Sam Foxman Plays Peter Pan at St. Louis Children's Hospital Play Date Benefit

By Krystin Arneson
In Culture

The upcoming St. Louis Children’s Hospital Play Date Benefit is brought to you by event designer Sam Foxman—and a healthy dose of childhood whimsy. The event, held Nov. 22 at Union Station, is all about letting adults be kids again, and that means tapping into their senses of imagination and amazement—even if it’s just for a night.

Photo courtesy of Sam Foxman.

Photo courtesy of Sam Foxman.

To evoke attendees’ sense of wonder, Foxman utilized bold colors, and an inverse of all the “rules” kids grow up with: There will be dessert before dinner; the dress code is “playfully chic”; and fundraising efforts will take place in the form of games. Might we mention the entrance is a blow-up obstacle course?

ALIVE worked with Sam Foxman to get all the details for the magical night.

ALIVE: What was the planning process for this event like? 
Event designer Sam Foxman: Whenever we start a project with a new client, we try to understand their core mission objectives for the event. In other words, what the event is supposed to do for the organisation. What are the desired results? Is this a celebration or a marketing tool? Once we get clear feedback on the host’s objectives—which is not as easy as it seems—we start to develop the creative ideas that support the objectives they listed. A lot of event producers start with the trendy, cool creative idea and try to make it fit the organisation—we actually do the opposite.

ALIVE: Where did you draw your inspiration from for the theme?
Foxman: When we were doing our discovery meeting with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital staff, event committee and board members, I asked the question, “What does Children’s [Hospital] do that nobody else in the healthcare space can claim they do better?” The answer was that St. Louis Children’s Hospital really pays special attention to how a kid would feel coming into a hospital for the first time. The hospital staff and doctors have many ways to be welcoming, warm and non-threatening for kids who are experiencing discomfort and illness. They see how it would be through the child’s eyes. Bingo! That was the inspiration for Play Date: For one night, adults could experience a party through the eyes of a child. Plus cocktails, of course!

ALIVE: What about this theme resonates with the guests?
Foxman: I think we all miss aspects of our childhood. Maybe it was playing outside in the yard with the neighborhood gang or going camping with your family. I know personally, I dream of going back in time when I didn’t have the “adult” responsibilities of paying bills, going to meetings or having a job. The idea of letting go of responsibility for one night without fear of looking silly (because everyone will look silly at this event!) is appealing. I think we could all learn something from acting like a kid every now and then.

ALIVE: For which part are you most excited to see the execution of your ideas?
Foxman: My team came up with some pretty crazy ideas for this event. I’m pretty interested to see our guests climbing through a huge blow-up obstacle course to get into the party. I’m also excited to see how creative they get with the tabletop activities: All of our dining tables feature interactive elements. The long tables are completely covered with butcher paper and the centerpiece consists of hundreds of crayons. The round tables feature glass containers of toys and blocks that guests will play with during dinner. To break up each course, we are hosting giant trike races: Imagine doctors, hospital staff and donors racing giant tricycles around a track that loops the circumference of the dining room (helmets provided, of course).

ALIVE: What have been the most interesting events you’ve planned before?
Foxman: In my career, I have been lucky to work with amazing clients who are not afraid to try something new or unexpected. Some remarkable events include A Funktastic Celebration featuring the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown; Mad Hatter’s Ball, a whimsical take on “Alice in Wonderland” through the eyes of the Mad Hatter; a 50th birthday party where the only rule was “there are no rules”; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’s DADA Ball; Mardi Gras Mystery Tour, a blending of Mardi Gras and The Beatles, and the list goes on. It is important to remember that a unique event theme is only half the battle. The event needs to connect with the audience and stir emotion—that’s the good stuff.

The St. Louis Children’s Hospital Play Date Benefit is Nov. 22 at Union Station. For more information, check out the event page. 

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