Meet Mordecai…the official donkey mascot of the 2008 Democratic National Convention

January 27, 2008

Last night, a group of us from the DNCC made our way out to the National Western Stock Show for the Draft Horse and Mule show, which included the Democratic National Convention donkey mascot contest (more on that in a bit).contestants

The evening started out with races that pitted mule lead teams vs. horse lead teams. Drivers on a mule or horse led slay would race to see which team could complete a series of obstacles. The first team to complete the tasks (loading and offloading bales of hay, navigating cones and barrels) then cross the fish line would win. Believe it or not, the donkeys beat the horses a few times!

The next exhibition was the horse drawn carriage show. These magnificent horses would pull the sleek and beautiful carriages around the ring. There were about 10 teams entered, and the parade of horses was absolutely beautiful.

JudgesLater that evening, ten children who had entered their donkeys in the Democratic National Convention mascot contest paraded their animals before the entire arena of thousands plus some VIP judges, including Sen. Ken Salazar, former Colorado Governor Roy Romer and DNCC CEO Leah Daughtry. Of the ten

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donkeys entered in the contest, a donkey named Mordecai, lead by its 10-year-old handler Sophie Herzog, was declared the winner.

Below check out some news stories from the night’s events.

PoliticsWest

9News

CW2

Reuters

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Leah’s Preview of the National Western Draft Horse and Mule Show

January 25, 2008

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After much anticipation, a panel of judges will choose tomorrow the official donkey mascot for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Our own Leah Daughtry will join Senator Ken Salazar, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Stulp, Elbra Wedgeworth of the Denver Convention Host Committee and National Western president and CEO Pat Grant to make the selection during the National Western Draft Horse and Mule Show. In preparation for the big event, Daughtry shares her thoughts on marrying Western values with a traditional Democratic Party affair such as the Convention and the inside scoop on her trip to Sheplers to buy her first pair of cowboy boots (which are still being broken in). And be sure to check back for photos and video of the winner on Sunday!

The DNCC and the National Western Stock Show Parade

January 19, 2008

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Earlier this week, we posted here about our first experience and impressions of the annual parade in downtown Denver to open the National Western Stock Show. Now, we’re back with video of the big event — a parade of longhorns marching down one of Denvers busiest streets followed by tractors, stage coaches and a menagerie of color and spirit.”A visual manifestation of our West and our Western culture” is how National Western Stock Show President and CEO Patrick Grant described the parade. Click below to hear more of what he had to say, including his thoughts on the opportunity presented by the Democratic National Convention in Denver, as well as comments from Hall of Fame Pitcher and Parade Grand Marshal Nolan Ryan, who spoke to the impact of both agriculture and the Convention on the Colorado economy. Governor Bill Ritter even paused from his saddle to offer a greeting to our DemConvention.com visitors!

Meet the DNCC Team: Bruce Rodgers

January 18, 2008

Earlier this week, the DNCC announced the team that will help craft the overall look, sound and execution of the Convention program, including the stage and podium design for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The team, made up of Bruce Rodgers, Lisa Geers, Bob Dickinson and Pat Baltzell, will work with Executive Producers Ricky Kirshner and Mark Squier to make look and feel of the Convention a most memorable event.

We had the opportunity to ask Bruce Rodgers, Convention Production Designer and creator of Tribe media a few questions about his personal history, his take on stage design, the Rocky Mountain West and the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Q: The first thing people will see when they walk into the Pepsi Center on August 25th will be the stage for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Not to put any pressure on you, but how DO you deal with that kind of pressure when developing a design?

A: Thanks! This is a good first question. For a few months now, my California studio and I have been working hard on the 2008 Democratic National Convention concept. We’re still in the early phases so the pressure is on to create something really special…And I know we are on to something great…

But to answer your question: The pressure on this project is all about creating something that will inspire people visually and speak to people from all walks of life. I deal with this pressure by reminding myself where I come from, my family, my hometown, etc. – that I’m part of the audience of normal people that want a positive exciting outlook on life. Once we’re on site the pressure increases because of the mix of all the technology and architecture and the potential design changes and challenges, but it will all come together. This production team is made up of great live television and DNCC people.Bruce Rodgers

Q: Speaking of pressure, any stories of 11th hour changes or surprises you’ll never forget?

A: Oh yeah! In live television and production there are always last minute changes and surprises…That’s the fun part of my job (and the hectic part)…

Last year’s Super Bowl halftime performance, starring Prince. Normally a halftime performance is already pressure packed — we’re allowed 5 minutes to set up the show, which takes 1,000 volunteers and 200 production staff members to pull it off — and then the actual performance is 12 minutes long. All in front of a live TV audience of 140 million worldwide. It’s our chance to pull off a great moment in TV music performance history.

But for us, and Prince, the pressure multiplied thanks to God’s gift of a huge rainstorm. I remember being there and waiting for our cue to start our set up. The huge set was broken into 20 large portable puzzle piece chunks all lined up like an abstract parade outside of the stadium. While we waited for the 2nd quarter to end, the volunteers and staff and 300 member marching band and 3,000 fans who would be allowed on the field were being pelted by the huge Florida rainstorm.

