On Sept. 24, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 5 celebrated its 125th-anniversary event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. It was produced by many of our BMA Media team which first engineered Local 5’s 100th Anniversary union celebration in 1997. It is the first local union that BMA has organized both the 100th and 125th anniversary.

The logistics of this celebration were BMA’s main focus. Our events team first pursued a potential venue by doing a copious amount of research until hitting the used location. Once this was decided, the next step was establishing proper lighting and constructing the stages so that the ideal mood was set. This helps the attendees to relax and bask at the moment.

It was then that the team needed to discover how many individuals would be at the convention center. This would indicate the number of chairs, tables, food and refreshments needed to accommodate the guests. The menu consisted of short rib, chicken breast and a vegan option, all of which were necessary to meet the needs of a wide variety of people. Finally, our group constructed a design for the anniversary book as well as an ad package to cater to the union’s desires. 

This gathering integrated many significant components, the first being the Local’s celebration of their new business manager, Tom McIntyre, and the retirement of his predecessor, the now-retired Michael Dunleavy. 

Local 5’s anniversary event raked in many guest speakers, most notably the IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson, PA Attorney Josh Shapiro, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and the event’s emcee Kelly Sasso of WTAE Action News. Each individual spoke of the importance of being a union electrician, how Local 5 has historically been significant in bringing electricity to Greater Pittsburgh and the need for young people to know that if their future involves joining a trade it’s still a strong option. 

The icing on Local 5’s anniversary cake

The gathering featured several aesthetics around the venue. The centerpiece of the event room was a beverage area, which was illuminated by a sign made of LED lights in the shape of a 5. Additionally, there was an eye-catching ice sculpture spelling out IBEW #5 with an elegant jazz quartet playing in its vicinity. 

Included in this array of attractions were a large, iconic IBEW fist sculpture, a ‘business manager walk of fame,’ a picture collage of the members at work on a large board, a walk-through history of all the previous electrical tools and devices used for construction and the local memorial parade float, which also features a large, rotating IBEW Local 5 logo on the top. 

Aside from the sightseeing, the members were each given a commemorative book of Local 5’s 125th anniversary giving a description of the local’s origin and journey to the event. After much research and investigation into Local 5’s contributions to society as well as the happenings through their archived meeting minutes, our events team sold the book’s advertisements and had it union printed. The work that went into the historical research and selling of the book’s advertisements made it affordable for the Local to have this event for the Local 5 members because of the sponsorship and ad money that was raised.

Additional gifts included coasters of Local 5 and Pittsburgh made by Wendell August Forge, a Pittsburgh famous company, and two pieces of glassware also featuring a Wendell August Forge plaque of Local 5’s 125th anniversary. Our group also sourced these locally known gifts and had them produced to be commemorative gifts for the celebration.

Was there entertainment?

To further celebrate the 125 years of accomplishment by the past and current Brothers and Sisters of Local 5, we also brought in an Irish pipe and drum band called Sword of Light. This group came from IBEW Local 3 in New York City and was led by the Colorguard of Pittsburgh’s International Association of Firefighters Local 1. The event concluded with the Finesse Band, a local group local to Pittsburgh. The group played many well-known tunes that the guests enjoyed and danced to throughout the night. 

Though this particular event was celebrating the anniversary of IBEW Local 5, BMA has done anniversary and other celebratory events for IBEW Locals and other building trades unions across the country for 25 years.  

Do you have an anniversary celebration or special event coming up? Let the BMA Media team help you - with our union services ranging from event production and execution to history research and advertising sales, we can ease the burden of your event to make it a night you fondly remember. 

Topics: Marketing, Event Production, Event History, BMA Media Group, Event, Union, IBEW, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union

Ian Borkey

Written by Ian Borkey