Logistics and Support Staff Prepare for USET Foundation's Squad of Olympians Ride in 119th Rose Parade
WELLINGTON, FL - December 13, 2007 - The 12 Olympians who will represent the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation in the 119th Tournament of Roses(R) Parade in Pasadena, California, on January 1, 2008, will find all the details for their participation in the five-and-a-half mile mounted march well taken care of by a strong support staff working on the extensive logistics well in advance of their arrival.
Mason Phelps, founder and president of Phelps Media Group, Inc. International (PMG), handles the public relations for the USET Foundation and is heading up the support staff, which includes Bob Drennan, Peggy Phelps, and Kim Tudor. Mr. Phelps initiated the Foundation's participation in the parade following the 2007 edition of this New Year's Day tradition. "I rode in the 75th Rose Parade as a youth when I lived in Pasadena, but hadn't gone to the parade since I was in high school until last year," said Phelps. "That's when I had the idea that the USET Foundation should participate in 2008. In branding the USET Foundation, I seek out exposure beyond the trade magazines, and since the parade is broadcast to millions of people in 75 countries, it seemed a perfect opportunity, especially in an Olympic year."
Arrangements have been ongoing for more than six months starting from the time Phelps downloaded the application from the Rose Parade site. Phelps and PMG staffers, with USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie B. Jenkins, created a 14-page application with color photos of Olympic riders to submit to the Tournament of Roses. The application pitched the idea of including among the parade's 300 horses, a USET Foundation squad of 12 Olympians representing the three Olympic disciplines. The application was accepted and a squad of Olympic show jumpers, dressage riders, and eventers will ride in the Rose Parade for the first time in the event's 119-year history.
"Then it was a question of figuring out the four riders for each discipline and finding out who would be available," Phelps related. Phelps worked with USET Foundation President and CEO Jane Forbes Clark, Executive Director Jenkins, and Executive Assistant Nancy Little to select, contact and commit 12 Olympic riders - four from each Olympic discipline. The mounted Olympians participating in the 119th Rose Parade are: show jumpers Margie Engle, Anne Kursinski, Beezie Madden, and Melanie Smith Taylor; dressage riders Sue Blinks, Debbie McDonald, Guenter Seidel, and Steffen Peters; and eventers Darren Chiacchia, Nina Fout, Kim Severson, and Karen Stives. Clark and Phelps, who was the alternate on the U.S. eventing team at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, will lead the 12-member Olympic squad on foot as flag-bearers for the USET Foundation.
Peggy Phelps - Housing and Entertainment
"Housing and entertainment for the Olympians and their significant others while they are in Pasadena is an important part of the package and required a separate point person to handle locating suitable residences," Phelps said. "My mother, Peggy Phelps, who lives in Pasadena and is well-acquainted with the Rose Parade and its officials, volunteered to secure housing for the riders in private homes where the owners would not be in residence."
Since the riders would all be in town for New Year's Eve, USET Foundation President Jane Clark wanted to create a New Year's Eve celebration for the riders and their significant others, plus the USET Foundation officials, and support staff that would also be in Pasadena. Peggy Phelps stepped in to make the arrangements for a New Year's Eve dinner party at Bistro 45 - the same location that the Rose Bowl Parade President's Dinner is being held. Jane Clark and Mason Phelps will host the celebration.
On New Year's Day, Peggy Phelps is hosting a brunch at her home after the parade for all of the Olympic riders, their significant others, USET Foundation officials, and several noted equestrians in the Southern California area.
Bob Drennan - Horse Logistics for USET Foundation Rose Parade Squad
The next order of business was locating 12 suitable parade horses and working out the logistics for their participation. Originally, the plan was to have individuals from Southern California lend their horses to the USET Foundation. "But there was concern about the horses' safety and ability to march on pavement for over five miles," Phelps noted. "The Los Angeles Mounted Sheriff's Posse generously offered to provide experienced horses and we accepted."
As the myriad of details involved with the horses emerged, Phelps assigned Bob Drennan of Santa Barbara, California, to take charge. "We needed a point person in California to coordinate and oversee the logistics of these horses for our Olympians," Phelps explained. "I employed Bob Drennan because he is very well acquainted with the horse scene." Drennan has managed over 25 major equestrian events in his 35-year career in horse shows, including the 1992 World Cup Final in Delmar, California.
Representing the USET Foundation, Drennan attended several extensive meetings with the Tournament of Roses committee. "They are very, very organized. Every detail is addressed," said Drennan. "They have it down to a science." Drennan's responsibilities included all aspects of the Olympians' mounts, from selection to their ultimate return to their owners.
Drennan arranged for the horses to be stabled at the L.A. Equestrian Center (LAEC) prior to the parade. "The horses are privately owned by deputized Sheriffs, so each horse is being shipped in separately by its owner," noted Drennan. He scheduled a farrier, as the horses will be shod with Duratrac Nails. Drennan will locate and assign all the proper tack that is discipline specific and fits the horse. The horses will also be attired in quarter sheets embroidered with 'United States Equestrian Team'. "We've asked the dressage riders to bring saddles, but other than that, all of the tack is being provided by Pat Kinneman, who owns Dominion Saddlery and The Traditional School of Riding at the L.A. Equestrian Center," said Drennan. "The riding school has every size imaginable, so I can come and choose the tack I'll need. It's a lot of different pieces and sizes for 12 horses in three disciplines. Virginia Fout, Polly Sweeney, and Amy Brubaker have been a great help to me in making sure that I know exactly what I'll need. They are all competitors and knowledgeable horse people."
