Special Events

GALA AWARD NOMINEES

The Special Events Magazine Gala Awards judges — all members of our Advisory Board — pored over a record number of entries received this year to find the best-planned, most beautifully designed events in 35 categories from the tents to tabletops. On the following pages, we are pleased to showcase the outstanding 2006 Gala Award nominees. Trophies will be handed out Jan. 12 at the black-tie Gala Awards and Celebration at The Special Event 2007 in Los Angeles. If you're looking for wonderful event work, read on!
— The Editors

BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL

JHE PRODUCTION GROUP, CONCORD, N.C.

The Food Lion Speed Street festival in Charlotte, N.C., featured three days of live musical acts, interactive exhibits, food vendors and celebrities. Among the big names entertaining the 400,000 attendants were musicians M.C. Hammer, Twisted Sister, Gin Blossoms and REO Speedwagon. The racing-theme event also boasted NASCAR champions such as Richard Petty and Dale Jarrett, among others.

THE LUNDQUIST CO., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

First 5 Sacramento Children's Celebration featured life-size storytelling puppets, 35 educational programs and 20,000 giveaway items. This family-friendly affair also boasted a block-long conga line led by Clifford the Big Red Dog — the storybook guest of honor — and 28 costumed fairy tale characters as well as children and their parents. Five thousand attendees took part in the festivities.

BEST INVITATION

ARLENE SEGAL DESIGN GROUP, NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA.

For a “Disco Around the World” celebration, 400 invitees caught a glimpse of the night to come with a visual-and-audio-interactive invitation. The invitation was hand-delivered inside a duffel bag with a built-in portable radio playing top disco tunes. Inside the duffel, invitees found a black velvet case, a spinning disco ball suspended in a transparent cube and the details for the fête.

JOBE AND ASSOCIATES, DUBLIN, OHIO

An incentive trip themed to “Surf City USA” — Huntington Beach, Calif. — was the inspiration for this three-dimensional invitation. One hundred invitees received a hand-carved, 3-foot replica of a 1960s wooden surfboard engraved and autographed by artist Juan Rodriguez. The board was encased in a custom 36-inch tube, foam insert and custom-designed DHL label continuing the theme and “Top Dog” branding.

WILKINSON RHODES, SAN ANTONIO

A debutante party themed “An Evening of Asian Splendors” took its inspiration from the honoree's custom-designed dress detailed with butterflies and continued the motif through the invitations. Designed to entice 600 invitees, the invitations had a half-tone butterfly background with a carved-bone butterfly attached. They were slipped into a faux silk sleeve embroidered with the guest of honor's name.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA./HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA.

The Yukon Territory in Canada provided the backdrop for a 180-guest lunch event. The table design continued the theme by using indigenous accents that complemented the lakeside venue. By incorporating local elements into the design, such as native flora and antiques found in area shops, Designs by Sean gave the guests an entertaining history lesson as well as a glimpse into life in a unique part of the world.

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA./HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA.

The “Everglades Elegance” dining table design highlighted the Florida Everglades in an upscale manner for a corporate dinner for 60 guests. Crystal chandeliers, luxurious fabrics and formal place settings merged with indigenous Everglades elements such as tropical flora, rustic branches and hanging moss to achieve the desired ambience. As a final effect, fog overflowed onto the table from the centerpieces.

HIGH RISE EVENTS, LAS VEGAS

For the “April Showers Bring May Flowers” bridal shower, pink sateen and chocolate lattice linen covered two oval dining tables, and pink tulle raincoat wraps accented the chairs. Additional touches included Battenburg umbrella centerpieces dripping with crystal necklaces that resembled raindrops. Tulip stemware, garden-embroidered handbags, rosebud truffles and umbrella cookies completed the feminine-yet-sophisticated theme for 35 guests.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

CULINARY CAPERS CATERING, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Tented industrial lots provided a unique environment for 570 VIP guests attending the Surrey Mayor's Charity Ball. The five-course menu was the main attraction, served around a tightly choreographed, entertainment-filled evening. The menu featured a seafood “martini,” grilled Caesar salad and white-wine-braised lamb osso buco with a risotto pavé, finished off with a trio of petite chocolate dessert samplers and truffles in a dry ice haze.

MITCHELL'S CATERING & EVENTS, RALEIGH, N.C.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy gala hosted an environmentally conscious dinner where each menu course was choreographed to coincide with speeches and graphics reinforcing the institute's research initiatives. Five hundred guests enjoyed the three-course organic meal. Dinner consisted of a layered organic gazpacho and caponata salad “martini,” an entree of wild line-caught Alaskan salmon with saffron or the vegetarian alternative of roasted Japanese eggplant, zucchini and fresh mozzarella with tomato jus, and a dessert of escalloped North Carolina organic-grown mountain apples and spice crepes.

SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN, TARZANA, CALIF.

Someone's in the Kitchen re-created the tents of Abraham in the ancient city of Hebron for a bar mitzvah with 250 guests. The gourmet menu followed the most strict kosher laws while still meeting today's standards of creativity and innovation. Highlights included miniature pancakes of charcoal-roasted eggplant, “Moroccan cigars” filled with meat, fruited lamb shanks and deconstructed halvah parfait.

BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL BANQUET DEPARTMENT

HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO, LAS VEGAS

To celebrate the return of a footwear company's founder after a five-year absence, a party was thrown in his honor with all the sights, sounds and smells of a Moroccan marketplace. The party for 1,000 included assorted meze such as steamed dumplings, tandoori skewers and marinated feta. Buffets were draped in velvet, silk, damask and tapestry.

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./RITZ-CARLTON NAPLES, NAPLES, FLA.

Sixty guests participated in an epicurean journey of edible art featuring the unique natural resources of the Everglades. The “Everglades Elegance” dinner included coconut-crusted jumbo shrimp in a fresh coconut shell, black bass escabeche with green mango and hearts of Florida palm, and warm chocolate and Florida orange decadence cake with a Key lime dome and tropical fruit salsa.

THE VENETIAN RESORT-HOTEL-CASINO, LAS VEGAS

The “Phantom of the Opera” gala opening reception marked the long-anticipated opening of the Las Vegas spectacular version of the Broadway show. Hors d'oeuvre and “little dishes,” served passed and at buffets, provided the culinary base for the crowd of 1,200. Dishes included foie gras lollipops, vichyssoise shooters with fried leeks, tortellini with porcini cream, and Phantom champagne gelee.

