ISES Toronto Shares the Olympic Experience With Members

rachel-2009-smallBehind the Olympic Rings Rachel Mangal, ISES Toronto President


The Olympic Games were awarded to our country and Vancouver was given 5 years to plan our greatest party of the decade!  It rolled into town in a whirlwind fashion, capturing the hearts of the nation in a hype we had never felt before. Most of us now only have the famous red mittens as a last reminiscence of the Games but here are some really interesting backstage stories and statistics you haven’t heard yet!


ISES (international Special Events Society) Toronto hosted “Behind the Olympic Rings” on Tuesday, April 20, where some of the top professionals in theevent industry shared their experiences with the audience. Challenges in planning elements of the Olympic Games came in all directions, from legal permits, to weather and ever changing staffing. The audience walked away with a new appreciation of lighting, tenting, entertainment and catering.


Air Star Lighting Company

Air Star was awarded the official lighting provider over 14 Vancouver locations including various private events, Grouse Mountain and the NBC morning show where 10 balloon lights provided soft lighting on their outdoor set. Directors, Micheal St. Eve and Brian Rutherford explained their struggles to produce more inventory on short notice, adhering to overzealous permit requirements, and how their staff remedied tilting light towers due to melting snow.


Regal Tent

Regal Tent was the official partner of top Olympic Games Sponsors, including Molson and Samsung, along with providing the structure for Olympic Broadcasting House.  How do you secure a tent in the centre of the city without being allowed to punch into the concrete? What do you do if the areabeing tented is slanted?

Michael McCulloch, CEO, described how his team overcame these struggles with the outcome of sourcing a new tent floor supplier in Europe. Dave Woods, Project Manager of Regal explained how the demands of their Olympic clients needing to look different and not like a tent, resulted in the creation of new products including 2-storey tents with real windows and interior walls (available now to rent) and the creation of straight wall facades.


Despite the permit issues, and architecturaldelays, McCulloch says the number one mistake made throughout the whole process was in the beginning. Being one of the few tent companies in Canada with large-scale and customizable tent inventoryMcCulloch’s team had hoped that the phone would ring and business would flow in since the Olympics were coming to Canadian soil.  Regal wasn’t alone in these expectations.  Assumptions were felt all over Canada and especially in B.C. with many industries thinking that the phone would just ring.


The phone did eventually ring and Regal Tents helped their clients make a bold and unique impact for sites throughout the city!



Jim Stone’sexpertise is in event planning and public relations along with being a key counsel to many of Canada’s top entertainers. It’s no wonder he was called upon to handle a portion of the entertainment logisticsfor the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies. Jim was responsible for ensuring Canadian Opera Diva MeashaBrueggergosman along with icon, Sara McLaughlin were properly organized for the Games and right on cue for performing their acts. Jim expressed to the audience that famous musicians are exceptional people with deep hearts and souls and that they are truly gifted artists.


Molson Canadian Hockey House

Kelly Dooley, Director of Food & Beverage Operations (Compass Food Services) for Molson Canadian Hockey House shared the ins and outs of setting up a 62,000 square foot “Hockey Pavillion Pub”. With the Olympic Games starting mid February, Kelly’s first mission was to hire 400 staff in November to begin training. Come January, the first hiccup occurred with the 10 staff quitting, including the Head Chef. Competition was fierce for serving staff in the city with venues paying $40/hour for bartenders and Kelly’s budget couldn’t compete.  Molson Canadian Hockey House was going to be host to famous athletes, musicians and dignitaries, and the staff that committed, knew they would be hosting the greatest party this country had ever seen. 

Molson Hockey House was a tent structure with a main public area called the FanZone, 9 bars,  12 buffets, stage, 3 jumbo screens, raised VIP area, and International Hockey Federation private room and lounge. Virtual Tour:


After the first four days of the Molson Hockey House being open, staff were re-deployed to areas more suited to their expertise and the menu changed to more manageable “pub grub” in the Fan Zone. From there on in it was clear sailing with 3000 fans pouring in nightly along with random appearances of both the Men’s and Women’s Canadian Hockey Teams, Wayne Gretzky, the Prince of Monaco along with musical performances of Tom Cochrane, Sam Roberts, Bare Naked Ladies, Colin James and more!  This was definitely the best place to work during the Games!


After 17 days and an average of 14 hour work days, here are the final statistics:


·         Over 290,000 servings of alcohol (1,636 bathtubs worth)
•      397 associates (hired and trained)
•      $38,000.00 worth of Saputo cheese
•      340 pounds of garlic
•      9,920 whole lemons & limes (583 per day)
•      2,774 pounds of Mediterranean pasta salad
•      115,760 pieces of handmade hors d’oeuvres
•      200,000 Molson branded biodegradable beer cups


 The ISES Toronto audience came away with appreciation for all of our speakers’ efforts and appreciation for what the professionals in Russia are about to go through!

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