To ensure the horses are in the staging area eight miles away at their assigned time for the New Year's Day parade, Drennan hired a professional shipper. "I hired the best horse hauler in Southern California with two trucks, so six horses on each truck will be taken to what they call 'The Pit'," detailed Drennan. "We'll caravan over at 11:00 pm on New Year's Eve. We have to be in the staging area by midnight."
While Drennan made all of his stabling and transporting arrangements during the summer and fall, the actual selection of the horses took place on December 2 while he was in Wellington, Florida, for the National Horse Show. "They had a showing of 18 horses in Pasadena, from which we could choose our 12," Drennan said. "I sent Polly Sweeney and Amy Brubaker to stand in for me. They brought video cameras and took copious notes."
Drennan has enjoyed his experiences with the Rose Parade preparations and is looking forward to the actual event. "Out of all the events I've done in my 35-year career in horse shows, this is the most challenging," said Drennan. " It is certainly the most unique event I've been involved in, and when it's all said and done, I think it's going to be the most fun!"
Kim Tudor - Logistics and Event Coordinator, Olympic Rider Liaison
USET Foundation Executive Assistant Nancy Little coordinated all of the detailed paperwork involved for obtaining Rose Parade credentials for the riders and support staff. Once in Pasadena, the Olympic riders would also need a point person in charge. "It's a huge undertaking because the timing is crucial," said Phelps. "Kim Tudor, who is very good with special events and knows a lot of the riders, agreed to take on the role." Tudor has 27 years experience in the horse show business, including 26 years with Stadium Jumping, Inc., coordinating events, sponsorship, logistics, and hospitality.
Most of the riders are bringing significant others to the event and Tudor is responsible for their logistics as well. "From the minute that the riders and their loved ones arrive until the time that they depart, I'll be coordinating all of their transportation needs," Tudor said. "Some of them will already be in L.A. working, so they'll have their own rental cars, but I will be coordinating the logistics of when and where they have to be the whole time they're in Pasadena."
Tudor worked with Peggy Phelps to coordinate the mix of riders that will stay together in the houses provided for them. Tudor is also in charge of seeing that the houses are stocked with food for the guests' stay. The Olympians and their significant others have two social engagements to attend - the dinner party on New Year's Eve at Bistro 45 and the brunch at Peggy Phelps's home after the parade - and Tudor will coordinate their transportation to and from these events as well.
But the most crucial point is making sure the riders are in 'The Pit' on time. "The Rose Parade wanted us all there at 11:00 pm on New Year's Eve so I had to call and tell them that our riders are coming from across the country with loved ones and they expect to spend New Year's Eve together," Tudor related. "They've graciously allowed us to get there by 1:30 am. It's a live televised event - there's no repeat, there's no going back, there's no re-run, it has to be right from the very get-go, so I understand why they want us all to be there at a particular time."
Since the Olympians will be in the staging area for seven hours before they mount up for the parade, and temperatures are expected to be quite chilly, Tudor rented an executive motor coach to accommodate them. "It has a full kitchen, a living room, television, six bunk beds so they can take a nap, and we'll bring in food, of course," said Tudor. "It's a huge executive coach bus - like a gargantuan luxury RV."
The Olympians' significant others will not be in the staging area, but will view the parade from a block of VIP seats allotted to the USET Foundation. "The spouses and loved ones will meet for breakfast at Peggy Phelps's house and will walk a short distance to the event," Tudor explained. "They will have special tickets for the VIP seating so they can watch the parade."
Tudor noted that the Rose Parade is one of the most watched events on television and she is thankful to the riders for participating on the holiday to help promote the USET Foundation. "For the USET Foundation to have the spotlight during this event is exciting," said Tudor. "It will be equestrian Olympians receiving the Olympic spotlight during that event. It's fantastic that Mason has been able to organize this. It's a spectacular opportunity for the USET Foundation."
Media Personnel - Mary Hilton, Jake Cormier, Ken Braddick, and Ilse Schwartz
"Leading up to the event, PMG has been issuing press releases since August," Phelps said. "Mary Hilton wrote the releases as the news occurred and coordinated all the requests for photos that came in from across the country from newspapers and magazines."
The press releases led to other unique public relations opportunities that Phelps headed up including radio spots with Debbie McDonald and television opportunities with Home & Garden TV (HGTV).
The Rose Parade publishes a Program and a Media Guide and required detailed text about the riders and the USET Foundation for both. The television newscasters create their commentary from the information in the Program and Media Guide. PMG's Phelps and Hilton, with the USET Foundation's Jenkins and Little, prepared and submitted extensive text, biographies, and photographs for the Program and Media Guide.
The credentialed PMG Media Personnel that will attend the parade on January 1, 2008, and report on it for the USET Foundation are writer Mary Hilton, videographer Jake Cormier, and photojournalists Ken Braddick and Ilse Schwartz.
"All in all, the attention to detail this endeavor required was extensive," Phelps said. "I knew that this would be a precision operation when they asked how many feet and inches our horse trailers would require to park. They measure off exactly how many feet need to be blocked off on the highway to accommodate parking for these vehicles. This is an exacting event with a myriad of details and I'm pleased that the support team handling the logistics rose to the challenge. We can look forward to a wonderful showcase for the Olympians and the USET Foundation."
PHOTO CAPTION: (l-r) Mason Phelps, Kim Tudor, and Bob Drennan. PHOTO CREDIT: Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com. This photo may only be used in relation to this press release.
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