BEST FUNDRAISING EVENT

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

The opera “Un Ballo in Maschera” — or “A Masked Ball” — provided the thematic Venice carnival background for 650 guests attending the Daffodil Ball in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. Decor and entertainment featured a massive Pulchinella daffodil mask, dramatic scarlet velvet walls, crystal chandeliers, a scarlet dance floor, gold-framed video screens and 55,000 daffodils. Strolling jesters, magicians and gifts from Chanel added to the entertaining evening that raised $2,058,000.

HALA EVENTS & COMMUNICATIONS, TORONTO

“The Enchanted Evening” benefited the SickKids Foundation and provided entertainment for 800 guests, among them 400 children. The event included whimsical decor, a parade led by a marching band to help move guests from the theater venue to the dinner and activity stations, and a feast with separate menus for children and adults. The benefit netted $400,000 for one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world.

MGM MIRAGE EVENTS, LAS VEGAS/MGM GRAND PRODUCTIONS, LAS VEGAS

Passionate hues of crimson, tangerine and fuchsia set the tone for the “Keep Memory Alive” valentine-inspired soiree. The event raised awareness and $20 million for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. Nine hundred guests enjoyed the festivities, which incorporated aerial performers including a couple dressed as Cupids showering partygoers with rose petals from an overhead swing; models in couture gowns holding signs announcing auction categories; and Vanessa Williams singing at the grand finale.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

The opera “Un Ballo in Maschera” — or “A Masked Ball” — provided the thematic Venice carnival background for 650 guests attending the Daffodil Ball in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. Decor and entertainment featured a massive Pulchinella daffodil mask, dramatic scarlet velvet walls, crystal chandeliers, a scarlet dance floor, gold-framed video screens and 55,000 daffodils. Strolling jesters, magicians and gifts from Chanel added to the entertaining evening.

THE SPECIAL EVENT CO., CHELMSFORD, ESSEX, UNITED KINGDOM/DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions inaugural gala celebrated the launch of a significant research initiative for the Nicholas School for Environmental and Earth Sciences at Duke University with an environmentally friendly fête that included natural-silk table dressings, beeswax candles and a predominantly organic menu. Two 100-by-40-foot screens flanked the sides of Cameron Indoor Stadium and depicted 15 different landscapes, including the Grand Canyon and underwater scenes of sharks. Five hundred leading environmental scientists, educators and policy specialists were in attendance. (Photo at lower left.)

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL./KEHOE DESIGNS, CHICAGO

Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS' Chicago gala aimed to demonstrate how far the fight against AIDS has come and how far it still needs to go. This retro airline-themed event featured performers dressed as flight attendants, pilots and travelers; invitations designed to look like plane tickets; and an “airport lounge” for cocktails. Eight hundred guests joined in the festivities. (Photo at lower right.)

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST

EVENTS OF DISTINCTION, SAN FRANCISCO

The bride and groom celebrated their marriage in Tuscan style with a wedding reception at the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley, Calif., the first time such an event was held at this venue. The event, themed “That's Amore,” celebrated the couple's Italian heritage with touches such as Frank Sinatra tunes performed by the band, Piedmonte-style agnolotti with brown butter and sage served family-style, and invitations with a Florentine flourish as a decorative emblem.

SASHA SOUZA EVENTS, NAPA, CALIF.

Sasha Souza Events orchestrated a ring ceremony and reception in just six weeks. Themed “Shades of Gray in the City by the Bay,” the event highlighted San Francisco with its local mansion venue and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sophisticated tones of gray, white and dark plum set the tone for the party, along with “mocktails” and an underlit 4-foot ice bar. (Photo at lower left.)

THE PRECIOUS MOMENT TAIWAN LTD., TAIPEI, TAIWAN

The Precious Moment Taiwan brought the galaxy closer to earth with its “The Galaxy — Dazzling with Love” wedding reception. A classical Chinese ballroom was transformed into a midsummer night's garden with transparent, multilayered, gold voile cloth on the ceiling with star-like lights shining through. Colors of red and burgundy accented the decor along with traditional Chinese touches such as a golden dragon overlooking the ballroom and the good fortune numbers “3” and “9” illuminated by sparkling champagne jelly candles. (Photo at lower right.)

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

BARBARA WALLACE WEDDINGS, CORONA DEL MAR, CALIF./FIORI FRESCO SPECIAL EVENTS, LA HABRA HEIGHTS, CALIF.

For this traditional Indian wedding with ultra-modern touches, the couple arrived on an elephant heralded by drums, fan dancers and stilt walkers. Modern seating vignettes with Ghost chairs, custom red-and-gold pavilions with orchid chandeliers, and a quadruple luge bar made entirely of ice provided additional drama. The Lucite ballroom featured white suede banquettes, water tables, and walls that glowed with changing light.

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA./WEDDINGS UNIQUE, WINTER PARK, FLA.

This “Fairy Tales Do Come True” wedding began in the evening and culminated with a Brazilian parade finale at 5 a.m. The romantic ambience set with the colors pink, violet, white, blue and silver was punched up with a continuous six-hour show during the reception featuring 118 Brazilian costumed performers. Large picture frames around the room displayed changing images of flowers throughout the night.

ROSEWOOD MARKET/DISTINCTIVE DESIGN EVENTS, OTTO, N.C./KAREN CASEY EVENTS, MARIETTA, GA.

The Ringling Museum of Art and its historical Venetian architecture provided the setting for the cirque-themed wedding “Il Matrimonio al Museo.” The bride and groom exchanged vows underneath the arched loggia, and cirque performers performed aerial feats while guests ate dinner. Swarovski crystal, mirrored accessories and seven layers of linen draping each dining table added opulence.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

Designs by Sean treated top sales executives to a “Viva Las Vegas” themed party for four days. Entertainment included real stars and impersonators: a chorus of Elvis look-alikes brought down the house, and James Taylor provided a surprise outdoor concert. The entertainment also influenced the menus, as it did when the crowd enjoyed a “KA”-inspired meal of sushi, dim sum and pad thai before viewing the Cirque du Soleil show.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF./ISIS DESIGNS, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

This “Dare to Dream” incentive event began with a welcome night encouraging participants to dream globally through its decor, entertainment, custom videos and cuisine. During the general session, former basketball superstar Magic Johnson lent star power while delivering an inspirational message. The event culminated with an awards ceremony recognizing realized dreams and talents of the participants, complete with a red carpet and “paparazzi.”

