The Grand Opening of your Yogi Bear's Jellystone park Camp-Resort
will probably be your greatest public relations effort since you
first signed your franchise and began construction (or conversion)
of you facility.
Through the distribution of our corporate news releases and your
own media releases, through your advertising and any pre-opening
promotions you may have carried out, many people are already aware
of the existence of you campground or of the fact that it has been
Now it is time for a real celebration . . . your "formal"
The purpose of holding a formal Grand Opening is to make the general
public interested enough to visit your new Yogi Bear's Jellystone
Park Camp-Resort, to alert the news media and entice their visits,
and to create a feeling of good will in your area. All of this will,
in turn, help to accomplish your main objective - filling your park
Holding a formal Grand Opening is also your best assurance of getting
political dignitaries - the mayor, perhaps the governor or a senator,
or some well-known personality to attend. If you are successful
in getting a commitment from any important officials or celebrities,
you will find the news media more than willing to cover the event.
By the same token, if these people know that there will be good
press coverage, they will be glad to attend.
If yours is a newly constructed campground, we suggest that you
delay any formal Grand Opening until at least a month or two after
you have been open to camping. It gives you a chance to finish any
detail work, and to polish up the campground in preparation for
the big day.
How to Proceed
On the following pages, we will outline the basic steps in planning
and conducting a successful formal Grand Opening celebration. We
will include suggestions as well as examples of things which have
been done at other Jellystone Park Grand Openings.
The size and complexity of your opening will depend upon the amount
of money, time and effort you want to expend. Regardless of whether
you set a modest figure, or go all out, carrying out the details
of your celebration in a precise manner will result in a successful,
well-organized day which you will be proud of, and which should
produce many good results for your Camp-Resort.
The first consideration in planning a Grand Opening is "How
much do I want to - or how much can I afford to spend?"
Set a Budget
Decide on a budget. Probably the most practical approach in setting
your budget is to allocate a figure for your advertising and promotion
for the first six months of your operation, and earmark a portion
of this figure as "Grand Opening Expenses." In this endeavor,
advertising, promotion, and public relations are tied closely together.
And because a good deal of your Grand Opening expense does involve
advertising, you advertising program should be closely correlated
to your Grand Opening activities.
Set a Date
Set a date. Ideally, this should be set at least two or three months
in advance. The more time you have to plan and prepare, the easier
it will be and the more smoothly you Grand Opening will run. It
is best not to choose a holiday weekend for your affair. There are
usually other things planned on holiday weekend anyhow. Choose a
weekend when there is nothing special going on.
In this stead, check with your Chamber of Commerce or area information
center before setting you date, to be certain that your date does
not conflict with any other important event being held in the community.
It is also wise, before
firming up your date, to check out the availability of any important
persons you are inviting to attend, such as political dignitaries,
or a well-known celebrity. In some cases, you may wish to change
your preferred date to firm their schedules.
Who's in Charge?
Appoint a coordinator for your Grand
Opening. This person should be in complete charge, with all other
persons assisting reporting directly to the coordinator. The size
and complexity of your event will determine the amount of help needed.
If it is possible, have one person responsible for each event or
each segment of the day's program.
You're Guest List
Plan you guest list. Begin with the "VIP's" such as the
governor and state officials, then county and local officials. Prepare
personal letters of invitation for these people. Compile a list
of other persons whom you wish to invite - such as heads of businesses
and industry, Chamber of Commerce officials, and the like. Your
Chamber may be able to help with this list.
New Media List
Prepare a small press kit or press packet for each person on your
news media contact list whom you intend to invite. This should include
all local and area newspapers, periodicals, and radio and television
stations within a 50 mile radius of your campground. Most of them
will not be able to attend - but the press kit will spark their
interest, and may lead to a story later on.
