It’s A Wrap~

Year in Review

So, our Social Media director – Marketing director – and all around great guy sent me an e-mail with a nice suggestion. He thought we should do a 2013 recap and well, this is it. Time for me to go back in time and revisit what went on within our organization, Walla-Pa-Looza. So, let’s begin.

We started the year with a plan, which is something we normally don’t do as we just got off of our 4th annual Jolly-Pa-Looza event. This time, our planning started at a wedding. Not just any wedding, but one big enough for a bear. Yes, a big cuddly bear. My friend Mike Betts decided that he and his bride Chrissy would enter marital bliss. As we sat and enjoyed the reception of the bears, it was brought up that a young girl named Maya Keesey from McHenry was going through treatment and it might be a good idea to help her. So, we decided that we could put together an event for her. We contacted our friends at the McHenry Country Club to secure a location and then I reached out to one of the best bands in the area, Friction. The next thing you know, we are in full promotion mode and in March we ended up raising a nice chunk of change for Miss Maya. After the event, Maya and her family said they were interested in helping us and because of our new friendship; we end up with a couple of new volunteers. Maya and her mom, Rachel ended up working with my wife Joanne in the children’s area at Walla-Pa-Looza 2013.

In April of 2013 we finalized the contracts for our entertainment at WP5. We then announced who would be at our summer event but because I was concerned that we would have a lack of attendance, I needed a commercial. That’s when I went to our Marketing guy with a vision and from that vision came this –

After we used this commercial as our grass roots effort, I got involved with a marketing campaign with two local radio stations and actually ended up being interviewed by them. I don’t want to speak for the others in our organization but hearing our commercials on the radio was surreal. For me, it legitimized our organization and that people would take notice. So, with our new cool radio ad’s we began a barrage of marketing via Facebook. Our media guy Justin Griletz comes up with some really good stuff. In fact, he has taken over all of our social media tasks and this change has made our organization even stronger. He has an incredible eye for design and thinks outside the box. 2013, was a year that made my relationship with Justin stronger than ever. I am glad he showed up 5 years ago because he is an incredible guy.

With all the excitement buzzing around our little organization, I was given news that a friend of mine didn’t have much time left, so in June, I said goodbye to a friend that battled with cancer for over 11 years. It finally wore him into submission. John Smidl was what I aspired to be, a man that cared about his community, family and friends. I am going to miss John and so will the folks here in Johnsburg.

It seemed like the time between John’s death and WP5 moved at the speed of light. Banners and posters were peppered all over the area, we had a float in the McHenry Fiesta Day’s parade (which we were given 1st place) and flyers were passed out to anyone with a heart beat. Yet, I couldn’t help but think, what happens if it rains? Yes, I know, I worry but it’s really hard when you are spending money that is dog eared to help people with cancer but, again, I worry. So, I got in touch with an insurance company and purchased rain insurance. Would I need it? I was about to find out.

Over the years, we had been very fortunate, we never had the need for rain insurance but I wasn’t going to take the chance. So, with a plan in hand, we setup for WP5, passed out shirts, went home and watched the weather. What I couldn’t believe was it wasn’t rain that was in the forcast but cold weather. Yes, I said it. Here it is July 26th and Tom Skilling is calling for “mild” temperatures. Ok, wait a minute looking back at the pictures from 2009 people were wearing sweatshirts and jackets. Either way, I couldn’t change the weather, so on with the show.

July 26th, 2013, our volunteers opened the gates at noon and around 1:00 Days of Mayhem took the stage, after that, The Partyhardigans came on and the park started to fill up. Both bands did a great job, but, all of a sudden, we had this barrage of people, I mean hundreds and hundreds. It was time to bring to the stage – American English. These guys were awesome. Then Friction took to the task of keeping the asses in the seats and they did just that. I heard so many compliments about these guys that later on, I would ask them to play Jolly Pa Looza in December. Anyway, after Friction rocked the crap out of Johnsburg, we had a short break and announced our head liner. Modern Day Romeos! These guys had everyone dancing, rocking and partying. When I looked out from back stage all I could see was tons and tons of people. Our best guess was about 4500 plus. Not too mention about 50 kegs of beer consumed.



This event would turn out to be the biggest event we had ever done. I looked around that night and my first thought was, how the hell am I going to top this? Well anyway, we finished up, packed up and said goodbye to the Johnsburg Community Club festival grounds for the summer. We were already planning on using the indoor hall at the JCC again for our 5th Jolly Pa Looza so we had a couple of meetings and started planning our next event.

Our 5th Jolly-Pa-Looza was record setting as well. This past Jolly-Pa-Looza attendance surpassed our other events by far because we put together a line up that was top notch. A band that played Fiesta Days in McHenry this past summer called 4 Grand was on our radar so we asked them to play our event along with Friction but this year we wanted to entertain early so we asked our long time friend Valentine to play and the response was incredible. Our friends from the McHenry Pigtail league presented us with a nice check and so did our other partners the Johnsburg Jr Skyhawks. We also had the Johnsburg Men’s Club donate the tips from the evening and they also donated their time behind the bar. I make mention of these organizations because they contribute to our success.

Part of me is glad Justin asked for some sort of recap but right now, I can only hope that those people that came out for one of our events remembers us and says – “We should go to that Walla thing again, that was fun and the kids had fun too!” My biggest fear is people will forget us and we won’t be able to continue to write checks that help the folks in the community.

Five years in the making, and yet, I still feel like there is so much more work to do.

Have a Wonderful 2014!