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

An incentive travel reward program taking place at Bennett Station in Alaska and the Yukon Territory highlighted the natural splendor of its surroundings. On the train ride to the location, staff dressed as train conductors delivered a scroll invitation and a picture book depicting the area. Cabins were overhauled to provide the amenities of a five-star hotel, and one meal took place lakeside with snow-capped mountains in the distance.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT PROGRAM FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION

CIRC CORPORATE EXPERIENCE GMBH & CO., WIESBADEN, GERMANY/E.ON E.ON ENERGIE AG, MUNICH, GERMANY

“Surpassing Boundaries with Energy” was the fitting theme for a program held for a German energy company. Instead of supplying the typical luxury offered by many programs, this rule-breaking incentive event included such activities as swimming in the Black Sea instead of a relaxed breakfast and supplying participants with an old car to drive themselves from the airport instead of shuttle service. Typical lectures and workshops were replaced with discussion-based activities on surpassing boundaries with leaders such as war journalist Ulrich Tilgner. (Photo at top left.)

EVENT ARCHITECTS, CHICAGO

The welcome reception for the preeminent networking forum for the biotechnology industry was themed “Fantasia.” This two-hour event included discussions with breaks in the form of two- to three-minute spectacles involving costumed dancers and elaborate lighting. Other themes to entertain the 3,700 convention guests included a CEO reception at the Civic Opera House, a gala reception fashioned as an African oasis, and a closing reception depicting a Prohibition-era party and casino. (Photo at left.)

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

An experiential learning experience provided team-building for 300 top executives while supplying a much-needed service to the Mayan town of Leona Vicario, Mexico. Participants worked side-by-side to complete construction on a school for 600 poverty-stricken children. While custom linen, elaborate floral and innovative staging were also a part of the three-day event, the participants' emotional connection with their work and the community was the emphasis. (Photo at top right.)

BEST EVENT STAGED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

AMCI, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

To promote a line of car accessories for the Scion car brand, AMCI produced a grass-roots, consumer marketing-event program held at unexpected, youth-centric locations in keeping with the brand's target audience. Over a 13-week period, the event hit 23 different markets in such venues as independent music stores, skateboard parks and clothing boutiques. Participants could hang out in the mobile VIP lounge located inside a highly customized trailer or drive a Scion tricked out with accessories.

LOS ANGELES PARTY DESIGNS, LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles Party Designs produced identical final-night programs in 13 cities across the U.S., Canada and Bermuda at the request of a “Big Four” accounting firm. Using six kits, the event company offered a wine-tasting reception with wines from three different continents, dinner, a customized tasting game and an amusing dinner show over the course of five weekends.

PAPA JOHN'S PIZZA, SAN DIEGO

Papa John's Pizza successfully executed the world's largest pizza delivery and captured the Guinness world record for the feat with 13,628 pizzas, topping the previous record of 13,386. Papa John's served 6,000 people within a strict half-hour lunch period, which included 15 locations, more than 150 employees and 2,725 pounds of cheese.

BEST FLORAL DESIGN

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

Designs by Sean wanted to treat guests at a corporate incentive event to a show-stopping celebration to kick off four days of events. After removing all management-provided arrangements from the Las Vegas hotel, the team selected pink, orange and purple flowers with unique textures. Flora such as artichokes, wheat grass, purple cabbage, roses, tulips and tiger lilies were arranged in a variety of glass containers and accentuated with ribbons, feathers and Venetian masks.

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

In an attempt to distinguish this romantically minded bride's wedding from her sister's wedding just six months earlier, Designs by Sean decided on a whimsical, pink-accented floral scheme. Behind a horseshoe-shaped bar stood a life-size blooming tree with pink cherry, blue hydrangea and green amaranthus blossoms. One hundred and fifty cherry tree branches hung from the ceiling. While each chair featured a rose and ivy corsage, table designs included hyacinths, stargazer lilies, tulips and roses accented with white butterflies, bead sprays, candles and silver trays.

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGNS, ROCKVILLE, MD

Janet Flowers Wedding and Event Designs added warmth to a winter wedding with 68 floral arrangements following a cotton and copper theme. The reception room was decorated with copper hardware and greenery, including reindeer moss, angel vine and distinctive orchids. Unique two-tiered acrylic tables called for floral designs above and below the tabletop, an architectural detail echoed with pieces such as 3-foot-tall curly willow branches standing in copper pots.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION: TENT BUDGET UNDER $75,000

B.C. EVENT MANAGEMENT, BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA/TENTNOLOGY, SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA

In order to fashion an event venue for 600 guests attending the Mayor's Charity Ball in Surrey, British Columbia, B.C. Event Management and Tentnology installed 14 hexagonal and triangular tents to house kitchens, lounges and green rooms. Guests dined and watched the event's headline act perform in the banquet tent, which was set up on an undeveloped back lot, created from three saddle-shaped S-5000 tents. The tent walls provided a blank canvas for IMAG, video playback and graphics relating to the event's auction.

HARLEQUIN MARQUEES & EVENT SERVICES, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

For a mobile-phone launch set in the desert, Harlequin Marquees made a magical setting with traditional Arabian majlis-style tents. The event team worked in high temperatures for 10 days, making a hard surface out of the soft desert sand to anchor the tents securely. The main dining marquee featured a dramatic white starcloth ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows to give guests a view of the desert at night.

PREMIERE TENTS & EVENTS, AUSTIN, TEXAS/WORD OF MOUTH CATERING, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Premiere Tents set up an air-conditioned frame tent to hold the birthday festivities for two theaters in Austin, Texas, which included dancing, dinner, auctions and a show. Setup of the 30-by-300-foot tent began at 3 a.m.; once assembled, the tent was walked down Congress Avenue to clear the road for the Congress Avenue Mile Race. After the race, the tent was walked back to a site where guests could view the Paramount Theater's sign through the tent's clear top.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION: TENT BUDGET $75,000 AND ABOVE

DE BOER VININGS, AUSTELL, GA.

