Recently Peter Abraham's thread regarding his attempt to locate his ultra-flexible triax was hijacked by myself, Charles Papert and Peter himslef. The new topic was our memories of the ShowBizExpo (remember them?) East that was held in the ballroom of the Hilton in Manhattan on January 5-7, 1996. The show was memorable for a number of reasons, the biggest of which was the catergory 5 Blizzard of 1996 that shut down the East coast from Baltimore to Boston:
I attended the show as Director of Electrical Engineering for Cinema Products. We were doing our first big rollout of the Master Series on the East Coast and I was along for tech support. I was lucky enough to get to the Hilton first and was given a choice of the rooms the company had reserved. Naturally, I chose the suite the company had rented to allow customers to try the new steadicam out in a less crowded setting than the show floor. You would go to our booth, make an appointment for a demo and then go to our suite to try the unit out. It cut down on lookie-loo's and let the serious cutomers give the unit a real workout.
The show was pretty much the usual until the blizzard buried Baltimore and headed toward NYC. The storm's progress was watched closely so we had lots of warning about what was coming. It started snowing about 11:00 am on Sunday and in a few hours was snowing so heavily that you literally could not see across the street. I was born and raised on the shores of Lake Superior so, believe me, I know blizzards and this was as bad as I have ever seen. Our company founder, Ed DiGiulio, left early to try and get home before the storm. He didn't make it and wound up staying overnight in the only hotel he could get to which was a pay-by-the-hour dive with shag carpeting on every surface and mirrors on the ceiling. Since no one could get in or out of NYC we just stayed at the Hilton until the airports re-opened on Tuesday. It had stopped snowing by Monday morning but the city was buried under 20+ inches of snow.
My most memorable moments:
- Since I had the suite everyone from our company and guests gathered in my room each night to socialize. My mini-bar was completely emptied two nights in a row. I had a $3000.00+ eight-page room service tab (this was also partially due to the fact that everyone ate room-service lunch in my room).
- Sunday night Charles Papert decided "weather be damned" he was driving back to Boston. He left simultaneously with Garret Brown and Larry McConkey who generously offered to help carry his gear down to his car. Charles had an ear-to-ear grin having two steadicam legends carrying his bags.
- I walked into the middle of Broadway about 9:00 pm and there was not a moving car to be seen in any direction. It was kind of an eerie, post-apocalypse vibe.
- Since I couldn't fly back on Monday as planned I had a day off in Manhattan with pay and an expense account. I walked through knee deep snow in pristine Central Park and caught a matinee of "12 Monkeys" in a nearby theater. The theater was packed with New Yorkers taking a snow day. Since the subways were running everything was pretty much open.
- Some adventurous types from upstate snow-mobile'd into the city and rode up and down the streets and across Central Park and then vanished back into the wilds.
- Even a blizzard will not keep NYC cabbies down. Monday morning the streets were partially filled with cabbies trying to make a buck. Each intersection was as slippery as a skating rink and when the light turned red the cabs bounced off each other like bumper cars. I must have seen 20 colisions in 15 minutes. Fortunately everyone was going so slow very little damage was done. Nobody was even bothering to get out of their cabs to check for damage.
That's about all I remember. I invite Peter and Charles to chime in. I gotta say, if you have to get caught in a blizzard having a company paid-for suite in the Hilton on Manhattan is the way to go.