Pops at the Post takes a lot of planning

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 27, 2013

It’s not every event that has a line in its budget for a cannon. Pops at the Post happens only one night in June, but planning for the concert takes place nearly year-round. 
The event is now governed by a nonprofit group, Pops at the Post, Inc. This group evolved from a committee which planned the first concert back in 2005, during the newspaper’s centennial celebration. Committee members realized early on that the event could best be served by nonprofit status, and worked diligently to attain it. 
Many of the folks on the board have been a part of this event since its genesis. Current board members include Post Publisher Greg Anderson, president; Audrey Eudy of Fibrant, vice-president; Karen Hurst, a Post ad rep, secretary; Lisa Houston of First Bank, treasurer; along with at-large members Irene Beyer, Bob Setzer, Phillip Winters, Mike Miller, Joe Morris, Betty Middleton; Karen Alexander and Melonie Thompson of the city of Salisbury and David Hagy and Linda Jones from the symphony. 
Anderson came on the board when he became publisher in 2007. 
“It was clearly a unique event — and really cool,” he says. 
Over the years, the committee has developed a timeline of what needed to be done when, streamlining the process even more, Anderson says. “We always knew what we were doing, but we developed things as we went along. As the event expanded, we knew we needed to write everything down. So last year, everything we discussed, we put on a timeline. It’s gotten to be a bigger production as it’s grown.” 
The board expects some 4,000 concert-goers to gather on June 1. 
“We haven’t outgrown our space yet, but we’re pretty close,” Jones says. 
Duties are broken down by category. Fundraising takes place year-round. Pops costs nearly $50,000 to stage, with more than half the budget going to pay the symphony performers and the many law enforcement personnel involved. 
Eudy works with vendors, as she has from the beginning. There’s also developing the theme each year, which falls to Hagy, and promoting the event, which Hurst takes care of. 
Then there’s the logistics piece of the Pops puzzle, a mammoth task shared by many. This includes everything from making sure the trees at First Bank are trimmed at the right time of year, to ordering chairs for VIP guests, pressure washing the loading dock, requesting street closures from the city, scheduling the special section in the newspaper and much, much more. 
There’s also a “Pops at the Post-mortem,” if you will, a meeting following the concert at which board members evaluate the event and discuss what went right and what went wrong, Jones says. “Then we just put it to bed until the fall. Everybody has duties, and we have our timeline.” 
The board has also begun to take advantage of social networking to promote the event. 
“We have involved ourselves in many of the social media sites,” Anderson notes. “We have about 20,000 social media audience among all of our Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We reach out to people to promote Pops, and so do our board members.” 
The board works with a cadre of dozens of volunteers on the day of the actual event — including volunteers from Salisbury High School’s JROTC program, Civitans, the symphony board and Post employees. 
Setzer, who works for longtime sponsor F&M, is another board member who has been with the committee since the beginning. 
“It’s just such a popular community event,” he says. “I’ll never forget when the Post was celebrating its 100th year. As soon as the concert was over, I happened to bump into Paul Fisher. He said, ‘This has to continue.’ That resonated with me. I decided that I wanted to help keep this concert going for years to come.” 
Being part of Pops is daunting but rewarding, Eudy says. 
“Once the sun goes down and the music begins, I see a most amazing sight, and every time it brings tears to my eyes.  I see lovers young and old sitting in chairs and on blankets holding hands. I see fathers dancing with young daughters in the parking lot of First Bank.  I see friends and neighbors coming together to enjoy an evening of music and fellowship. I see teenagers wandering the lots in groups to see who might be in the next parking lot and what might they be missing.  I am so very proud of this event and this community.” 
And yes, board members are already looking ahead to 2014, when the concert will celebrate 10 years. 
“That’s going to be a very, very special evening,” Jones says.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.