Michael Jackson “Birthday Party” Prospect Park Saturday, August 29th

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It was exciting and fun to see Prospect Park used for something very different on Saturday as filmmaker and director Spike Lee presented an event for people to come together to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday. Spike Lee originally intended to utilize Fort Greene Park but there was concern that, due to the anticipated size of the crowd, that venue would not be appropriate.  It was then moved to the much larger Nethermead section of Prospect Park.

I have worked many music events, so, when I attend them, I do notice where I think things could be improved.  And perhaps for many in the crowd, it was more than fine to just have a place to celebrate the music and come together.  That being said, I will mention the areas I felt could have been handled differently for a more cohesive, energetic event.

The event was mostly music programmed by a DJ accompanied by images on a video screen, primarily words such as song titles (“I’ll be There,” “Thriller,” “Forever Michael,” “Hey Brooklyn!  Make some Noize!” etc.) and audience shots. The screen needed to be larger and the music should have been piped in from at least one other location other than the front of the staged area — that would have certainly raised the energy level in the crowd.  I mean… they wanted people to dance, right? (Or maybe not.  Maybe it was purposefully kept low key.)  And, when they said there would be “music and videos,” most people thought that meant Michael Jackson videos but apparently not.

The momentum of the event would have benefitted from actual video – or even a picture? – of Michael Jackson. And I understand the need for crowd control measures but the splitting up of the crowd via metal barricades definitely diminished the spontaneity of being at an event in a large public park. I spoke to a few people there but I don’t know what the overall consensus was (if there was one). The event was held from 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, August 29th in the Nethermead section of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  Still, it was a unique idea. People were very aware of it and turned out in large numbers (I don’t have a good sense of how many at this moment – the New York Times “blog” article I read didn’t get into numbers).  And perhaps it will lead to other unique events being presented in our public parks.  Except, maybe those events, while paying attention to “crowd control,” will also leave room for a bit more spontaneity.

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Photos: Cat

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4 Comments

  1. Ixchel

     /  August 31, 2009

    Yes, I agree! The barricades kept us very cramped; I guess to give the camera shot from onstage that “thousands of people” look.

    My burning question was “How do you spin a Michael Jackson TRIBUTE party & REPEAT SONGS??????????????” Clearly MJ had enough music to cover 5 hours without any repeats!
    The crowd took it in stride though.

    I am grateful that Spike did it at all ! Lemon’s poem was right on . The vibe was friendly, fun & loving.

    My fav moment was the actual monarch butterfiles flitting about during, you guessed it “You give me butterflies”. There were dragonflies too but the were just hangers on 😉

    I had a nice day.

  2. Deborah Weaver

     /  September 1, 2009

    I was so happy to be in the crowd to celebrate the most talented man in the entire world! I would’t have missed it for nothing. My son loves him, and so do i. Thanks to spike lee for sponsoring it, he did an awesome job. The crowd was nice, i was afraid of the dragon flies though. Micheal rest in peace, we all love you dearly! Your the best in history!

  3. hi Ixchel and Deborah,

    Thanks for writing. I kept trying to get a shot of the dragonflies -which were out in abundance – but they move too fast! They were pretty amazing. And I missed the butterflies!

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

    Cathryn.
    WSP Blog.

  4. I really wanted to be there but has some family stuff. Seems like I missed a great event.

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