As mistress of guerrilla marketing with promotions company Nakturnal, Leigh Yock has strategized campaigns for clients ranging from Rivers Casino and Giant Eagle to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Associated Artists. But when Vitamin Water asked her to organize a Fourth of July event, she faced a new challenge: holding a party on a barge in the Monongahela River. This wasn't going to be as simple as renting the Gateway Clipper for Busta Rhymes.
Enter Ray Matthews, a.k.a. "Uncle Ray," who became her co-promoter. "He's bartended at Firehouse Lounge and New Amsterdam," Yock explains. "Family friends of his own a barge company based in Braddock. We had a meeting with them, and they loved the idea," she says. "We also asked where we could dock it, since I didn't want it to be moving."
Yock discovered she could rent 100 parking spaces on the Mon Wharf from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, who then interfaced with the Fish and Game Commission and the Riverlife Task Force so that no toes would be stepped on. "I needed to get proper insurance and make sure the city was OK with it, but I was told that because it's private property, I didn't need an events permit."
Ready to proceed for her July 4 party with a DJ lineup including Bonics, Nugget, Mad Tom Brown, Strobe, Cutups and Keebs, Yock suddenly had to deal with the Coast Guard, thousands of miles from the nearest shore. "They're telling me I can only have 14 people at a time on the barge [because] of rules involving tonnage and passengers. The Coast Guard has been helpful, though -- they're trying to push it through."
The 21-and-over bash, which will run from 2 p.m. to midnight, is destined to continue even if everyone but the DJs (and a possible live band) has to carouse in the parking lot. "We're doing this thing called 'laser graffiti' which has been done in New York and Sweden -- it uses a video camera, a computer and a laser beam to project on the side of that huge pier."
"This has been harder than I anticipated," Yock says, "which is unfortunate given the fact that it's never been done before in Pittsburgh ... and the whole sexiness of being able to say 'I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat!' Everyone gets excited about partying on a boat."
Andy Samberg and T-Pain could hardly disagree, so if you feel like sporting a nautical-themed pashmina afghan, contact email@example.com for details about what promises to be one of the summer's more unusual soirees.