A TIME TO BE BORN!
Born to be in the events business!
HAPPY NEW DECADE! People ask me how I got into the events business and I tell them I was born into it. At age 4 my parents (the late) Tony & Alberta Canepa started a dancing school in Baraboo, Wisconsin and at the age of 5 I had completed a year of dance lessons and we put on a recital at the local high school. My first recollection of a special event was my appearance on stage at the end of a dance lineup with my younger sisters Bertie and Claire. Later in life Bertie continued the dance tradition and Claire shuffled off to a life that didn’t include dance until her children were born.
The original Dance School began in 1955 and was carried on for over 40 years by my sister Bertie Canepa Reifsteck – she is truly THE “DANCING” CANEPA, the rest of us (10 siblings still living!) just hold her in admiration and awe and we gather to dance our family theme song and traditional dance WHISPERING at family gatherings. (www.canepadance.com)
For my son Christopher, born on 12/5/79, his first appearance at an event was on stage at the historic Al Ringling Theatre at five-months, sporting my youngest brother Tom’s dance costume, a diaper and a smile! His grandmother (my mom) his God-mother Bertie and I were all very proud!
Chris reverted to the behind the scenes work but became a master at all things technical and has a career and life path in computer systems and technology function & architecture. Any time he has a sales pitch he can still do a pretty good tap dance! (www.primetsr.com) Special to me, Christopher and his wife Tina welcomed my #3 grandchild, Bjorn Christopher Jonsson on 1/24/2020.
Moving to Chicago was always a goal for me and as a family we made trips to town as often as we could. As a tap-dancing performance family, we were invited to tap dance in the Columbus Day Parade along with our Italian counterparts and many famous Chicagoans. We joined in the Annual Chicago Christmas Parades, performed at McCormick Place, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. and on Bozo’s Circus. My father’s early years of promotion for our family began with the dance school and a live television show airing on Saturday afternoons in Madison, Wisconsin. The show was called Canepas Capers and featured our family, several classes of students and a ballroom dance lesson given by my parents. Appearances on yearly fundraising telethons in Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin gave me a chance to observe the world of special events at an early age. PR and events were my passion and that continues to this day!
My first events business was the corner Kool-aid stand that I operated as the President & CEO. The staff was way too many neighbor kids and of course my younger brothers and sisters. Too much overhead!
I moved along to organizing and planning birthday parties at age 15 – I orchestrated the games, prizes and activities and the parents were assigned the catering: the hot dogs, chips, drinks and cake. As I got older, I even drove the kids’ home from the party!
As I tell my Columbia College events students and anyone else who wants to know, that if you want to be a success in the events business, you must like people! And it helps to be born with that character trait! Ask any showman!
Alex Rausch was the baby in my best friend's Rick & Gwenn Rausch’s family. His older sister Aryn and brother Eric had already been roped into special events with me through their childhood friend Christopher. Events always need people and kids, and pets are good for media and publicity. From running events to face painting to photo opportunities with Santa and the Easter Bunny and from media stunts to Halloween parties it always helped to have a “staff” of youngsters to bring into the project.
The 1997 Easter at the White House event in Washington D.C. was Alex’s first event. At 4 he came to the event along with his parents and sat at the elbow of his older brother Eric, whose job it was to take 1500 polaroid photos an hour of people lined up to tour the Boston Market Space Station Tent.
Fast forward 24 plus years and Alex is a multi-talented young event professional and the Head of Operations HYROX North American Headquarters based in New York NY - he is managing the US rollout of a new series called HYROX that is a combination of HIIT (High intensity interval training) and an 8K race. Hyrox is planning to host 13 events for our next 'season' 2020/2021.
Jane meets Alex Rausch at Navy Pier Hyrox event on January 25 and granddaughter Elliana joins in as a volunteer!