razor-blading the last of it as the sun came up around 6 am. And if that weren't bad enough, the floor was getting constantly colder as they chilled it to re-ice for hockey in the morning. Yay! We'll all have nightmares of red duct tape after surviving that. Evil red stars!