WASHINGTON, D.C. The star attraction of the Washington Monument reopening ceremony—following nearly three years of repairs from an earthquake—was the 555-foot obelisk itself. So planners for the May 12 event had to bring the pomp and patriotism without creating any distractions.
“We didn't want it to be so overwhelming that the stage setting would compromise the monument behind it,” said Kristine Fitton, vice president of marketing and communications at the Trust for the National Mall, which planned the event with the National Park Service. “We wanted the event to feel special, but we didn't want performers or anyone else to overshadow the occasion.”
The solution was decorating with 48 inflatable stars in red, white, and blue from Air Dimensional Design that provided simple yet patriotic decor that did not compete with the monument. The inflatables were attached to 12-foot-high scaffolding and were also used in a tent for a breakfast before the ceremony.
NBC Today show weatherman Al Roker hosted the event, which featured a performance from current American Idol Candice Glover—a performer appropriate for the young people in the crowd, Fitton said. The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, the United States Navy Band, and the Boy and Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral Choir also performed, and historical reenactors from Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens dressed as George and Martha Washington educated guests about the first president and his wife.
The monument had been closed since a magnitude 5.8 earthquake caused significant damage. David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group donated $7.5 million for repairs, which was matched by Congress.
Coca-Cola sponsored the ceremony, while John Deer, Corner Bakery, and W Washington D.C. hotel provided in-kind services. Eventometry, a subsidiary of Productions at Work Inc., assisted with design and production.