The Press Kit
The press kit should include the following: a personal letter of
invitation to the Grand Opening, an RSVP card for them to return,
a detailed news release, a brochure or flyer, one or two photos
of your park (if possible), and an outline or preliminary agenda
of a day's events. Yogi Bear postcards, imprinted with your message,
make ideal RSVP cards.
Decide whether your budget
will allow the expense of hiring a guest celebrity or personality
to attend. It is difficult to get anyone well-known to appear gratis,
unless you know them personally, or have "connections".
If you know of any local or regional charity in which some "name"
person is active, you might contact their nearest representative
for assistance. You might then plan to hold a "Yogi Classic
for Charity" - a miniature golf tournament in which all proceeds
go to the charity selected. With this kind of promise, the charity
itself may be able to obtain someone for you. Arranging something
like this is excellent for publicity purposes, and helps to get
the news media interested in covering the Grand Opening.
Invitations should also be sent to any camper clubs and motor clubs
in your area. And, if yours is an operating campground which is
converting to the Jellystone system, you may also want to invite,
by means of a flyer or postcard, your regular customers.
Plan Your Program
Plan your events. The Program or agenda for your Grand Opening
will be determined largely by the amount of money you wish to spend.
Although there are many types of events that you may plan which
do not cost much, except in time and effort, there are others which
A large budget does not necessarily mean a better Grand Opening
Party. Some of the best Grand Openings we've seen have been accomplished
with less money but with lots of ingenuity. If your budget is limited,
concentrate on events which have little cost.
Everybody loves a parade . . . especially a Yogi Bear parade!
Its a great way to begin your Grand Opening festivities. The cost
is nominal, but there is time and effort involved.
It is best to plan to have the parade within the park, for you
want to be sure that spectators are within the park for the rest
of the day's activities.
You might begin by arranging for the services of a band. Very often
the local high school band is available without fee, or for a token
donation to the band fund. If there is a drum and bugle corps in
the area, they may be willing to take part for a token fee. Invite
your local troops of Boy and Girl Scouts. One or both of these groups
will also take charge of the flag-raising ceremony if they are asked.
Many communities have special costumed persons who love to participate
in a parade. The people should be invited. You may want to invite
local merchants to take part, too. Be sure to have a clown or two.
Very often the local police and fire departments are willing to
cooperate, and they may offer to have a fire engine and a police
car in the parade. Miss Jellystone (to be chosen in your park),
and any other local beauty pageant queens should be invited. Your
VIPs should be in the parade.
All VIPs, queens, etc. should ride in convertibles, which may be
furnished by one or more of your local auto dealers. Appropriate
signs should be furnished.
The parade, led by Yogi Bear, with Ranger Smith, Boo Boo and Cindy
following, should begin at the Ranger Station, go all through the
campground, and end at the ranger station, where the ribbon-cutting
and flag-raising ceremony take place. The band should be set up
nearby, and can be invited to play for a short period of time until
the program is ready to begin.
Flag-Raising and Ribbon-Cutting
Your program should begin promptly at the time it has been scheduled
for. Keep it brief. Enlist the services of a good master of ceremonies,
who will make all the introductions and keep the program moving
along. Persons who have been invited to speak should be cautioned
to keep speeches brief.
Enlist the aid of your local Boy or Girl Scout Troop leader and
have the Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts, conduct the flag-raising ceremony.
They do a fine job. As a recompense, you might offer the use of
your campground to the troop for an overnight camp-out.
With the emphasis on ecology, and with the provision of nature
trails in many of our campgrounds, you might consider an ecology
The ribbon cutting is
the final portion of this part of the program, and is usually done
by the most important person there (such as the governor, or a senator,
or the mayor), assisted by the park owner and Yogi Bear.
Be sure to have a photographer there. Although there
may be news photographers present, for an occasion such as this,
it is wise to arrange for a photographer in advance, so that you
will be sure to have the necessary pictures for publicity and promotion.
The most commonly used event, and one which takes the least time
and money, is the RV exhibit.
