ROSWELL, Ga. — For Chris Ward, going to an event is only second to organizing one.
“I just love being involved at all stages with events,” Ward said. “I actually think I like planning them more than I like going to them.”
Ward is the manager of Roswell’s Special Events division, which was created by the city three years ago. She is the division’s first manager and had previously worked six years for the city as an administrative assistant and executive assistant.
During that time, Ward ran many internal events, including employee benefits fairs and orientations.
“It was a natural progression,” she said.
Ward added that she was drawn to the new division because she has always liked putting together events for friends and family.
“My favorite thing is to look around and see everyone laughing and having a good time,” Ward said. “It makes everything you’ve been working on and sweating over worth it…I just get a lot of satisfaction from seeing it come all together in front of me.”
Aside from vendors and organizers, Ward also works with the police, recreation and parks, and transportation departments to ensure that any safety needs are met and road closings are conducted successfully. This kind of coordination is crucial during road races, Ward said, to make sure both participants and motorists can safely navigate their routes.
One of Roswell’s most popular events is Alive in Roswell, previously known as Alive after Five, which was recently adopted by the city at the July 24 council meeting. It has been a permanent event for the past 10 years and has become a signature event for the city.
Alive in Roswell has been a huge boon to Canton Street and people not just from the metro area, but from midtown and Buckhead as well, Ward said. Before the event, the businesses would close around 6 at night. Now many of them stay open past 9 p.m.
“About five years ago, I noticed a huge difference,” she said “It’s brought thousands and thousands of people to Canton Street. Now, I don’t care what night you go down Canton Street, its busy. And I think Alive in Roswell was the catalyst.”
The city has always been “instrumental” in the event and adopting it was a natural evolution, she added.
Aside from Alive in Roswell, some of the city’s most popular events are the beer and wine festivals as well as The Drake House’s annual Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’.
Each year, Ward and her team put together about 36 events. About 30 of those events are 5Ks and road races, which are mostly for local nonprofits.
Both Ward and Kim Weber, the special events coordinator, encourage people to come to them with event ideas. It’s how new events such as the Wine Festival and Maggie’s Run for the Cure get started in Roswell.