Operation Egg Drop
This past Saturday our church threw a three hour festival called Operation Egg Drop. For the first 2 hours we had a bunch of games, inflatables (which we couldn’t inflate), a petting zoo, live music, and pony rides. For the final hour we dropped 25,000 Easter eggs into a football stadium from a helicopter. Using some connections we’ve built, we got permission to deliver flyers to every elementary and middle school in the city, and all but two of the schools agreed to pass out flyers to all of their students.
As it turns out, describing and promoting Operation Egg Drop is much easier than pull it off. Two days before the event, the city had the worst hail storm it’s seen in a decade or two. This meant all of the fields in the city were soft and muddy. However, the weather reports claimed it would be sunny and 72 on the day of the event…uhhhh wrong.
I woke up on event day to discover 40 degree weather with chilling 30 mph gusty winds. People generally don’t like 40 degree weather, and inflatables don’t work with wind over 15 mph. I spent most of the morning in denial and bargain praying with God. Roughly an hour before the event, the inflatable rental people informed us we would not be able to use the inflatables de to the wind. At that moment panic started to set in.
As start time approached, things weren’t looking much better. The temperate was still under 50 degrees. For the first hour people slowly trickled in until we had a few hundred people. The turn out was well below what we were hoping for. During the second hour, the trickle started to snow ball (I’m mixing metaphors). The people started to double every 15 minutes.
We’d hoped to keep people out of the stadium prior to the drop, but since we lost all of our inflatables, people started to get bored rather quickly. As the time of the drop approached, the stadium started to fill up more and more.
Then, before we were ready, the helicopter flew over head. This caused a mass rush for the stadium, which we already weren’t doing a good job of watching. Here’s where things got real confusing. The helicopter planned to do a mini-drop when they first approached in order to find out how far the eggs would drift when falling. The plan was for the stadium to be empty when this occurred, but since it wasn’t, people started to get worried they’d missed the full drop…which caused an even greater rush for the stands.
After a few minutes the stadium started to fill up. I was the chosen MC for the event. I’ve spoken in front of large crowds before, but I’ve never had to give instructions to 1,800 impatient and restless children and parents. Unfortunately we didn’t have much of a communication plan in place. So I didn’t know when to give the instructions. The helicopter didn’t know when to drop the eggs. And the crowd didn’t have any idea what was going on.
While I was giving the instructions on how things were going to go down, the helicopter suddenly flew over the stadium and started dropping eggs. This caused a mass exodus of the stands to get in line to grab eggs.
Here’s where things get juicy. Originally we only planned for one egg drop, but then the pilot informed us he could easily land in a field and reload the helicopter. So then we upped the number to three drops…but while the drop was going on we realize we were going to have 4 drops…which eventually turned into 5 drops.
In theory the first drop was intended for toddlers through kindergartners. Our plan was to have people wait outside of the fence of the stadium until all of the eggs were dropped (to keep them safe), and then we’d let them rush in through the gates. Unfortunately, the gates created a bottle neck. So the first people through picked up dozens of eggs and dozens of kids got no eggs because they were way far back in line (including all 3 of my sister’s kids). Therefore, we decided to let the people who didn’t get any eggs run out first on the next drop. We continued that pattern for the remaining four drops. Yet there were still people who received no eggs (which was astounding since we had enough eggs for every kid to have 20 eggs).
As it turns out, people go insane over Easter eggs. During the third drop, I was trying to get crowd excited about what was going on. I was yelling about all sorts of stupid and cheesy stuff. Then I made a stupid mistake…as I watched some eggs fall, I screamed, “Here they go!” To an audience waiting to rush out and grab eggs, they heard all they needed to hear, and they charged the field while the helicopter was still dropping eggs. Luckily the pilot and the guy pouring the eggs were paying close attention to the audience and stopped the pour before any kids got pelted with falling Easter eggs.
The whole experience taught me several life lessons.
- People go CRAZY over Easter eggs
- People don’t listen to instructions
- Parents will push over and steal from kids if it means getting more Easter eggs
- Parents get very angry when their kids don’t get any Easter eggs
Considering the way things turned out, we were probably lucky the weather possibly scared off some people and the loss of inflatables caused fewer people to come. If we’d had more people, things could have gotten dangerously chaotic.
All in all it was a pretty excellent, but insanely stressful day.