Local RV dealers in your area should be contacted well ahead of
time, informed about the date for your Grand Opening, and invited
to display their latest models at your campground. Campers and non-campers
alike enjoy viewing these models.
Arrange to have an adequate display area for the number of units
If you are fortunate enough to have in attendance some celebrity
or well-known personality, play it up in a Miniature Golf Tournament,
"Yogi's Classic for Charity". Conversely, if you
are featuring the Charity Mini-Golf Tournament, plan early to try
to line up a personality to use. A sports personality is great -
and may not be too difficult to arrange for. As we mentioned earlier,
the charity you choose may be able to assist you in obtaining someone.
It is worthwhile trying. Choose a children's charity - a hospital,
children's home, foundation, etc., and try to work through
Schedule your hours for the tournament, usually from about 1 pm
to 4 or 5 pm. You might consider having three classes of play: Pee-Wees,
Intermediate, and Adult. Have each entrant put his or her age on
the score card.
Try to have your VIPs play a game of mini-golf and post their scores,
so that others playing can try to match or better them. Since it
is for charity, you may be able to charge $2 for each entrant.
Award trophies in each class.
Attendents will want to
have their pictures taken with Yogi, Boo Boo, Cindy and Ranger Smith.
A popular activity would be taking pictures in a designated area
and making souvenir buttons or souvenir magnets for refrigerators.
Contact LSI on where to obtain equipment for making the Yogi Bottoms.
Some campgrounds have been successful in presenting a fashion show
as part of their Grand Opening program.
Usually one or more stores in the area will welcome the opportunity
to hold a fashion show, if they know that it will be well attended.
This is an event that rarely takes much time and effort once you
have a commitment from the stores, as they coordinate their program
themselves, and usually do the commentary as well. The accent, of
course, is on sports and leisure wear and swim wear. You should
include children's and men's ware, too.
The deck of the swimming pool is a perfect place to hold your fashion
show. If the stores involved do not care to handle the commentary,
you might even be able to have a local radio of TV female personality
Miss Jellystone Contest
A contest to select Miss Jellystone can generate a lot of interest,
and will result in some pre-opening publicity. You could also have
a junior Miss Jellystone for the children.
Set down simple rules, age limit, etc., and invite area competition.
Selection could be made prior to the Grand Opening, with the queen(s)
and court(s) riding in the parade, or the selection could be announced
and the queen crowned during the ribbon-cutting ceremony program.
Time should be set aside to show Yogi Bear Cartoons. This is an
activity both children and adults could take part in. Your pavilion
is an ideal location. Don't forget to have popcorn!
Water Show or Aquatics Program
Another appropriate and popular event at a campground is a water
Most high schools have a swim team, and many of them would welcome
the opportunity to perform in a water show or aquatics program for
a token payment to the school or Swim Club. Or your local YMCA probably
was a swim team which might perform. Generally, the swimming instructor
makes all the necessary arrangements and also announces the program.
All you need to provide is the swimming pool and PA system.
If the group is performing gratis, be certain to treat them to
food and refreshments. You might issue each member of the team several
passes to your mini-golf course, or use the water slide, etc.
If your campground has a stable, or is located near one, a horse
show is a good event to hold. A local horseman's club or riding
club might also be prevailed upon to perform.
You will have to provide an adequate area for their use. If it
is to be a competitive event, you will have to provide trophies
Band or Combo
Live music is one of the most important
items to arrange for in the Grand Opening. It keeps things moving,
and keeps people interested. If you are having a high school band,
perhaps you could arrange for them to have a short (20 minutes or
If your campground has a tennis court or a roller skating rink
you might consider outdoor dancing for an hour or so with a combo
Square-dancing is also very popular in many areas, and a local
square dance club might be willing to perform.
Other special entertainment which would be appropriate for your
Grand Opening might include a magician (have him/her involve the
audience in the act), or clowns, which are always popular. Some
of them make animals out of balloons, and this is especially good
for the smaller children.