De Boer provided nearly 14,000 square feet of tented space to showcase vehicles at The Drive Las Vegas. Three tents made of polyvinyl chloride, aluminum and steel comprised the space for the event. A new structure dubbed the Chateau offered shade from the desert heat with a 20-foot open side and some 200 smoked-glass windows. Another tent, the Euro Jumbo, featured a 30-foot-high peak.

REGAL TENT PRODUCTIONS, STONEY CREEK, ONTARIO

A 200-guest private concert by rocker Rod Stewart in Texas needed a tent large enough for a full-scale musical act while still providing an intimate feeling. Regal Tent Productions provided the perfect tent for the occasion — a structure with a 40-by-20-meter footprint that stood about 8 meters high. The balancing act for such a tall tent was achieved with custom-designed knee braces. Other challenges arose from the concert's location in the desert: not only did the crew have to watch out for rattlesnakes, scorpions and fire ants but stake holes had to be drilled through the rocky ground. (Photo at right.)

SO FINE EVENT DESIGN, CONCORD, CALIF./REP EVENTOS, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

A 30-by-60-meter clear-span tent with a 60-meter window wall allowed 900 guests at a private wedding to see Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Situated on an operational base for the Brazilian army, the tent sat on a peninsula above the ocean, requiring a careful and extended setup due to crosswinds coming off the ocean. Weather-related concerns continued when the tent was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm on the night of the event — no one was hurt due to the tent's grounded lightning rods. (Photo at top right.)

BEST USE OF LIGHTING

LD SYSTEMS, HOUSTON

LD Systems provided lighting, sound and video over 20 days for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. One of the biggest challenges involved transforming the 75,000-seat Reliant Stadium into a concert space for a different performer every night, each with different requests for the look of the stage and lighting. A large video screen and close-up cameras created a feeling of intimacy in the large space. New Varilite VL3000 instruments were used, along with a rotating stage, moving lights and stationary PAR instruments.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

The opening general session for the International Truck and Engine Corp. Parts and Service Expo in San Antonio featured a sound and light show choreographed to a popular rock song, projected on an Atomic Pillow Wall. Total Event Resources used a 20-by-66-foot screen for maximum impact and its screen-in-screen capabilities. Since the lighting portion of the show needed to be designed on-site, the event team worked all night to prepare for the 8 a.m. showing.

XA: THE EXPERIENTIAL AGENCY, NEW YORK

XA staged an after-party modeled on an Italian street festival to celebrate the premiere of the sixth season of the HBO drama “The Sopranos.” The event used lighting techniques to set the mood of an outdoor street fair at the indoor venue, New York's Roseland Ballroom, such as red-tinted lighting, 4,000 Italian string lights with some new bulbs purposely replaced with burnt-out bulbs, and 3,000 red prayer candles. Other authentic elements included projecting images onto a torn, tea-stained sheet of muslin for the distorted image of an old slide projector.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT

EDWIN ALLEN PRODUCTIONS, CEDAR VALLEY, ONTARIO

A Christmas party needed to incorporate interactive elements and provide a festive atmosphere without being fussy. Edwin Allen Productions provided a revolving stage and an ice fountain for the event, both of which added interactive elements for guests but created difficulties for the event team. With an octagonal fountain frame concealed by a white plastic liner, the fountain ran water for about eight hours. The revolving stage had a section for the monitor engineer to discreetly ride with the stage and featured a drum-like facade to keep people away from the rotating mechanism.

LD SYSTEMS, HOUSTON

LD Systems devised integrated sound, lighting and closed-circuit information for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Over the course of 20 days of performances in a 75,000-seat stadium, the event team had to overcome harsh acoustics, a different musical act each night with different audio and visual requests, and 360-degree seating — meaning that an unobstructed view had to be maintained. Also, the historic Astrodome in Houston was transformed into an intimate club.

PLANNING THE GLOBE, MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C./INNOVATIVE EVENT SERVICES, CHARLESTON, S.C.

A “Mission Possible” themed welcome night event kicked off an incentive weekend; the event team created a futuristic playground for guests with such elements as a dynascan and a floating screen. The venue, the Bunker at Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., underwent a major renovation for the entire event planning process. Without floor plans for the constantly changing space, details such as the locations of power outlets and drop points in the ceiling were unknown until the last minute.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS

AN ORIGINAL OCCASION, LOS ANGELES/EPIC ENTERTAINMENT, PALM DESERT, CALIF.

It took 15,000 man-hours to turn the 88,000-square-foot Pittsburgh Steelers' indoor practice field into the venue for the elaborate UPMC Seasons of Hope gala that raised $8.2 million for cancer research. The event team was notified of tight installation times at the Pittsburgh site only five days before the event. To overcome this challenge, a carefully created timeline had to be followed meticulously. Nearly 20 semi-trucks from five states brought in various materials for the gala, including 70,000 square feet of carpeting and 5,800 linear yards of drapery.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

Boundaries of every sort had to be overcome to allow 300 business executives to help renovate a school in Leona Vicario, Mexico. Construction proved complicated, necessitating the raising of power lines in the neighborhood for trucks and the use of 11 security guards to prevent kidnappings. Contractors began the work 90 days before the event to fix plumbing, electrical, landscape and mortar elements. Event attendees completed the job, which required 36 truckloads of cement, 122 gallons of paint and 700 yards of grass sod.

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./ALASKA DESTINATION SPECIALISTS, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

A recognition event at Lake Bennett in the Yukon Territory, Canada, for a pharmaceutical company's top achievers required last-minute changes. After permits for the original location on top of a glacier were cancelled, the event team flew to Alaska only 38 days before the event to scout a new location. Three days' worth of food, water and first aid needed to be brought to the site for the event team. All food had to be secured against wildlife at night; three encounters with bears occurred before the guests' arrival.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT

ASI PRODUCTION SERVICES, ORLANDO, FLA.

