Although most of our displays during the tour are held on college campuses, we have a few stops that are just downtown in a city. This Monday we were able to set up the send silence packing display right outside of the Prudential Center in Boston.
City displays are different in a lot of ways. The largest difference is the crowd that moves through. While any display usually has a mix of students, staff, and community members, the cities provide an even wider and more evenly distributed group. You never know who might be passing through and interacting with the display at any given moment—we have tourists, students, business people, families, and just about anyone you could imagine. As different as this might appear at first, we’ve found that the reception is just as strong. City displays truly show us that this issue has a far reaching impact. We always mention that even though we primarily work with undergraduates, this issue affects all of us and the resources can be available for anyone, and our interactions in the city help us put those words into action.
Boston welcomed the display warmly, even if the weather didn’t. As we’ve discussed previously in our travels, we enjoy doing outdoor displays whenever possible. When we saw the forecast of 50% showers for Boston, we were a bit torn. We had the amazing Meg Hutchinson lined up to perform during the event, and we thought that her sound and the visual of the display would be such a great mix outside of the Prudential Center. We decided to risk the weather and do the display outdoors.
This started off great, we’re extremely happy with how the event ran throughout the uncertain weather. Every time a few drops came through, they’d stop almost as soon as they started. We continued to joke about the positive energy of all the volunteers keeping the rain away. As noon approached (which was when Meg was scheduled to perform), no amount of positive energy could keep the showers away.
Even though we got a bit wet, that didn’t stop us, Meg, or the fantastic community at Boston from continuing in the event. Meg played in the rain, Boston brought their umbrellas, and the show continued. I was personally quite moved to see passerby’s stop to interact with the display even in the rain. I think that really says something about how important this all really is.
After Meg finished performing, we decided to pack up and move the display indoors to our rain location at City Hall. Though we didn’t have enough time to set up the entire 1,100 backpacks there, we were able to set out the story bags and have a big final push during the final hours (this time while staying dry).
The city displays, as I mentioned, are both extremely different and curiously similar. I am incredibly proud to have the opportunity to work with this program, and seeing the way these communities come out to support us makes every bit of effort worth it—even in the rain.