Yogi Bear Skit
A Yogi Bear skit of some kind should
be a part of your day. If your Yogi Bear Outdoor Theater has a stage,
your skits and other special entertainment should be held there.
Drawing for Prizes
A prize drawing is always popular.
Although many times local merchants are willing to donate prizes
in exchange for advertising, usually the time involved in soliciting
for such a project is too great. It is best to provide your own
prizes - free weekends of camping, Yogi Bear stuffed animals, tee
shirts or sweatshirts, and camper supplies are appropriate and welcome
prizes for your drawing.
Food and Refreshment
It is best to arrange for a noon meal of some kind in order to
keep everyone at the campground for the entire day. If your campground
has a restaurant, you may wish to handle the food services yourself.
If not, you might consider having a catered meal, with the park
receiving a certain percentage of the gross.
Serving a specialty of the area is
one suggestion - you could have a Western barbecue, or Southern
fried chicken, etc. Have available plenty of short order items from
your Goodie Shoppe in the event of "special" sells out.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza should be available for purchase.
You might wish to sponsor some type of informal get-together for
the news media and your distinguished guests. A press party is sometimes
held the evening before the event. Or you may simply want to provide
tickets for free refreshments or meal to the members of the media
and your dignitaries.
Another way is to hold this press gathering at the end of Grand
Opening day festivities, in which case the party could be held off
the premises. Remember, you are "courting" your news
media contacts so that they will give you good coverage!
Since the most important people at your Grand Opening are your
campers, you should plan special activities which they alone are
eligible for. Offer a special rate for opening week and for the
Grand Opening weekend. Invite your campers to participate in the
parade with costumes, offering special prizes in different categories.
Perhaps a prize for the best decorated bike in the parade could
be given. Coloring or drawing contest for the camper children are
popular. Whatever you do, make your campers feel that they are the
most important people in the campground . . . For They Are!!
Your date has been set,
your guests have been invited, and you and your Program Coordinator
have planned a scheduled agenda for your Grand Opening. You have
also set a tentative time schedule for the events which make up
Your Program Coordinator should prepare a Master Work Sheet, taking
each event by category and listing each thing that has to be done.
(You will find that you are adding to this list as the weeks go
On the Master Work Sheet,
the Coordinator should indicate who will be in charge for each event
or each task. Then an Assignment Sheet should be prepared for each
person assisting. As the various tasks are accomplished, the assistants
will check them off, reporting to the Coordinator, who will in turn
check off the items from the Master Work Sheet. In this way, little
details will not be forgotten. The key is in preparing your Master
Always remember that your most effective
advertising is the kind money can't buy . . . the kind of advertising
which is known as Public Relations. Use any contacts
you might have to get on some of your local radio and television
Stop by to see the editors of some of your area newspapers. Check
your media list for TV and radio newscasters' sportscasters
- women's talk show - travel and vacation shows. Don't
be discouraged if you get refusals. If you succeed in getting just
one or two persons who will give you coverage, it will be well worth
your time and energy.
Advertise locally at the time. Several ads in your local newspaper
and on your local radio stations will help to "grease the
skids", and will make the media more receptive to your requests.
Many times this is a factor in whether or not the media will grant
you news coverage or air time.
You should already have sent out several news releases about your
Grand Opening. A short release (tip sheet) can go out first, and
a more detailed release can be a part of your press packet, or should
be sent out with your invitations.
One of the earliest items of preparation will be making arrangements
to have your printing work done - letters of invitation for those
who do not get personal letters, RSVP cards, agendas, maps, Grand
Opening flyers, etc. These will have to be designed and then printed
or copied. Printers, too, work on tight time schedules sometimes
- try to allow adequate time for the items you are having commercially
If you can afford to do so, have a
professional photographer take a representative selection of photos
at your Camp-Resort. These can be included with your press packets,
and are also useful any time that you submit a story about your
Your press packet for the Grand Opening should include a cover
letter of invitation, slanted to the news media, a detailed news
release about the day's program, one or two photos of the
park, a park brochure, and RSVP card, a copy of the day's
agenda, and, if you are having any tip off press party or gathering,
and invitation to this event. The packets should be mailed out at
least three weeks prior to the date of the Grand Opening.