Not a single person in the production complained or doubted we could pull it off, and we were ready. It was exciting, nerve racking and daunting. What would the rain do to the lighting? Would the stage be too slippery? Would the sound work? Would the stadium audience brave the rains with us? Would the cameras work? Would the clouds allow us to get the blimp shot? Would the pyrotechnics work in the soaking rain?

Once we were allowed to set up, it was mayhem everywhere. We were losing power and lights. We lost camera connections. The sounds coming thru the walkie-talkies sounded like a scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ and as we got closer to the start of the actual performance, the pressure mounted.

Hidden inside one of the set carts was the amazing Prince who would ride out onto the field hidden from the audience. His cart wasn’t completely waterproof, so I know it wasn’t the most comfortable ride, but once the show started and he stepped onto the electric lift to take him up to the stage surface, I saw a performance that will stand the test of time. The cameras and lights and pyro effects and stage all came together. It took a great artist and a great team to give this inspiring performance to the audience. It was very cool to be part of that experience.

Q: Presumably much of your work is done before a show begins. Are you usually on hand to watch? And if so, what’s going through your mind as you watch the public take it all in for the first time?

A: Luckily, with the great people I work with, our shows are fun and huge and exciting. In live TV and show production, there’s an energy that is unique. People who attend live shows and concerts and football games and events such as the Democratic National Convention bring an essence and vibe to the event. They are ready to group together to take part in the event. Anyone who has ever gathered as a large group,  a school or church gathering, or a big ball game or concert knows the feelings that sweep across the room when everyone is in sync. When this happens and I’m in the arena or stadium or concert hall, I blend in and enjoy myself immensely. Feels good to add my part into the mix.

Q: Where did you grow up and what led you to this line of work?

A: I was born in Monahans, Texas and raised 30 miles north in the west Texas oilfield city of Odessa. I’m a 5th generation Texan and proud of it. My father worked in the oilfields driving trucks and my mother was a mom and housewife. My two brothers and I were raised with lots of creative freedom, and we always had music in our lives. We went to church and we had lots of fun being involved in community things. And being in west Texas, we were outdoors quite a bit where the weather and oil industry combine to make for very dramatic memories. All these things have contributed to the way I design and the career I found myself in. I eventually studied architecture and set design at Texas Tech University and then moved to Hollywood to find a career in film and TV. That was twenty years ago. Wow.

Q: You’re building the set for the Super Bowl halftime show again this year. Any previews on what it’s going to look like?

A: Rain is not an option this year because the stadium has a roof. Somehow the lack of rain means more pressure on us. I can’t show you sketches, but I’m allowed to tell you that it will be huge and inspiring. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a great American band, and we have the same team as last year, so I think the audience will love what we’ve created.

Q: Will this be your first show in Denver?

A: I really love the feel of Denver, it’s a great city. This is my first time to do a Denver based project, although I’ve had tours such as Rascal Flatts and Dave Matthews Band perform in Denver.
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Q: Is there anything about the West that inspires you?
A: Being from west Texas I’ve always been inspired by the people, who are larger than life. Texas isn’t the only state that is larger than life — Colorado, New Mexico and California are too. I think people from the West get their inspiration to do great things from each other and from nature. People help us learn and strive, and nature keeps us humble and hopeful.


Western Culture Alive in Denver

January 15, 2008

The West has a unique culture that has been passed down through the generations. Even though farmlands have given way to sprawling suburbs and exurbs, the West is still a place where traditions hold strong.

This week, the National Western Stock Show returns to Denver. It is tradition that on the Tuesday before the show begins,
the residents of Denver are treated to a parade that begins with longhorns, followed by horses and carriages and lots and lots of pageantry. With Gov. Bill Ritter commanding a horse, the longhorns set out down 17th street.

Kept in check by a team of cowboys, the massive beasts were corralled in a small scale cattle drive — right through downtown Denver. I’ve never witnessed anything like this before, and this parade really taught me something about the West. Even though the city skyline may have changed over the years, talking with individuals along the parade route, there is still a cowboy culture that lives on.

When the 2008 Democratic National Convention begins in August, chances are there won’t be any longhorn parades, but throughout our
planning of the Convention, we have learned about the West and what makes it so unique and so colorful. The idea of having the Convention
in the West is to show that Democrats are committed to Western values. And events like the National Western Stock Show give the
Democratic National Convention Committee the opportunity to experience firsthand one of the oldest and most celebrated traditions in Colorado and the West.

Check out our photos from the National Western Stock Show parade.

We’ll have some video up from the parade soon, and we’ll have some more behind-the-scenes video from the DNCC. We’re looking forward to
participating in the National Western Stock Show and its first-ever donkey mascot contest for the Convention, so check back at the blog to see what we’re up to.

See all of our photos here:

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Fresh Paint on the Walls (and in our hair)

January 12, 2008

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Earlier this week, we posted here about our January DNCC Service Days outing at Manual High School with Governor Dean and the DNC Executive Committee. Watch this video to learn more about Manual and see how the DNCC staff worked with the local community to make this school with such a rich history an even brighter place.

Las Vegas Convention Conversations

January 12, 2008

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As reported on our blog Wednesday, DNCC CEO Leah Daughtry packed an overnight bag this week and headed to Las Vegas for a Convention Conversations forum with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. In this video, you’ll see some of the great sites of Las Vegas and meet some of the people who came out to learn more about the Democratic National Convention and how they could get involved in the historic regional opportunities of 2008.