For the 2006 Georgia Power Leadership Forum in Macon, Ga., ASI Production Services created a “no stage” by raising the audience on platforms that spanned the room, which were installed with nine seating levels. In nine days, the uncarpeted convention space was transformed into two areas: a general session space with the “no stage,” seating for 300 and scenic elements, and a party room with velour decor, a conventional stage and a motorized, 40-foot, deep-red Austrian drape.

DUCKY-BOB'S EVENT SPECIALISTS, CARROLLTON, TEXAS

Each event in a three-day series of celebrations for a bar mitzvah had to be different, since many guests attended all three. The event team custom-built a tent over the pool at the client's home for a 180-person Shabbat dinner. The tricky installation required cross beams and rigging for safety and a unified look. Due to the placement of cooking equipment, the fire marshal threatened to shut down the party; however, within 30 minutes all five kitchens were moved into compliance.

PANACHE EVENT RENTALS, POMPANO BEACH, FLA.

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival, held in South Beach, Fla., challenged Panache Event Rentals to provide support equipment to oversold events. Rental equipment such as furniture, linen and flatware had to be distributed correctly to different locations at different times over the course of the event. Additionally, the threat of inclement weather threatened to both postpone events and damage items.

BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT/PRODUCT TECHNOLOGY

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

Every element of an executive conference was captured in watercolor, in real time, by artist Carol Winstead Wood. These paintings were duplicated and printed as a high-quality, hard-bound book, which was distributed to all conference attendees at the airport as they left. At the end of every day of the conference, the finished art was sent to a local printer for duplication; the book cover was constructed in advance with handmade papers and drilled to allow for on-site assembly.

THE EVENT CO./THE COMPANIES, MUNICH, GERMANY

For the German Advertising Convention's Meetnight in Munich, Germany, The Event Co. facilitated networking with the “Wall of Names.” Each guest recorded a brief video statement upon arrival. A computer program displayed this video, matched with the person's name and company, on a huge screen inside the venue. The Wall of Names welcomed every guest and allowed others to see who had arrived.

TLC CREATIVE EFFECTS, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

TLC's creation of a 57-foot-tall, 110-foot-wide circular spandex screen for capturing video was used at a pre-game show for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. The screen dropped out of the scoreboard once the lights went black and allowed for seamless video around the 360-degree surface. After the video, a Kabuki-drop system was employed for an impressive finale: 28 pneumatic pistons were triggered by pressurized nitrogen; the first 10 pistons were released in descending order for a cascade drop.

BEST ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET UNDER $25,000

CHOOZI ENTERTAINMENT, LAS VEGAS

Using six performers from the Cirque de Soleil show “Mystere,” Choozi Entertainment developed a production for the client's opening general session. Emphasizing the theme of the conference, “Leadership Is Contagious,” the performers used Taiko drums in one portion of the show to underline the student/teacher relationship and the leadership principles of martial arts. Other aspects of the performance included wide-screen visuals and a group of 5- to 12-year-olds from the Ernie Reyes World Action Team.

DORENE COLLIER'S EVENT SHOW PRODUCTIONS, TAMPA, FLA.

Three diverse entertainers depicted the theme “Explore, Experience, Expand” for a pharmaceutical company's conference in Salt Lake City. Event Show Productions presented a rhythmic gymnast with lights attached to her body inside a 7-foot plastic ball, an iPod-style dancer on a blacked-out stage and a contortionist expanding out of a clear plastic box. The performances had to impress three different audiences in three different rooms.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

Composed of the company's top executives, Abbot Laboratories' band set custom lyrics to the Beatles' “Revolution” describing the goals and challenges taking place within the company's human resources department. The performers — with the tongue-in-cheek name “The Beat-less” — recorded the unique song in a studio and shared it during breaks at the Abbot Worldwide HR Conference. Challenges in producing this video included working with the enthusiastic and vocal group of musicians while coordinating their conflicting schedules.

BEST ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET $25,000 TO $100,000

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA./HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA.

Held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, a pharmaceutical company's awards night accentuated the theme “The Power of the Dream” with four main acts combined with large video visuals. A custom video blending the acts presented a challenge to the team from Designs by Sean because it required collaboration with companies in different time zones. In addition to the Sandman — an artist hand-making images in sand in an illuminated box seen for the first time in the U.S. — the audience was treated to a human fountain, contortionists and a performer flipping and turning on a wheel.

MGM GRAND HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

Designed to bring out emotions, the entertainment for the Remax International opening session at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas brought the theme “Selling the World” to life with eight aerialists performing on a globe lifted 70 feet in the air. The silver, red, white and blue costumes incorporated the Remax logo while making sure the stitching would not interfere with the performers' mobility. MGM Productions constructed a custom bridge near the arena ceiling for the performers to safely access the apparatuses. After the 10-minute performance, the CEO of Remax made his entrance from behind a U.S. flag.

WILKINSON RHODES, SAN ANTONIO

Several vignettes supporting the theme of a debutante's party, “An Evening of Asian Splendors,” were performed on a rotating time schedule on multiple staging platforms throughout the client's San Antonio estate. Dancers with red butterfly headdresses greeted the guests, who were then treated to a “geisha” living-fountain performance that involved water coming out of the geisha's fingertips. Interactive entertainment intended to capture the interest of younger guests included Chinese calligraphers, contemporary dance by Moo Moo — a dancer from iPod commercials — Chinese ballerinas and a Rolling Stones cover band.

BEST ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET ABOVE $100,000

CARTER MCRAE EVENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA

In a finale for the Young Presidents' Organization conference, 12 amateur singers performed in an “American Idol” environment at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, with members of the audience voting with hand-held polling devices. The ballroom was transformed with black velour drapes, a scrim, a pillow wall and a bottom-lit plexiglass stage. Challenges for the event team included holding another round of auditions after a number of potential performers backed out and writing 24 music orchestrations for all the artists.

PLANNING THE GLOBE, MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C./EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

Guests of the Sterling Performance Club were immersed in the interactive theme “Mission Possible.” Based in the famed bunker at the Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., a Cold War-era refuge designed for the president of the United States, guests tried to crack a mystery involving the theft of the Performance Club's coveted lapel pins. Challenges for the event team involved the bunker's ongoing renovation, resulting in a venue with changing dimensions and capabilities, and the tax West Virginia puts on all items coming into the state. (Photo in middle.)

