Tori Viola will never forget throwing gobs of flashing LED balls onto crowds of dancers as they partied to Skrillex at Life is Beautiful.
“Everyone went crazy,” she says reflecting on the 2014 festival. “It was a magical moment for me. Life is Beautiful is always magical for me.”
For three years, the 24-year-old has experienced the festival as an Inside Beautiful volunteer, which gets free admission through service. About 200 applicants apply each year.
“Some volunteers will become aficionados and experts on all festival programming and details,” says Kryzia Quibuyen, the volunteer program manager for Life is Beautiful. “Others will get to work with departments such as VIP and Clean Vibes. There will also be volunteers who assist individuals with special needs and disabilities.”
Viola, who lived in Pennsylvania at the time, spent her first year as a volunteer directing traffic Downtown. Returning two more times, her favorite volunteer experience has been busing tables in the VIP sections.
“I got to be right up front and watch everything,” she says. “It’s totally worth it.”
In 2014 when Francis Aquino saw his favorite band Panic! at the Disco was playing, he decided to become a volunteer. He has been doing it ever since.
“It’s an easy commitment,” he says.
He’s done anything from being a runner delivering food and beverages to the sound stage crews to being part of the beautification committee that picks up trash around the festival.
When his shift ends, the party begins.
“I was right up front on the rails (for Panic! at the Disco),” he says. “I saw the lead singer do a backflip and nearly lost my mind. It was the highlight of my weekend.”
Viola might have come to the festival alone, but she made fast friends with fellow volunteers.
“And I get to come back and see them every year,” she says.
Aquino added that’s what the festival is about.
“It emphasizes people and the planet and having a good time,” he says. “You can have a good time with anyone, even if it’s someone you just met.”