As we continue the celebration of CSI’s 30th anniversary and symbolism of the pearl, we would like to take you on a journey to share how an event is transformed from a conceptual idea, a mere grain of sand, into something refined and beautiful – a pearl that has been weathered by experience, careful planning, organization and execution.

One of our most impressive transformations to date was “An Evening at the Washington Navy Yard.” This spectacular event was an elegant, patriotic and unprecedented experience for 900 guests of a fortune 500 insurance company. The pre-production, however, was a little gritty to say the least. We were riddled with logistical challenges, which we knew we would face, as this was the first civilian event to ever be held at the Washington Navy Yard. Our client had a connection to the Navy, and we were honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the fine men and woman on base to make this event a true success.

The most significant of these challenges was building an event venue from the ground up on while following strict government protocols. The outcome of our hard work was an elegant custom venue created on these ceremonial grounds; a stunning tent with glass doors that was complemented by a chic ceiling treatment and chandeliers. A beautiful stage was built, complete with ambient lighting, stellar sound, and of course a dance floor, which served as the site of many memorable performances throughout the evening. In addition to building the event space and expansive stage, the team also needed to think of other logistical elements that are typically taken for granted, like restrooms, electricity, a catering kitchen, and more.

As we were creating an event site from scratch, we were also faced with following all of the important security protocols of The Washington Navy Yard. Serving as the ceremonial center for the US Navy, home to the Chief Naval Officer, as well as the site of several other classified buildings, security at Washington Navy Yard was of the utmost importance. We had to ensure that all vendors and staff received proper credentialing for security purposes and followed the protocols of the US Government. Considering we had crews from about 14 vendor partners and at least 100 catering staff onsite, this was no easy feat!

The final logistical challenge overcome for this program was the careful planning and execution of the impressive and lengthy roster of diverse entertainment that performed nearly constantly throughout the event. From the moment guests arrived, smooth jazz filled the outdoor space as they sipped and socialized with one another. The sounds of bugles then signaled the group for dinner, a grand element to start the evening. After entering the artistically-created tent, a three-course dinner was served while the main entertainment commenced. The Presentation of the Colors was accented by the beautiful voices of a USO A Capella group singing the National Anthem. Every part of the evening was cohesive and required detailed instruction of the procedures and performance times. The dress of each entertainment group primarily included white suits and sailor uniforms, enhancing the venue location and creating an inventive, one-of-a-kind occasion. To top off the evening, dancers dressed in retro-naval uniforms performed special renditions of “On the Town” and “Sing Sing Sing”, the political satire group Capitol Steps sparked some smiles, and a large band closed the night with dance-infused notes.  Our well-orchestrated production that paired a respectful honoring of the US Navy with lighthearted fun earned CSI the ADMEI Excellence Award in Entertainment Production. Through careful planning and creativity, CSI transformed a tiny grain of a concept into a magnificent and patriotic pearl of an event, complete with an elegant and energetic entertainment program, and an ambiance of honor and price in a beautiful setting.