Anna Marie Rembold // President Anna Marie Events, San Francisco

What does your company do?
We’re a full-service corporate event and special event planning firm. Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups.

Have you planned any recent events in a San Francisco Bay Area park?
We planned an annual outdoor corporate picnic for Zendesk, a locally based software company, in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in September 2016. We had previously planned their 2015 event in Roberts Regional park in Oakland.

Were the parks a good choice for this audience?
We needed a venue that could support a wide range of activities to satisfy the demands of a young, active workforce of 600 employees and their partners. The parks gave us plenty of outdoor space for badminton, lawn bowling, chess games, giant Jenga and even ping-pong, plus a soccer tournament as the main event. Signage was used throughout the area to clarify game rules and keep teams on point about the timing of scheduled activities.

What challenges did you face?
Summer 2016 was even colder than usual in San Francisco, with the number of foggy, cold and sunless days breaking records. This posed a dilemma—how do you turn a foggy San Francisco day into a fun corporate event?

How did you accomplish this?
Our solution was to create outdoor warming huts to provide inviting opportunities for team members to shelter and mingle in a more intimate space while warming up between outdoor activities. We outfitted those warming huts with comfortable cushions for lounging. By adding some fun gaming opportunities and serving libations and snacks, we created a mini event within the main event. Once warmed up, the Zendesk team was ready for action with lots of outdoor events to keep the adrenalin pumping.

What advice do you have for planners using a park for an event?
You have to know that the park service is your partner and understand the rules. You have to appreciate the fact that they are stewards of the environment, first and foremost. The rules and regulations might seem frustrating, but recognize there is a greater purpose involved. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and know the limitations.