Floral Tips & Info
The Presidential InaugurationThe Presidential Inauguration is our country's premier celebration. The Gala, elegant dinners, swearing in ceremony, parade, balls and various other events provide us with an opportunity to wish our new leader well in his new administration. During these troubling times it is especially important to show those who wish to disrupt our lives that we will not be forced to withdraw from those activities that make living in the United States so special. It is my honor to once again to have been chosen to organize the floral activities for the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). Since the Kennedy Administration, the Society of American Florists (SAF) has been asked to help with the decorations. It began by PIC calling SAF (in Washington everything is an acronym) at the last minute asking for help. The florists who were contracted to do the various individual events were overwhelmed and they were not able to handle all the activities. In 1988, I was asked to organize a program that would be proactive in suggesting to PIC that they allow us to organize the whole effort. This was for the 1989 Inauguration of George H. W. Bush. It went well and I have been asked back each time since then. The only Inauguration that we didn't do was the second Clinton one. They were in the midst of the campaign finance scandal and after the first meeting we saw that our program would not work for them and we withdrew. In chairing this for SAF, I have had three main goals- to show the world that when you have a party you must have flowers, allow our industry members to participate in this exciting event, and provide PIC with more value than their budget would allow so that the decorations would be spectacular.
These goals are met by allowing those members who wish to be involved to donate their time or products. We have been able to stretch the reasonable but modest budget for decorations so that the decorations are much more special than what would normally be affordable for these large events. We usually have over 150 people and hundreds of thousands of flowers. The challenge is to have all of this come together at just the right time. This time there will be 9 Balls, a Gala, 3 Dinners, and an assortment of other receptions and activities. Each of these is large and would compare to large charity balls, parties, weddings, etc. The difference is that there is really only about a month to plan and execute. People need to be recruited and housed. The volunteers fly in at their own expense from all over. This time we even have designers from Hawaii and Alaska. The huge quantity of flower products and supplies must be ordered early enough so that it arrives in time to be conditioned and the flowers developed to show off their beauty. Driver with trucks and helpers are lined up and scheduled so that the designs can be delivered in the brief window that is allowed. The security at each site is understandably intense. At times our crews only have a few hours to do a massive amount of work before the site must be cleared for a security sweep, which is when no one is allowed in and the bomb sniffing dogs and police scrutinize everything.
A very rewarding part of this for me is the interaction with some terrific people. The PIC staff is made up of very hard workers, many of whom just came off the campaign. When asked about the short time they need to get this together, they say they see no difference from on the campaign trail when they only had hours to make things happen. In our industry, those from whom we get the products have been generous in donating additional materials and then thanking us for giving them the opportunity to participate. Sixteen years ago I found in calling people to see if they would like to be involved, that there were three types of reactions. The first was, "what are you getting out of it", the second, "why would you want to do that". And the third, "what a great opportunity, I would love to do it, thank-you very much". The third types were obviously the ones selected. We have great people working. They are divided up into teams. Each team has a coordinator, design captain, designers, handlers, drivers, and helpers. By the time they start to arrive, about a week before the Inauguration, all that needs to be done is included in a book for each event. The coordinator is then responsible for delivering the vision as laid out in the plan and communicated to us by PIC. This vision is one that comes initially from the style and taste of the First Lady.
Next month I'll let you know what that style and vision is and what we created.
If you have any other questions or need help, please e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-659-9200.
Charles F. Kremp 3rd is owner of Kremp Florist with shops in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Kremp’s main store in Willow Grove was recently remodeled and has been ranked as one of the finest in the country.
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