Meet the man behind Uptown’s biggest events, from Speed Street to the Thanksgiving Day Parade

If there has been a major event in Uptown Charlotte in the past 20 years, chances are Center City Partner‘s Robert Krumbine planned it. Krumbine joins Sallie and Alicia in the CharlotteFive podcast studio to talk about how Center City has grown, the role his events have played in that growth and what’s the next big event?

You played a role in developing a lot of the other events that still exist in Charlotte like Speed Street, historic events like the NCAA Final Four…what were the early days like?

“Charlotte was a really different place when I got here. I arrived in 1988. And I like to tell people it was right on the cusp of becoming the city that we know. Things were happening. Mr. McColl was making some real changes to Tryon Street. And it was time for somebody to come in that had a little bit of experience. So I’ve been doing events, really around the country and around the world, and I got here by way of Washington, D.C. It just happened that things didn’t work out there. And I ended up here with my family, and said okay, well let’s see what we can do in Charlotte…

“The very first thing I ever did here was to do the grand opening for the coliseum that used to exist over on Tyvola Road. And it was a huge event. It was big enough that it was covered by all three channels live. Billy Graham actually did the opening…did a prayer…did a little talky talky…We had song and dance and parade. It was all happening, all on that arena floor out there. So it was big. And then the next day the scoreboard crashed through the floor and everybody looked at me and wanted to know what I did. I brought the house down is all I can tell people.”

Is it true that when y’all were hired for the Thanksgiving Day Parade, y’all had only three months to plan it?

“Yeah actually, it boiled down to eight weeks total. We said yes, I went away on vacation. It was Labor Day weekend. It was like five years ago this week.”

I mean did they forget that Thanksgiving was coming up?

“I even asked. I said we’re going to skip this, right, and we’ll do it next year and we’ll pick it up? No. So I spent the very first week sitting by a pool making phone calls to put on a parade…But yeah we did it in eight weeks. It was amazing. We built new floats. We established a workshop. And we do all of that. That’s something people don’t realize. Organizations like ours…downtown organizations around the country don’t really have the kind of staffing that we have. It’s something that’s very unique to Charlotte. And it’s really because of how great the city handles their role. Things like keeping the city clean, having great policing and so on.”

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The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Sallie Funderburk and is a production of the Charlotte Observer and Brian Baltosiewich.

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