Election year always brings excitement to the Greenville community, and this year was no exception! The Old Cigar Warehouse had the privilege of being the venue for CNN’s first Republican Town Hall in Greenville, SC. Hosted by Anderson Cooper and featuring former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Iowa Caucus winner Ted Cruz, CNN’s Town Hall brought much needed individual exposure for each candidate as they prepared for the Republican primary on February 20, 2016.
Sunday afternoon and into early Monday morning CNN began loading in equipment and setting up inside of the venue, transforming our Main Hall into the perfect set to host an internationally televised event. Our venue managers worked around the clock with the CNN Town Hall producers as Audio Solutions took over the technical side to ensure that all audio visual needs in the venue were television ready. As soon as CNN began moving into The Old Cigar Warehouse, Bravo1 Protection joined the secret service and security detail on site 24/7 to watch over the venue.
Beginning Monday afternoon, Old Cigar Warehouse staff began work into the night with the CNN camera crew to make sure that camera angles were just right, that chairs were in the perfect location, and that all microphones worked properly. Venue staff also assisted in rehearsing as candidates, questioners, and audience members, assisting CNN producers in making sure that everything would run smoothly once the time came for the Live event. To give the future audience a taste of what was to come the next night, CNN had Gloria Borger broadcast live from outside of The Old Cigar Warehouse while our staff busily prepared inside for the big event.
Wednesday morning began with the integration of even more CNN staff as personnel from New York and Washington, D.C. flew in to join their colleagues from the Atlanta and Columbia branches. Rehearsal took place throughout the early afternoon until it was definite that every camera angle was set and every space for the candidates was TV-ready.
Once the Secret Service, Greenville County Police, and Bravo1 Protection completed a full security sweep of The Old Cigar Warehouse, Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett arrived to prepare for the live broadcasts in the Main Hall.
Guests entered The Old Cigar Warehouse at 6:30pm. The Old Cigar Warehouse staff ushered guests and VIPs to their seats for the Town Hall, including Mayor White. While guests were being seated, Erin Burnett broadcasted her show, Erin Burnett OutFront, from the top of the staircase of the Main Hall.
After all audience members were seated and the candidates had arrived to a private room many brides know as our Bridal Suite, Anderson Cooper descended down the staircase and welcomed the audience to the Town Hall before filming of his show, AndersonCooper360, began in the Main Hall.
Once the Town Hall began, excitement filled the room, especially when Cooper introduced the night’s first candidate, Dr. Ben Carson. The excitement didn’t cease, even after Carson finished answering questions. He exited to loud applause as Anderson broke for the second commercial break of the night.
Following the commercial break, Senator Marco Rubio entered from where he had been waiting in the Bridal Suite. During his time speaking with the audience and answering important questions, Senator Rubio expressed how meaningful it was to him to be in The Old Cigar Warehouse as a presidential candidate since his father used to work and spend time in Cigar Factories as a young man.
The final candidate of the night was Senator Ted Cruz, who made good use of his time during the Town Hall by making sure that our audience knew exactly where he stands on each important issue asked by the audience. Once Anderson Cooper concluded the evening and broadcast, Ted Cruz stepped down into the crowd for a few moments to take a few selfies with supporters before being escorted from the Main Hall.
Audience members swarmed the stage to get a few pictures with Anderson Cooper, who treated each guest with kindness and took every picture with the same amount of enthusiasm. He also took the time to meet The Old Cigar Warehouse’s venue owner, Tammy Johnson, and took a picture with our staff before it was time for him to head to Columbia.
The CNN staff wasted no time taking down the set, helping our staff with loading up chairs at the end of the night. Working with CNN was an honor and privilege, but more importantly, a pleasure.
Thanks to Lauren Miller Photography for capturing the behind the scenes photos!