I spent Saturday at the Tall Ships festival in Waterford city. While I can’t call Waterford my home city for obscure geographical and sporting reasons, it is nevertheless the city of my education and upbringing.
And what a terrific city it is.
The Tall Ships Festival this weekend was easily the best organised event I have ever attended. It would not have been possible without the active involvement of hundreds of dedicated men and women and a project management team that were dedicated to the pursuit of perfection in making the occasion as successful as possible.
It was quite clear, right from the beginning, that the organisation was top class. Some examples:
Most of the city was cleared of traffic, creating an enormous pedestrian zone, the likes of which I have never seen. Park and Ride car-parks were in place with numerous shuttle busses and taxis taking visitors to and from the city.
Litter collectors were out in force, ensuring that the streets remained clean and the bins remained usable despite the huge crowds.
Toilet facilities were clean, numerous, and plentiful.
There was a large fun-fair, a crafts village, a food village and a music venue, allowing visitors to enjoy different aspects of what the city had to offer.
Booklets, signage and literature were very clear and inviting.
The variety, quantity and quality of food and drink outlets obviated any major queues or bottlenecks. This also ensured that prices remained reasonable.
Crowd barriers were sensible and unobtrusive. Indeed, security, while probably quite extensive, was very low-key.
There were numerous fringe events and street performances.
The city looked great. The shops and venues were brightly painted and inviting.
Without doubt, many arrangements were in place far away from the eyes of tourists and visitors, such as ramping up hospital staff and emergency staff should the need have arisen.
Did I mention there were ships there too?
When it comes to an event like the Tall Ships, Waterford has a natural advantage: a port area slap-bang in the centre of the city. It was chosen to be the first city on the race route, and it’s no wonder it has been invited to host the ships again in a few years time. This was a world class undertaking. The people of Waterford should be proud of what they accomplished this weekend. Future festival organisers now have a gold standard which they must aspire to meet.