What to Expect at the Democratic National Convention

By Mitra Sorrells August 28, 2012, 5:35 PM EDT

Hargrove is managing the design, decor, and fabrication inside Time Warner Cable Arena, which is being transformed from a basketball arena into the site of convention activities September 4 and 5. On the final day, September 6, the convention moves to Bank of America Stadium, where the public has been invited to watch President Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination. Hargove is also handling event services at that venue.

Photo: Courtesy of Democratic National Convention

As Republicans convene in Tampa this week for their party’s national convention, final preparations are being made in Charlotte for the Democratic Convention, scheduled to begin with a community celebration on Monday, September 4. More than 35,000 people are expected for the event including 6,000 delegates, 15,000 media members, party officials, celebrities, and visitors. Here’s a preview of what will be happening around town next week.

WELCOME, Y’ALL: In stark contrast to the Republican’s massive single welcome event for all delegates and media, the Democrats are taking a more, well, democratic approach: spreading the delegate parties around 12 sites throughout Charlotte, thus providing business to multiple venues, caterers, entertainers, and other vendors.

PLANNER SELECTION: The host committee selected the planners for the welcome events from a group of more than 200 pitches. Charlotte Observer:

BUDGET CONSCIOUS: WSOC-TV reports planners are keeping things simple and affordable for many of the events:

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Organizers say the format and venues for the convention are intended to get more people engaged. That’s why they’ve created CarolinaFest, a family-friendly Labor Day event in uptown Charlotte on September 4 that will be open to the public and will celebrate the Carolinas and Virginia. The Charlotte Observer talked to Jay Howard, president of JHE Productions, the company producing the festival: “You should leave being proud to live here,” he said. “This is the first impression for local residents of the impact of the convention, and for visitors having their first impression of Charlotte.”

Entertainment at CarolinaFest will include Jeff Bridges and his band, the Abiders, singer Janelle Monáe, and musician James Taylor, who will also perform September 6 at Bank of America Stadium before President Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech. Charlotte Observer:

During an August 31 open house, the public will get a sneak peak at the $7 million transformation of the Time Warner Cable Arena, which will host the first two days of official convention activities. Charlotte Observer:

The public was also invited to apply for credentials to attend the closing festivities. Charlotte Observer:

LESS CELEBRITIES: The overall tone of convention events is more communal than in year’s past, which is why many celebrities who’ve attended past Democratic gatherings won’t be coming to Charlotte. The New York Post: ”'Instead of the exclusive, closed-door, party-insider-only events of the past, we're opening and closing the convention with public events that will allow more people than ever before to participate,' says Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters.”

BUT MORE ENTERTAINERS: Politico has several tidbits on the celebrities and entertainers that are coming to town, including, who will team up with Bill Clinton at a September 4 fund-raiser for Arkansas Democrats:

Hip-hop artist Common is performing on behalf of Musicians on Call:

Actress Jessica Alba and her producer husband, Cash Warren, are hosting the “Super-O-Rama” closing party:

Other convention-related entertainment includes the Foo Fighters performing at a benefit for Rock the Vote, the B-52s at a gala for the Creative Coalition, and Flo Rida at a fund-raiser hosted by Lifetime Television and Got Your 6.

SOUND TRACK: Both parties need to be cautious about piping in music at official convention events. Forbes: “It’s not hard for the conventions to get the rights to songs. They can do that by simply getting a public performance license from groups like ASCAP which represents songwriters. But things get a little murky when a song is connected to a specific political ideology.

APPS: Microsoft is the convention’s official technology provider and has created an app for the delegate voting process. Charlotte Observer:

SOCIAL NETWORKS: Similar to their activities this week in Tampa, both Google and Facebook will be busy in Charlotte. Politico:

TWEETUPS: Convention organizers are jumping into the social media arena as well, hosting “tweetups,” in-person meetings for social media users:

POLITICAL FOOTBALL: The N.F.L. season opens September 5, creating scheduling issues for convention organizers. CNN:

TOP PLANNER: Veteran Charlotte event planner Mary Tribble was one month into her retirement when Charlotte's mayor, Anthony Foxx, asked her to become deputy executive director for hospitality and events for the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee. Charlotte Observer:

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