Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Markets may be crashing on Wall Street, but not in Brooklyn!

WARNING: This post is Rated B for Bragging (with no apologies). Proceed with caution: Use of emotional language may cause side effects (feeling of intense pride and in some cases tears).

Our son Aaron never shies away from a challenge. And once he sets his sights on something, you can be sure he will be moving in that direction until he has accomplished his goal, no matter what roadblocks may be put in his way. And even though I am his mom, I can without bias (well maybe a little) say he has once again proven he is unstoppable.

For almost a year, Aaron has been conceptualizing a Brooklyn style, Asian Night Market, something that has never been done in New York. Those of you reading this who live in Richmond or Vancouver are very familiar with the basic idea. We have experienced the Richmond Night Market for many years. Aaron also experienced the real thing in Asia, when he travelled there extensively between his undergraduate and graduate degrees. But what Aaron was cooking up was a hybrid.

Key words are local and independent. Artisans, New York style street food, microbreweries, artisanal wineries, indie bands, all outdoors in tents, under the stars with simple strings of lighting. And of course thousands of 20 to 30 somethings streaming through the narrow walkways until the wee hours, tasting, sipping, shopping, listening to cool music, and interacting with art installations. He decided to call it “The Brooklyn Night Bazaar”.

There is a back-story, but let’s just say that pulling this off is easier said than done. It is risky and expensive and it takes a lot of people and know-how to make it work. Having a dream is one thing, but doing it is quite another story.

But Aaron never gives up.

An opportunity arose for him to test the waters. A one-night blowout event at an ongoing daytime outdoor venue called Dekalb Market. The date was set for October 9th. He had a month to pull it all together.

As the date grew near and everything was falling into place, there was an amazing buzz building about the event online. Everyone was talking about it, including the New York Times — and we realized — we needed to be there.

So, sitting in Tucson in front of a hotel, to get some wifi, we booked tickets to New York leaving from Phoenix. The flight was at 6:00 am on October 9th. That got us in to New York at around 4:00 pm just as the Brooklyn Night Bazaar would be setting up.

Aaron had no idea we were coming. We spoke to him on the 8th and wished him well, told him how proud we were of him. We promised to talk to him after the event.

Our flight arrived a bit early, and we made it to the event location about 4:30 pm. As we entered the gate, we saw the vendors setting up their tables, security guards were taking their places and the first live music act was testing microphones. We saw Aaron from the back rushing somewhere, but we were not able to catch up with him. Almost immediately we saw Eric, Melissa’s brother, who I entrusted with my camera, so that he could document the look on Aaron’s face when he saw us.

It took a concerted effort between Melissa, Eric and a few friends to track Aaron down and make him stop long enough to realize that his parents were “in the tent” so to speak. When he finally saw us, we had time for one hug each, then he was off doing what an event producer does an hour before an event — putting out a million fires, meeting vendors, coordinating all of the volunteers, answering constant phone calls — and doing it all as if this is something he has done a million times before.

But for Aaron, this was the very first time. And he was a natural.

Within an hour, crowds began forming at the gate. By 7:00 pm there were literally thousands of people, either waiting in line, or wandering through the food, music and shopping areas. Music was playing in the performance space. The tables in the tented eating area were full of people chatting above the din of the music, drinking local beer, nibbling on street food. The local artisans were interacting with shoppers and small conversations were starting up everywhere. People were texting and tweeting to friends encouraging them to come.

Aaron’s vision was being actualized in front of our eyes.

At about 11:30, when things were starting to wind down just a bit, we had a chance to sit for five minutes with Aaron at one of the picnic tables. There was still music in the performance space so there was not too much hope of a long conversation. We just sat there, all three of us — beaming. No words necessary.

A good event producer knows that it takes a great team to succeed. Aaron had Joann, Belvy and his crew, Oliver, Melissa and her family and an endless crew of their friends acting as volunteers at his side to make the night a success. But every success starts with a vision. Aaron had a great idea and he made it a reality.

When the clock struck midnight (well maybe 1:00 am), the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, turned back into the Dekalb Market. The tent awnings were rolled up. The vendors packed up their wares, the crowds disappeared and the clean up crews arrived. By that time Marc and I were settled in at Aaron and Melissa’s Brooklyn brownstone, so glad we had experienced this great night under the stars in Brooklyn with Aaron, Melissa and her family, Doug Devora and Josh (who drove in from Princeton and Philadelphia) — dozens of Aaron and Melissa’s friends and thousands of total strangers.

Amazing how soundly you sleep, when your baby, no matter how old he is, has had an outstanding day.

24 hours later, we were back on a plane to Phoenix, to catch up with the last leg of the Broudos Unplugged 35 day car trip. At the beginning of this blog, I wrote a post called “How many trips can you pack into one suitcase”. Now I am wondering, “How many memories can you pack into one trip?”

As for the future of Brooklyn Night Bazaar, stay tuned!

We are so proud (but I guess you figured that out)!

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