By Baylie Hammitt, junior, recreation administration

Editor’s Note: As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Camp Fire, we are honoring its impact on our community with a series of stories embracing the themes of remembrance, recovery, and resurgence.

With the anniversary of the Camp Fire coming up, I knew I wanted to be a part of something to memorialize it. Allen Myers, the visionary behind the Paradise Revival Festival, gave my class and me the opportunity to help plan an event to help the community heal.

The idea behind the Paradise Revival Festival was to have live music, food trucks, and a series of healing workshops and discussions for everyone to enjoy. With the event scheduled for October 12, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to help Allen plan, but my classmates and I in professor Kelli McCrea’s “Special Event Planning and Operation” course were all so motivated because of what this event would mean to the community. Personally, I wanted to do something meaningful because I knew how much the Paradise community would appreciate it.

Together as a class, we tackled the logistics of marketing, decor, volunteers, food and beverage, and logistics. I was a part of the marketing team, and I found that the community response to social media posts was incredible. Our first task was to create a flier that would inspire people to want to attend and be a part of the day. My classmate, Megan Isola, who was also on the marketing committee, went through a few different ideas before finally landing on the perfect one. We included the logo of the Paradise Revival Festival at the top, and then made sure to put the proper information very clearly in the middle. It was very important to Allen that we showcased the local bands that would be playing, so we made sure to highlight that as well.

From the very beginning, everyone who heard about the event was so excited to be a part of it, and that alone made me even more motivated to help pull this event off. Some of my classmates who helped pass out fliers told me how almost every person they talked to about the festival was enthusiastic about coming, and that kind of community excitement is what made all of us more motivated to make the event the best it could be.

The phrase "Hope that the sun will rise again, even on the darkest days. Stay gold" is painted on a backdrop of snow-capped mountains with a sun rising behind them.
Festival guests painted images of hope and inspiration to decorate a large “Paradise Revival” banner. (Photo courtesy of Roisin Quirke)

I personally was in charge of promoting via social media, which I was actually very excited to do. I’ve always been interested in how to engage people through different social media platforms, and now I had the chance to try it out for myself.

I had a lot of fun playing with different things through social media, and eventually found that our Facebook page was becoming really successful. We had started to get a lot of engagement on posts, and the community was actually responding to the posts. I’m happy I had the opportunity to do this part of marketing, and I’m sure that I’ll be able to use some of the things I learned in my future career. I posted every few days, teasing about everything from what type of food trucks people would like and soliciting artists to display their work to promoting healing workshops and showcasing the musicians who would perform. I loved seeing the anticipation build.

People's backs face the camera as they sit on yoga mats and meditate in a large open room, as a guitar player sits on a chair in the background.
Many festivalgoers took a break from the music, painting, and conversation to take part in a quiet guided meditation. (Photo Courtesy of Heather Sweet)

On the day of the event, you could really feel the excitement from everyone who was helping set up. We gathered at Terry Ashe Recreation Center early in the day, and being able to see all of our hard work come together was something I can’t even describe—it was almost surreal that the day had finally come. I know that Allen was beyond excited, and my classmates and I were as well.

I think in total we spent about three hours getting all of the decorations, vendor stations, and other aspects of the event all set up before the event started at 11 a.m. There were a few last-minute things that needed to be done, too, but overall our teamwork is what really helped us out. Everyone was working so hard to make sure everything went off without a hitch, and seeing the reaction of the community is what really made it all worth it. The excitement and hope in the faces of those community members was so apparent—everyone was simply happy with being able to celebrate their community with each other. People were able to converse and tell their stories, and most importantly they were able to support one another. Children were able to run around and play, and I really think the happiness that they were radiating made the day that much better.

I truly felt as if the whole day was meant for healing—from the beautiful weather to the lively music, everything and everyone were happy to be part of the Revival. I can’t even tell you how many people I talked to said that they were so happy that this event happened, and I had so many people comment on how they hoped to see more events like this. One big thing I thought about throughout the event was that if it went so well this year, I would love to see it become an annual event. By the time it ended at 8 p.m., I was exhausted but so encouraged, not just by what we had made possible but also the hope and resilience within the Paradise community.

A boy sits to have the outline of California painted on his cheek by a smiling young woman while they sit on blankets on the grass.
Face painting was among the many activities to entertain children at the festival. (Photo courtesy of Heather Sweet)

Overall, I think that helping Allen Myers plan this event is something that my classmates and I will never forget. The Revival was a learning opportunity for me and my classmates, and it was one of the best I could have asked for. It wasn’t just any event, it had so much meaning behind it and I felt honored to have been a part of it.

Baylie Hammitt, a junior majoring in recreation administration, hopes to pursue a career in event coordination after graduation.