Public Address System
If you do not have P.A. systems at your campground, arrange for
the rental of one for the day. Any local shop which deals in electronics
should be able to supply this. Arrange for someone to operate it,
and for taped music at all times when another event is not being
Arrange for plenty of help for this day. You will need a hospitality
desk or booth for this day. You will need a hospitality desk or
booth for guest and news personnel to register, with at least two
persons to service it. You will need additional help behind the
counter and for your store, also for comfort station cleaning, for
the Goodie Shoppe, and for each part of the program. See that one
person is in charge of each event as it is being held, in the case
of any last-minute problems.
Last Minute Preparations
At least one more news release should be sent a week or several
days before the opening. It could be slanted on someone important
who has promised to attend, or on one of the events of the day.
You should also have an ad or two in the local papers just before
the big day.
Caution your Coordinator to keep in close contact with all the
assistants, and as each detail is worked out and completed check
it off the master work sheet.
Arrange for additional parking areas for the day, and appoint one
or two persons to be in charge of parking.
If you are having a "Miss
Jellystone Park " contest, arrange for judges, a criteria sheet,
a banner, crown, etc. All contestants should be awarded some kind
Arrange for cars for your officials, other dignitaries, and "queens".
Local car dealers are usually willing to help out.
Compile a list, based upon RSVPs returned. Get supplies for registration
book, brochures, agendas, and anything else needed - guest book,
pens, etc. Have Yogi pins on hand to present as guests register.
If you are having anything special for your news conference, arrange
for catering, or for preparation if the party is not being catered.
Outline the parade sequence for your master of ceremonies if you
are having a parade and he is required to announce it, also the
sequence for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. A good witty master of
ceremonies will make the affair enjoyable.
The Yogi characters - Yogi, Cindy, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith, should
be on the grounds almost constantly on this day. Arrange to have
several persons play the characters. The costumes are warm, and
it is quite uncomfortable to have them on for any length of time.
Set a schedule for the bears on a rotating basis, so that no one
has to stay in costume for more than 15 or 20 minutes.
The "big day"
has finally arrived! Your assistants and all employees should be
in place well in advance of the time set to begin, so that they
can be briefed, and know exactly what is expected ofthem.
Owners and managers should be on hand to greet the dignitaries
and news personnel who attend. Your reception committee - the persons
staffing the hospitality desk - should make you aware of whom the
dignitaries are as they register. Use name tags (for extra staff
also) so that identification is easier.
It is up to the Program Coordinator
to keep events running smoothly and on time. When you set up your
schedule, allow a little time between events, so that if something
take longer than expected, you will not get too far behind.
Very Important: Yogi, Cindy, Boo Boo and Ranger
Smith should be on the grounds almost constantly during this day.
People love to take pictures of their children with the characters
and they should be available for this purpose.
If you have planned well and have used a good check list from the
very beginning, your Grand Opening should run smoothly, and is bound
to be successful!
Post Opening Follow-up
Your Grand Opening is over . . . and was a resounding success.
But there is still work to be done to tie up all the loose ends
on this important piece of PR and promotion.
A release, with pictures, should be sent to all news sources who
did not attend. (Those who did attend will write their own story.
You might, however, ask them if they would be interested in having
some pictures, providing they did not take any themselves.)
Thank-you notes should be sent to all those who assisted or who
performed services of any kind.
Continue your PR efforts in the weeks that follow - don't
let the media forget about you!
Important Note: Although the material in the preceding pages is
geared to a Grand Opening celebration, it can be used for any type
of event or party you might be planning. Adapt portions of the material
to some of your special weekends, promotions, or public relations