In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 25, 2014

The secret behind the Signature Event’s secrecy

By Elizabeth Harty

The recent announcement of Mayo's Sesquicentennial Signature Event was perhaps unusual as far as announcements go in that it didn't tell us much about what would actually happen at the event. Tom Brokaw, who will play host, suggested it would be "a moment like none other in Mayo Clinic’s history." But what that would entail was left to the imagination. That was not an oversight, according to sources deep inside the planning committee.



We recently met with members of the Signature Event's planning committee in a secret meeting -- in a smoke-filled room with their identities disguised -- to learn what was really going to happen at the event. Okay, there was no smoke-filled room, and our sources were more than happy to go on record. But while they were willing to give us a better sense of what to expect, they still kept things close to their vest. So even though we left with a better sense of the event and a feeling that we did, indeed, need to be there, much of the mystery remains. (They're pretty serious about this.)

Here's what we do know:

The name Signature Event is intended to indicate that this event is the premier event of Mayo's Sesquicentennial recognition and will put an indelible mark on the anniversary year. And it just may be "the most exciting show in Mayo's history."

The model for the event was the opening ceremony for the London Olympic Games in 2012. Admittedly, Mayo's Signature Event doesn't have the budget or the international audience of an Olympic ceremony, but its creators did take a few cues from that event. Notably, while people had a sense of what to expect, there were many surprises. And that's part of the fun. (We can’t wait to see Dr. Noseworthy jump from a helicopter.)

It will be an event. The organization enlisted to help stage the Signature Event, Creative Development International, has been part of Super Bowl halftime shows and Disney Productions. And if you saw the video in the initial announcement, you know they're a little enthusiastic.

There will be some big names -- nationally known performers, celebrities, surprise guests, and "astounding" dramatic and comedic talent -- along with an important role for Mayo Clinic staff. If you missed the initial call for volunteers, check out the many opportunities to be "a part of Mayo history."

There won't be any podiums or lengthy speeches, although we may hear from some inspirational folks, including Mayo patients and their families, as well as Mayo staff. Not to mention some "individuals of profile."

It will be classy. The event is underwritten by Mayo benefactors Larry and Marilyn Matteson, who were excited to be a part of the Signature Event, and performances will honor Mayo's history and legacy, and look to the future and "what could be."

There will be fireworks. We mean that literally. And it's literally the only surprise detail they would offer us. As part of the event's grand finale, there will be a 10-minute fireworks display over downtown Rochester set to live music.

You need to be there. But … there will be opportunities for those unable to attend.  There are rumors certain someones will be there to capture some of the excitement and reaction on video. And, there will be a more-professional video of the event itself available in the weeks after it happens.

You can get more of your unanswered questions (partially) answered on the Heritage Days intranet site. Mayo employees and volunteers can enter the ticket lottery (it's free) by sending an email to (include "Signature Event" in the subject line) or get in on the fun as a volunteer by signing up by Friday, April 4. We're told seating has been expanded, and more than 1,000 tickets remain.

Tags: Community

The link “” to obtain lottery tickets is not working.


Juliane, try We had the address wrong, initially.


If I win the lottery will you fly me and my husband to MCR 🙂

If I don’t win, can I have Daniel Craig, since you won’t be using him in the opening ceremonies 🙂

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