SENSIX COMMUNICATIONS AND EVENTS, MONTREAL

For the launch of Team VacciNation by a national pharmaceutical sales force, Sensix Communications created an educational show tracing the history of vaccines over 200 years to show employees that they were part of this history. Key historical figures came to life for guests as they walked off the screen and onto the stage, a feat pulled off with careful planning and rehearsals. Green-screen technology was used to present past figures in historically accurate settings. (Photo at top right.)

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE

JAM ENTERTAINMENT AND CREATIVE SERVICES, CHICAGO

In creating the opening ceremonies for the Gay Games VII in Chicago, Jam Entertainment incorporated acts that expressed specific themes: exclusion, oppression, expression and ignition. Using an enormous stage constructed by the event team, 12,000 athletes marched onto Soldier Field holding small, colored LED lights, creating a “rainbow” flag representing gay pride. A pyrotechnic display ended the night.

JHE PRODUCTION GROUP, CONCORD, N.C./Q & A ENTERTAINMENT, ATLANTA

The Sprint Tribute to America, the pre-race concert for the Daytona 500 car race, required a custom stage to anchor the performance by headliner Bon Jovi and guest performer Jennifer Nettles. The event team delivered a stage with eight LED video cubes to enhance the performance, large speaker stacks loaded in by crane and special lighting towers. The 11-minute concert was carefully choreographed and directed to create a storyline and field visuals

JHE PRODUCTION GROUP, CONCORD, N.C.

For the NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge, individuals and teams competed in a fast-paced environment in front of 5,000 fans. Challenges for JHE's event team included facilitating a change in venue — from the Charlotte [N.C.] Coliseum to the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena. Two hundred fifty pieces of modular flooring were necessary to keep the pit crews from slipping during competition.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST

A JOY WALLACE CATERING PRODUCTION, MIAMI

A circus-themed birthday party in Miami entertained 130 guests with animal performers, a bounce house, cotton candy and face painting. Food stations served mini cheeseburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, chicken strips and French fries. Table centerpieces took inspiration from the birthday girl's favorite animals — elephants, bears and dogs were hand-carved and covered in flowers matching the color and texture of that particular animal. Entertainment was provided by balancing gymnasts, dogs balancing balls and performing monkeys.

MITCHELL'S CATERING & EVENTS, RALEIGH, N.C.

Two hundred and six guests were invited to a bat mitzvah in Raleigh, N.C., by an invitation hand-delivered by “Prince Charming.” The event team created a royal winter wonderland in a country club ballroom, despite the fact that no hanging or affixed decor was allowed, with tabletop elements such as candlelight, mounds of snow, white floral, and silver-and-white-striped tent turrets.

WILKINSON RHODES, SAN ANTONIO

Six hundred guests enjoyed “An Evening of Asian Splendors” in San Antonio with the juxtaposition of the Asian landscapes of ancient Kyoto and the modern Ginza Strip in Tokyo. The lavish debutante party included 20 antique bird cages filled with songbirds, a living fountain, a full casino and Chinese ballerinas. Ten food stations kept with the Asian theme, serving Peking duck, yakatori chicken, chocolate sushi and green tea ice cream. Dancers in butterfly costumes performed beneath paper lanterns.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

DECOR & MORE, OAKVILLE, ONTARIO

Decor & More helped a Toronto couple announce their relocation to London with a bon voyage party that took 100 friends in luxury limousines on quests to four destinations in the city. Using an “Amazing Race” theme, the event team led guests through various challenges, even posting photos of the first three stops for guests to view at the final stop. The party ended with the host couple announcing they had eloped just a week before.

SASHA SOUZA EVENTS, NAPA, CALIF.

With only two weeks to find a venue after the first choice fell out, Sasha Souza Events turned to a winery's barrel room in California wine country to create an elegant dinner party. After arriving at the venue, guests enjoyed mini foie gras burgers and truffled oxtail tartlets in a 60-by-50-foot welcome tent. The barrel room featured 26 leather-like embossed columns defining the space along with an underlit ice bar. The evening ended with a private concert by legendary crooner Tony Bennett.

SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN, TARZANA, CALIF.

Keying on the theme “Indulge,” Someone's in the Kitchen helped the hostess — a respected TV personality — treat her friends to an evening with a slightly naughty side. The event team spent a week transforming a tennis court into a nightclub, which featured a live mermaid at the sushi bar, a human “porcupine” sporting skewered sweets at the caramel fountain, and the team of “whipped cream boy and bonbon girl,” who popped a bonbon into guests' mouths and followed it with a whipped cream chaser. Singer/songwriter Fiona Apple made a surprise appearance.

BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

AMCI, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

For longtime client Lexus, AMCI took the traditional ride-and-drive to new heights with the “Taste of Lexus” tour, which positioned the brand as emblematic not just of a car but of luxury itself. Event venues were redesigned as lively, covered “marketplaces” with greenery, comfortable couch seating and upscale grazing menus. To convey the luxury lifestyle message, the venues featured stations offering spa treatments and golf instruction. All told, 40,000 guests in 12 U.S. markets participated in the events, twice the number as in the 2004 campaign.

TBA GLOBAL EVENTS, SAN DIEGO

For the “Random Acts of Cone-ness” campaign, TBA helped ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry's introduce its new waffle cone with a three-city sampling program. In Chicago, New York and San Francisco, “Cone Samaritans” distributed 50,000 full-size samples per market and generated nationwide media coverage in the bargain. “Cone Samaritans” not only handed out cones in busy downtown “cone zones” but also distributed the treats at firehouses, police stations and children's hospitals. The summer's record heat required TBA to maneuver a total of nine 24-foot freezer trucks through congested downtown streets.

XA: THE EXPERIENTIAL AGENCY, NEW YORK

XA brought Real Simple magazine's pages to life with a five-week “Holiday Solutions” mall tour targeting female shoppers. The event team set up custom “living rooms” in high-traffic malls featuring “entertaining,” “style,” “beauty” and “gift giving” environments offering an experience, idea or amenity to guests. The “entertaining” section, for example, offered easy recipes and tips on how to clean up after party guests go home, including giving attendees the chance to test a vacuum cleaner from advertiser Dyson. More than 100,000 consumers visited the events, and TV coverage created another 330,000 broadcast impressions.

