Posted by: COSI | February 22, 2010

The Other Side of COSI

Most people envision COSI as just a great place for families during the daylight hours—yet there is a whole other side to us after the sun sets. Friday was just one of those evenings that shows how we operate very broadly and how I get to have fun as CEO. (Hey, it’s budget time—I needed to have some fun by the end of last week).

We partnered with Experience Columbus to host 800 conventioneers from the Heartland Travel Showcase convention being held here in Columbus. The event was supposed to create a memorable opening reception. Being able to deliver a great experience for this large and influential group with members from many states was important to help encourage them to drive tourism in Ohio and future visitors/bus groups to COSI.

So we pulled out all the stops with our partners—We were filled with activities (ours and theirs), special opportunities in our Adventure experience, great food and the terrific view that we offer to the Columbus skyline in our City View area. Yes, we can be just as engaging and fun for adults as youngsters.

I had the special privilege of being on stage with a number of dignitaries and tourism leaders, but I have to admit that my two favorites were Ohio’s First Lady Frances Strickland (a great down-to-earth individual) and Jack Hanna from the Columbus Zoo (who is, well, he’s Jack Hanna!). It’s a tough act being on stage with Jack but I enjoyed the applause as we went on stage together. Well, yeah, I knew the crowd response was for Jack but I could still enjoy hearing it while I walked up the steps with him 😉

David & Jack Hanna

David & First Lady of Ohio Frances Strickland

My favorite part, and quite the crowd pleaser, was our signature ceremony closing activity– our special “science” version of the 1812 Overture. Prepped with a brief explanation to the crowd of how hydrogen and oxygen are combined to form water, the dignitaries light on cue hydrogen filled balloons to provide the coordinated “cannon booms” to accompany Tchaikovsky’s classic piece.

I took the “special” balloon with the extra oxygen mixed in to create the louder final boom to assure that the First Lady, Jack or one of the other dignitaries weren’t going to be too startled. As you can see in the picture everyone lit their candles and ignited their balloons just fine with all the proper safety precautions—even if we probably had the First Lady’s security detail on their toes.

The “pull out all stops” reception was a great way to see how COSI is of value to the community in more ways than perceived. I always have fun partnering with Jack and his team as we work together to leverage our national rankings of the #1 Science Center and #1 Zoo. And hosting the First Lady with her enthusiasm and commitment to creativity (one of COSI’s anchor traits) is always a treat. We had a great group for our crack team to work with as we staged yet one more significant community centered event at COSI and showed off our engaging adult experience side.

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