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Alumnus leads minicourse on event planning

Written by Sabina Leybold

Child watching a parade route

They say good things come in small packages, and the Everybody Loves a Parade mini-course in the Roy H. Park School of Communications was no exception.

Barry Mendelson ’65 and his team at Mendelson Entertainment Group (MEG) designed the mini-course to demonstrate all the elements that go into planning a massive event like MEG’s Dallas Children’s Health Holiday Parade and how students can apply those elements to their own events.

The mini-course was intensive, taking place over just one weekend in April. While covering so much information in such a short amount of time seems daunting, it mimics the world of event planning—it’s fast-paced, exciting, and doesn’t adhere to a Monday-Friday schedule.

Lisa Laffend ’17 is the president of the Bureau of Concerts on campus, and she took the course to learn what goes into planning large live music events and festivals. The parade perspective may be different, but it still showed what the actual entertainment world is like, Laffend said.

“I learned to start with the general and move towards the specifics, and keep an open mind,” she said.

The structure of Everybody Loves a Parade also allowed Laffend to take a break from the typical format of a college course for a more intensive learning experience.

“The professors at IC all have experience in their field, but they’re not always teaching about the specific jobs they’ve held,” she said. “For that one weekend, it was nice to look deeply at one specific event so I can have a more realistic view of the future.”

That realistic view came from the style of the mini-course, which included both lecture-style teaching and panel discussions from Mendelson and his team—creative director Minnie Madden, production director Chuck Rounds, and scenic designer Michael Barone—that looked at each of those areas, as well as how they interact with each other to develop the Children’s Health Holiday Parade.

“Everyone in the company has their own area of expertise, and the only way to present a comprehensive look at a large entertainment event was to have different people talk about different aspects,” Rounds said.

While the course was short, it has a lasting impact on IC’s campus. The final project for the class consisted of planning a large-scale event of their choice. Laffend planned a huge campus concert, including a budget for the event and a setup plan for the Athletics & Events Center.

"Some of the students’ event suggestions were great,” Laffend said. “I even encouraged taking them to the administration to see if they could become reality.”



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