Note: This Event was part of my “Secret Experimental Event Series” for Big Weekend Calendars and The Austin Events Wall Calendar. You can read more about the event series in this post.
The Event Listing
Below is the event description as posted to the public.
Let’s See How Many Extension Cords We Can Put Together.
Have you ever wondered how many extension cords you could connect across the neighborhood and still get power out of the end? Let’s find out! Bring an extension cord and show up at the designated socket. Then follow the extension cords around town until you get to the end. What’s at the end? You will see. Then attach yours and continue the chain.
Things to know:
- This is for real.
- Bring an OUTDOOR extension cord.
- Put your name on it because they all look the same, right?
As you can see, I designed it as a treasure hunt of sorts with a mystery at the end. It’s also exciting because there’s the obvious danger of having a bunch of extension cords attached to each other winding throughout a neighborhood.
So the enticement to attend is there.
Behind the scenes I had to figure out a few things:
- Is this dangerous? Would something catch on fire before we could finish the event?
- What neighborhood would be cool with this and not call the cops on us?
For #1 I turned to my electronics wizard friend Mickey Delp who told me that the problem I’ll have is that as electricity goes through an extension cord it loses a little power. If you keep attaching cords together, the current will eventually be too weak to power anything at the end.
So the risk of fire was pretty low. That was great news.
News I wasn’t going to share with anyone. Why tell people that the risk of fire was pretty low? They are in this for the DANGER. I’m not going to take that away from them. The best kind of danger is the kind you want and think there is but doesn’t really exist. That way you can get excited about being dangerous without the unwanted side effect of getting hurt.
But now I had been made aware of a different problem: there might be a point where the length of cords is so long that no power comes out the end of them. Mickey wasn’t sure how long it could go without running out of power. BUT… he just happened to have two huge bins of extension cords that I could borrow and find out for myself. (I was surprised to learn that Mickey had never been tempted to run this experiment himself).
The first test was done in my kitchen. Without undoing the cords from their neatly wrapped rolls I attached one to my coffee maker and then daisy chained the rest of them. Then, cautiously, I plugged it into the wall.
No fires. No electrocution. I made some coffee. No problem.
The next step was to make sure these stretched pretty far. Why?
If I only had one person show up with an extension cord to my event, I wanted them to enjoy the experience and get that WOW moment of turning the corner to discover what was at the end. This even would be pretty lame if you could see from one end of the cords to the other.
So dragged the bins out to Patterson Park and unraveled each bundle as I hooked them to the next. I wish I had taken pictures of what I had done. I know some of the people walking their dogs at the park that day did. I didn’t want to engage with them at the park since if they were planning on attending the event I might accidentally give some spoilers.
At any rate, I had enough cords for even the smallest amount of attendees.
Now I needed to find a neighborhood.
My solution was simple: We’ll post the event and get people excited about coming. They’ll put the event on their calendar and get their extension cords ready. And I would figure out the location later. It was the perfect plan.
Well, sadly, the event has yet to happen for a couple reasons. First, I was too optimistic about how many events I could hold during my busy season, so I decided to do it after the season. Second, the pandemic happened right after the season ended. People were in no mood to go stringing extension cords together. There was an actual real danger to deal with.
Of all the events that got postponed, this is the one people ask about the most. While I like the idea a lot I think that there are other ones in the series that are more appealing. Is it the simplicity? The danger? The mystery? Regardless, I look forward to seeing what happens.
- As usual, even the easiest of event ideas has lots of details and this took up a ton of time.
- You can string a lot of extension cords together and still have them work.
Below is the promotional video for the “Let’s See How Many Extension Cords We Can Put Together” event. See more detail here on the Big Weekend Calendars website.