Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flugtag 2008

The Red Bull Flugtag was presented here on Saturday, for the first time in Tampa Bay, and I attended with a group of friends along with another 110,000 people or so. The arrow on the right indicates roughly where I was. See me? I'm jumping up and down and waving! Hello!
In case you're not familiar with it, Flugtag, a German term meaning "Flying Day", consists of teams of people building homemade, human-powered flying machines and piloting them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight. They never do, though. So it's basically the Superbowl of putting on ridiculous costumes, building stuff and pushing it off a ledge into water. And yes, this is as funny and entertaining as it sounds. When it comes to free entertainment, it's hard to beat people falling into water. Costumes and flying machines that don't just add bonus points.
Tampa is one of three cities to host the event this year, the others being Chicago and Portland, Oregon later this summer. Red Bull has sponsored about 40 of these so far and we (Tampa) set an attendance record, more than doubling the 50,000 that had been projected. I'm not surprised; literally everyone I spoke to for the last two weeks was planning on going. I think event planners were caught off guard though.
  • It was scheduled to begin at 1:00 and we got there at 11:00 when gates were supposed to open. But it was obvious that a lot of people had gotten in and set up camp much earlier than that, as evidenced by us ending up where we did.
  • In spite of previously published warnings about things that wouldn't be allowed in, there weren't even cursory bag searches taking place, at least not at the gate where we entered (right outside the convention center).
  • Food and beverage locations were few and far between, which was a matter of major concern because with that many people packed in that tightly, smack in the middle of the day, smack in the middle of July (why didn't they schedule it for later, like around dusk?), remaining hydrated was of vital importance. Just because we were closer to the hospital than the launch pad doesn't mean I wanted to go there. Eventually, even though we drank plenty of fluids, our group just couldn't hang so we left around 2:00 and watched the rest of it from The Press Box. We had a good time but it was just too hot and too crowded to be enjoyable after a while.
  • A group of people who were probably a little put out would be those presenting and attending METROCON which was taking place simultaneously at the Tampa Convention Center. Some of the more elaborately costumed anime fans might have had legitimate concerns about being mistakenly tossed into the drink by overly lubricated enthusiastic Flugtaggers.
  • I don't think there were nearly enough police officers on hand to handle traffic. We left well before the end and we still wound up stuck in pretty thick traffic on the way out. I can't even imagine what it was like when the event was over.
  • Lastly, I don't understand why the city didn't take advantage of the event to publicize the Riverwalk. After all, that's really where it took place. For all the publicity the event got leading up to the big day, there was never a mention of Mayor Iorio's legacy project and it's proximity to the convention center as well as all the exciting cultural/dining/retail shopping opportunities offered in downtown Tampa...or will be some day...hopefully. I don't know. It just seems like somebody in marketing would have thought of that, that's all.

Overall, it was fun but there's lots of room for improvement if/when it comes back.

1 comment:

LC said...

i totally see you in that picture