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA./HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA.

Themed “Futuristic,” the theatrical production that closed a multi-day event for pharmaceutical company Endo keyed on the client's core values through the “voice of Endo,” represented by a floating white face with a digitally enhanced voice. The voice spoke about the company's values in between a fast-paced roster of more than 10 acts, including aerialists, “tornado” characters and a trampoline act where acrobats bounced off walls. The production immersed guests in the entertainment experience, from the costumed characters who greeted them at the venue entrance to the balancing act performed by two male bodybuilders.

GO WEST EVENTS & MULTIMEDIA, WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIF.

To enliven lengthy presentations at its client's annual meeting in Arizona, GO West married high tech with the lore of the native Anasazi people. The drama built as guests sat before a plain, dark stage, then heard the faint sound of chanting. A 40-foot water wall began to smoke with video imagery of fire and Anasazi symbols, accompanied by a narrator describing the tribe's ancient mysteries and ending with the event's tagline, “Ignite the Spirit Within.” Laser images of hunters morphed into human dancers, setting the stage for the company's presentations.

VOK DAMS GROUP, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

Vok Dams Group helped cosmetics giant Lancome elevate the role of both makeup and makeup artists by inaugurating the “makeup artist of the year” award. The event team dropped the traditional staging for awards programs, opting instead to create a huge “art space” at Berlin's E-Werk venue. The program showcased young makeup artists at work and showed the nexus between makeup and fashion, symbolizing the upscale Lancome brand with filigree projections and the company's signature “rose” image.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $20,000

A JOY WALLACE CATERING PRODUCTION, MIAMI

The event team brought the hit '80s TV series “Miami Vice” to life in the hosts' minimalist Miami penthouse for a combination holiday and 30th birthday party. “Crockett” and “Tubbs” look-alikes greeted guests as they entered the retro party scene, which featured neon-colored linen, faux palm trees, plastic flamingoes and sparkling disco balls. The throwback menu included iceberg lettuce wedges with bleu cheese dressing, chicken Cordon Bleu and twice-baked potatoes. While the “detectives” searched for Santa's murderer, a thief was arrested on the dance floor — an arrest that turned into an exotic cop/suspect tango.

ART OF THE PARTY, ORLANDO, FLA.

Art of the Party helped grab the attention of 240 sales representatives for a health-care company at an intensive training program by re-imagining a hotel ballroom as a “virtual neighborhood.” Starting late at night after a casino event in the space, the team added “street” carpet (complete with road signs and stoplights), park benches and a waterfall to create a city scene by 7 a.m. the following day. The decor included facades for a doctor's office, cancer clinic and hospital, which the reps entered to find workshop areas.

HIGH RISE EVENTS, LAS VEGAS

Bringing the theme “April Showers Bring May Flowers” alive for a bridal shower at an upscale hotel, High Rise Events seated guests at tables topped with pink umbrellas drizzling crystal bead “raindrops.” Background music included the tunes “Singing in the Rain” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” Two oval tables swathed in pink linen dressed with sheer chocolate-brown lattice overlays provided the backdrop for an abundant array of spring flowers including roses, peonies and irises. The blooms sat atop a moss garden runner under pink Battenburg lace umbrellas accented with chocolate-brown satin bows and nosegays of pink roses.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $20,000 TO $50,000

CAROLYN DEMPSEY DESIGN, PORT CHESTER, N.Y.

The 188 guests at a bar mitzvah held at a community center got a true hockey experience thanks to elements including life-size hockey player mannequins stuffed with white birch branches, National Hockey League pennants dangling from the rafters and even a real Zamboni. The children's tables included an illuminated faux ice centerpiece and napkins holding pencils with hockey-stick erasers. The event kept a sophisticated edge at the adult tables thanks to white chiavaris with royal blue cushions placed at rectangular, white plexiglass tabletops featuring all-white flowers in clear glass vases.

DECOR & MORE, OAKVILLE, ONTARIO

Trying to make guests stay at an association's showcase event rather than slip out for club-hopping in Toronto, the event team created “Club Ice.” Decor keyed on the aurora borealis, featuring 16 custom acrylic bars backlit via LEDs. Shimmering chandeliers, also custom-made, floated above white leather sofas and oversize ottomans. The room was washed with changing hues of indigo, ice blue and fuchsia to mimic the northern lights.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL./TIMOT MCGONAGLE, NASHVILLE, TENN.

A 28-bay truck service center was transformed into a VIP party site thanks to a “industrial luxe” decor scheme. A wall of eight tractor-trailers in the colors of the company's logo created a striking visual while reining in the space. Images of trucks and logos showed up in sly ways — as ice sculptures, in gobos and imprinted on candies that embellished the dessert course. Each dinner table was pin-spotted and topped with a centerpiece made of raised wheel and bolt covers.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $50,000

AN ORIGINAL OCCASION, LOS ANGELES

When a sophisticated girl asked for a “retro Hollywood” themed bat mitzvah, An Original Occasion created the “grand opening” of the nightclub “Club Chelsea.” Guests passed “paparazzi” lining a 60-foot red carpet to find a chic outdoor lounge in tones of white, pink and chrome, along with an indoor lounge/dining area. Here, two 32-foot-long tables covered in chocolate velvet linen were surrounded by high-back pink chairs. As the guest of honor descended a Lucite staircase, each step glowed with pink light.

EDWIN ALLEN PRODUCTIONS, CEDAR VALLEY, ONTARIO

To create a “politically correct” Christmas party for its client's 4,500 guests, Edwin Allen Productions used oversize elements including a working, 225-square-foot ice fountain and three 6-foot-long ice benches, 35-foot pine trees, and a 35-foot-wide revolving stage. To add interactivity, human “nutcrackers” posed for photos with partygoers. Above the 95-by-100-foot black and white checkered dance floor hung a total of 300 red banners decked with red and gold ornaments. Because the ceilings were 40 feet high, staff members took a safety course before installing the banners.

