Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas in 3D HD!

For the past 12 years, the Calandros have thrown a Christmas party, we've mentioned it here before and even posted an animoto video of last year's party. As we have said, we save all year for it to get snow on our front lawn, Santa comes, and we have tons of people here (overcompensation for year one of the party when we only had two guests show up out of the 40 that we invited). Our guests bring canned goods and new, unwrapped gifts to donate to a local charity and we provide everything else.

This year, just before Thanksgiving, we got an email from Greg Harper- the Living in HD Answerman and all around amazing person- asking if we would be interested in having a Panasonic 3D HD truck come to our party...or would it be too much?

By now, you probably have realized when it comes to the Calandro family, we haven't figured out what "too much" is.

Of course, we said we would totally be willing to do it! We weren't sure how big it would be, we weren't sure whether or not it would be pulled off (though we have come to learn that with Greg Harper and Panasonic working together, anything can happen). Heck, at that point, we weren't even sure who was coming to our party.

At noon on Saturday, Glacier Ice Company showed up to blow 5 tons of snow onto our lawn and house (they donated it to our party this year. They are wonderful people and if you are ever on the Central Coast of California and need ice, you need to look no further.). Moments after they drove away, up drove Greg, followed very shortly by the Panasonic 3D HD truck. The drivers/operators of the truck, Dan and Ryan (and their lovely significant others Anna and Rhonda) were friendly, knowledgeable and personable- just like every other Panasonic employee we have ever met. They got the truck set up in short order and were ready to go well before our first guest arrived.

Sarah, the camera person for Panasonic, showed up and Phil, an AP photographer was there to document the event for us and for the Panasonic executives in Japan. Everyone was ready to go. We hadn't told any of our guests what to expect at our party, only that this year would be bigger and better than ever!

Our guests were floored as they got to be among the few who would experience the next wave in HD Television: 3D! The truck has a capacity of about 25 people at a time and shows about a 10 minute montage of 3D clips- there is race car driving, skiing, soccer, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing (my personal favorite) and scenes from Disney's A Christmas Carol and a action-packed trailer for James Cameron's new movie Avatar (which looked incredible in 3D!).

What is it like? Well, it is hard to describe without sounding like a commercial. The 3D is amazing- realistic and crystal clear. The colors are sharp and the depth combined with the 1080P HD picture makes everything look as real as it can get without actually being there. I know that people will think that 3D HD is a gimmick, but that's only because they haven't seen it. Just like the jump from Standard Definition to HD, the switch to 3D just makes the viewing more real. Sports in particular will never be the same again. I am not a sports fanatic, but I would watch just about anything in 3D HD. It's not about things jumping out at you, it's about being immersed in the experience.

Our friends and family members were interviewed, we all got pictures taken in and out of the truck, and the whole Panasonic crew got to experience a Calandro Christmas Crazy party (now they're family and we're expecting them all back next year- even without the truck!).

Needless to say, the party was awesome! we ended up with 165 guests (63 of them kids) and almost $2,000 worth of donations in toys and food donated to a local organization that helps families who are struggling to get by.

We have been so fortunate this year. Panasonic has been so generous to us, and our family and friends have been so generous to our charities. We use our Christmas party as a way of saying thank you to our friends. This year, Panasonic helped to make that thank you extra special and very memorable. Thank you Panasonic, for contributing another once-in-a-lifetime memory for the Calandros and allowing us to share it with our friends and family.

And to Greg Harper, a special thank you for remembering that we do this craziness every year, and for making the journey out to be a part of it. We are honored that you were our guest and you know you are welcome any time!