Thea Timelapse 2017 from The Hettema Group on Vimeo.

The Hettema Group was honored to design and produce the Themed Entertainment Association’s 23rd annual Thea Awards Gala held April 22, 2017 at the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom in Anaheim. It was THG’s third and final year creating the gala—and what an amazing year to be doing so! This year’s Thea Awards were more international than ever before, with award recipients and attendees hailing from all over the globe, and additional audience members participating from distant cities via real-time podcasting. Plus, the gala took place on Earth Day. It was the perfect confluence of events to give this year’s gala a global theme.

THG set out to infuse the gala with a spirit of goodwill, celebrating the coming together of so many diverse talents, all devoted to connecting people everywhere through stories and entertainment. The global theme was reflected in the look of the gala—for example, in illuminated orbs of different sizes suspended in the theater and placed on the tables as centerpieces, all changing color in sync with the arc of the show. And it inspired the uplifting video opening that started things off: a worldwide game of catch the globe. To create the video, THG sent TEA members an inflatable Earth beach ball and asked everyone to return clips of their teams catching the ball and passing it along. THG montaged the clips together to create what appeared to be a continuous game of catch from one team to another.

Throughout the gala, the global theme served as thread in the show media, with an animated globe highlighting the hometown of each honored project in the introduction to each segment. The winning projects were a wonderful mix of thoughtful, thrilling and transformative experiences from around the world—all having created something out of the ordinary and memorable.   

THG upped the fun of this year’s production with moments like a reading of the Thea Award rules by swashbucklers inspired by Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and the serving of giant Simpson’s donuts from Lard Lad in Universal’s Springfield land. And we upped the action with a grand finale surprise invasion of Smokers from Universal’s WaterWorld stunt show, including a plane landing on stage (via video) accompanied by a huge splash of confetti onto the audience.

It all added up to an uplifting night to remember and earned THG many thanks and compliments. What made it most special for THG is the spirit of goodwill and togetherness behind the scenes that made everything possible. This year’s Thea Awards show was a true global effort and labor of love, involving THG staff, paid vendors from all over, as well as a huge team of volunteers—including TEA members and their friends and families—who pitched in everywhere they saw a need and donated their time and talents to this unforgettable evening. A world of thanks to all!