EVENTWORKS, LOS ANGELES

To help its hotel client celebrate the launch of its chic new brand, EventWorks re-created New York's Spice Market restaurant with its seamless blend of Moroccan, Middle Eastern and ultra-hip elements. The outside of the event tent was washed in color, breakout patterns and custom gobos of the client's logo. Once they stepped inside, guests found the tent's sidewalls and ceiling draped in luxurious, chocolate-brown fabric, and fabric chandeliers overhead.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: BUDGET UNDER $100,000

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

The event team demonstrated that its client was willing to go the distance for its recognition event by taking award-winners all the way to remote Lake Bennett in Canada's Yukon Territory. Guests were transported via vintage train to a site 2,800 feet above sea level, putting them “on top of the world.” The event team created centerpieces using native flora and painted chair covers with totem pole designs. The menu featured local specialties including Alaskan king crab legs, wild Copper River salmon and reindeer sausage.

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

Using the theme “The Power of a Dream,” the event team created a fantasy world in a hotel ballroom for its client's awards event. All-white linen with azure accents created the illusion of walking into a cloud. Distinctive pyramid-shaped menus echoed the client's logo. The entertainment program featured unique acts including a living fountain, a “human wheel,” and “The Sandman” — making his U.S. debut — who created art images with only handfuls of sand.

THE LUNDQUIST CO., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

Grateful for a client who appreciated the benefits of using an event as a marketing tool, the Lundquist Co. helped the City of Rancho Cordova, Calif., celebrate the opening of its new city hall with an event that touched all the senses. The opening took place on Earth Day and played up the building's environmentally friendly aspects. Interactive elements included coloring books for children in attendance, which gave adults information about available city services. The event succeeded despite a surprise visit by President George Bush that day, which closed down all the freeways and drew media to the other side of town.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $100,000 TO $249,999

BRAVO PRODUCTIONS, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

To inspire 1,000 military personnel charged with coordinating events, entertainment and decor at their base installations, Bravo Productions keyed on a “game” theme. The event team divided the 33,000-square-foot function space into areas for virtual reality games, board games, video games and others. Familiar children's games — such as “Go Fish” and “Candyland” — served as decor inspiration for food stations. Delayed budget approvals gave the event team only three weeks to complete the project.

HARITH PRODUCTIONS LTD., WILLOW GROVE, PA./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

For a new product launch, the event team created a futuristic-themed gala with dramatic decor and distinctive entertainment. Decor pieces including orange-peel coils and inflatable spirals complemented the sleek table design to create a striking ballroom, accented by low-lying fog and black lights. Nearly a dozen acts kept guests entertained, including high-flying acrobats, trampoline gymnasts and aerialists dangling from swaths of chiffon. The client's vice president of sales introduced a custom video describing the company's history.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

Total Event Resources helped its client introduce its new brand identity with a team-building event that took 500 attendees from around the world on a tour of Chicago. Using a format based on the hit TV show “The Amazing Race,” participants collected custom branded items at each stop, including logo'd coins each time they completed a challenge and puzzle pieces that when combined created an image of the new logo and the Chicago skyline. Victory was determined not by which team finished first, but which collected the most company “coins.”

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $250,000 TO $500,000

BILTMORE ESTATE, ASHVILLE, N.C./VIKTOR INCENTIVES & MEETINGS, TRAVERSE CITY, MICH.

A farewell dinner party for the client's senior partners made the most of the spectacular views at Biltmore Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. High winds combined with the summer's heat made staging a tented dinner a challenge, but the event team created a system of partial sidewalls to compensate. To serve the 826 guests properly, the event team divided the tent into four theoretical “dining rooms,” each with its own manager and 12 servers working in teams of two. The grand finale of the evening was a fireworks spectacle shot over Biltmore House but only after curatorial staff had moved all breakable items to safe spots on shelving to ensure that any vibration wouldn't cause damage.

CARTER MCRAE EVENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA

To showcase local talent in a top-flight show, Carter McRae Events auditioned 100 Alberta, Canada, performers for the Young Presidents' Organization “YPO Idol” final-night event. Whittling that group down to 12 performers, the event team set up a plexiglass performance stage in a Victorian-era ballroom. The 550 event guests voted for their favorites using hand-held electronic devices. The surprise finale performer was Canadian blues/rock artist Colin James.

EVENTWORKS, LOS ANGELES

EventWorks took 1,700 guests of its hotelier client to “Dream Park” — an experiential event featuring a rich array of spectacle and sound. Guests entered the ballroom through an illuminated tunnel to find the unexpected, such as food stations dubbed “Dunk,” “Sear,” “Freeze” and “Flame.” Costumed servers on motor scooters ferried food from kitchen to guests. Metallic cages housing go-go dancers were hoisted on scissor lifts, followed by techno/performance-art band Mutaytor.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET ABOVE $500,000

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

Extraordinary Events turned a remote stretch of beach in Cancun, Mexico, into an elegant dinner venue for 300 executives after bringing in virtually every event element. Coming in via ferry, the guests arrived at a dock blazing with intelligent lighting and candles, then enjoyed cocktails followed by dinner on a newly built deck. After a delay caused by a brief downpour, the entertainment program of singer/songwriter Seal and fireworks dazzled guests.

MGM MIRAGE EVENTS, LAS VEGAS/MGM GRAND PRODUCTIONS, LAS VEGAS

MGM Mirage Events and MGM Grand Productions teamed up to create “L'Affaire,” a New Year's Eve party staged on three levels of the MGM Grand Hotel, the French theme honoring the property's newly opened Joel Robuchon restaurant. Decor for the pre-function spaces mixed stately floral with sultry models, including one beauty perched on a velvet swing within a wrought-iron cage. Guests then entered a ballroom featuring 14-foot-tall, pod-like structures and dramatic floral chandeliers enshrouding performers. A balloon drop heralded the new year.

MGM MIRAGE EVENTS, LAS VEGAS

MGM Mirage Events helped the Bellagio hotel keep customer relations warm with the “2006 Degrees” New Year's Eve party. Dressed in a vivid color scheme of red, orange and kiwi green, the event space used a two-tier raised platform to encircle the ballroom, ensuring that each of the 950 guests felt as though they had a great seat. The polycarbonate walls were illuminated with more than 300 Versatubes, which broadcasted constantly changing video images. Dancers performed intricate moves punctuated by flash pods, confetti blasts and virtual flames.

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