It was February 2008, and Regal Tent’s President Michael McCulloch was in New York City over a three week period getting set-up for an exclusive, VIP fundraiser being coordinated by Gucci and Madonna for her organization Raising Malawi. Raising Malawi is a charity that was created in 2006 after Madonna adopted her son from the African country of Malawi. She learned that there were more than a million orphaned children living in the country, and felt the need to do something to raise awareness.
The fundraiser dinner and fashion show that were put together in support of this amazing cause were nothing short of exceptional. Every detail was created especially for this event, down to the gold railings and place settings. The celebrity guest list included heavy hitters like Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Keys, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Drew Barrymore and many more, and the evening was a massive success! The story you don’t see in the media however, is what it takes to build an enormous temporary structure on the grounds of the United Nations in order to host an event like this fundraiser.
It was an unseasonably warm February when we got to town to set up this 40m x 60m structure, which came with it’s own laundry list of issues. The ground was so soft that everything was sinking right into it! Our forklifts, the concrete blocks to anchor the tent – you name it. On top of that, the fluctuating temperatures were causing our clear roof panels to crack, which meant problem-solving how to get them up on the roof (and keep them up there!) in one piece. We ended up using heated trucks to ship them down to the job site, and leaving them in there until the very last minute before installing them. On top of all the logistical hiccups, working at the United Nations came with restrictions as well! These included heightened security for all our personnel, and the need for all of our deliveries to be inspected by guards and dogs!
In the end, as with all event orchestration jobs, it all came together perfectly just in time for the celebrities and socialites to arrive and raise money for an amazing cause. We don’t always get to see the behind the scenes work that goes into events like the Raising Malawi fundraiser we worked on in 2008, but it was definitely a labour of love for the children of Malawi!