Originally written March 8, 2007:
I’m in Niagara, Ontario right now, on site for the Jim Pattison Group Partners In Pride Executive Conference. While I am not a proud Jim Pattison Group Executive, I am here as part of the staging crew, having worked on the annual corporate presentation.
I have worked on the show since starting as an employee at ShowMakers Productions in 1996, and have been on-site every year since 1999. It’s been a long, strange trip, and it amazes me that this will be the 9th year I’ve done it.
On even years, it happens in Palm Springs, at the former estate of Frank Sinatra. An extra challenge in those years is that it happens in a tent, on the tennis court of the estate. Usually, events like this happen in hotel ballrooms, where one can dim the lights and not really worry about the weather.
On the odd years, the show happens at a location that also hosts one of the operations of the Jim Pattison Group. This year, we are at the Great Wolf Lodge, a franchise of an indoor water park themed hotel chain for which Ripley Entertainment (one of Jim Pattison’s privately held companies). The Great Wolf Lodge doesn’t have a ballroom big enough for the conference, so a tent has been erected on the parking lot for the conference.
It’s been a challenge. Temperatures here have been as low as -20, and I don’t think it’s ever been above 0. Apparently the generators running the heaters that are keeping the tent at a reasonable temperature have been using 2200 litres of diesel every day. The tent has to be kept warm 24/7, to keep condensation off of the equipment.
Yesterday myself and all the other delegates were all asked to wear pyjamas that were given to us for a beditme story in the hotel lobby. We ate dinner from the hotel’s buffet. It was strangely comforting to be in a group of 142 executives of multi-million (and a couple multi-billion) dollar companies, eating institutional food in flannel pyjamas. It was an odd feeling. I simultaneously felt a sense childhood regression, but with a heavy dose of imagining what being in prison would be like, in institutional clothing lining up for very good, but otherwise institutional food.