Set the stage for its successful role in your event
Admittedly, I’m typically the first person in the room to remain a bit skeptical when presented with a new program. All the type A attributes of my personality kick-in, and I’m instantly rationalizing every aspect: “Does this support our mission?” “How much will this cost?” “How many resources will we need?” “What other programs will suffer when we shift resources?” “Who will lead to ensure success?” And most importantly, “What is the goal?”
You see, when it comes to business, without a goal, I’m like a bear without paws – incapable of survival.
With that said, I was leery when the idea of putting forth a fundraiser for Trails and Vistas continued circulating our meetings. We loosely tossed around concepts at meetings, without a real commitment to a feasible idea or actual program. Due to the lack of resources, enthusiasm, and mass competition in the community, we continued to table the idea.
During this period, I was enjoying my time as a docent for the Old Jail Museum. The Truckee Donner Historical Society is close to my heart, and I love sharing stories of Truckee’s colorful history with those who curiously walk through the Old Jail Museum doors. Oddly enough, as a docent I’m also a recipient of many of their own stories, several of which have been hard to forget.
This year’s winner was the young man who went on and on about his private “ghost” tour of The Truckee Hotel. As it went, a friend told him stories over drinks. The friend knew someone else who took the group of friends over to the Truckee Hotel for a private tour. As the young man’s words continued, an idea gelled in my mind.
After a few weeks, I was able to create a concept behind my vision. In my mind, it fit: Trails and Vistas is known as an “experience” type of event, while the Truckee Donner Historical Society is known as a historical “informant.” Combining history with an experience, as it has in the past, makes perfect sense. After a pitch to Nancy Lopez, our Trails and Vistas Executive Director, and then our board of directors, I was given the go-ahead to present the idea to the Truckee Donner Historical Society. I was elated. They loved the concept, mutually agreed upon the goals, and were more than happy to share the funds. Their quick ability to recognize the significance of the event, the opportunity to raise money, and a commitment to put what little resources they could forward, made my decision to produce the event on their behalf easy – even though we only had five weeks on the books to make it happen. (I’ll write another blog on “How to combat event induced heartburn” at a later date).
With that said, we agreed upon the following goals:
- Position the Historical Haunted Tour as one of the season’s most talked about events by providing a unique and engaging experience to our attendees.
- Create public awareness of Truckee’s historical gems, and promote preservation.
- Produce an annual, sell-out event.
- Capture additional funding opportunities by enhancing silent auction items and/or sponsor donations.
- Expand next year’s Tour into a larger, late-summer event with a broader spectrum of sponsors.
- Create a solid foundation for long-term growth through this unique and thoughtful partnership.
Due to the hard and diligent work of Nancy Lopez, Chelsea Waltershire (president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society), Judy Dunlap (past president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society) and our numerous volunteers, we not only achieved these tangible goals for this year, we were able to surpass several. Their constant presence in our day-to-day communications helped each of us remain focused as our concept grew into a full-fledged event.
I had the great pleasure of greeting our guests as they returned, each and every one saying they couldn’t wait until next year. Our dear attendees, neither can we! Thank you for your support.
A special thanks to:
Eileen Lewis, Helen Heindel, Lisa Robertson, Colleen Dalton, Cindy Maciel, Nancy Lopez and Chelsea Walterscheid, who were tour guides in period dress, escorting attendees through The Kruger White House, The Old Jail Museum, The Pour House, The Truckee Hotel and The Pharmacy. These businesses kindly donated their places for the performances.
Jane Pedrazzini, Mark Brown, Jean Fournier and Reina Markheim, who took on personalities from the past and related spooky happenings and famous hauntings at the sites. Guests enjoyed wine and music by Ian Ethan Case and Chris Waltz in the beautiful surroundings of the Kruger White House.
The evening included a successful silent auction, put together by Judy Dunlap and raising nearly $3,000 for the two nonprofits. The money raised will be used to purchase archiving software for the Old Jail Museum and new computers and online research tools for the Historical Society’s Joseph Research Library.
A big hug to my father, Kurt Breitwieser, who, had less than eight hours to prepare for his docent role at The Pour House; although, I suspect the “ladies” at his site helped calm his nerves and enhanced the experience for all. You’re a trooper, Dad! Delighted you answered my call…
Great tour, the docents were entertaining, especially the first woman in the basement. Enjoyed seeing historic sites previously not visited. – Anonymous
Awesome! Exceeded my expectations! – Katie S.
Not just great fun, but very informative. Wonderful costumes! – Gordon S.
What a wonderful event that showcases our rich history and character here in Truckee. Fun and educational, so proud to live here! Jenny F.
This was excellent, I can’t wait until the 2nd annual! – Grant P.