Special Events

GALA AWARD WINNERS

SPECIAL EVENT PROFESSIONALS FROM THROUGHOUT the world entered our latest Gala Award competition. All told, Special Events Magazine received nearly 320 entries in 35 categories. The 107 finalists represented event professionals in the United States, Ireland, Australia, England, Canada, Israel, Germany, the Bahamas and Japan.

Members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board convened in Phoenix in January for The Special Event 2002 to pick the Gala winners, whose outstanding work appears on the following pages. The winners serve as testaments to the enduring power of special events to delight, to inform and to captivate.

We are honored to bring them to you.
The Editors



BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL

Jay Howard Events, Concord, N.C.

The “600 Festival” takes place throughout May, preceding NASCAR racing activities at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. An “Air and Speed Show” at the 2001 celebration gave more than 35,000 observers a rare glimpse of military aircraft, a “UAW-GM Teamwork Parade” brought marching bands, celebrity floats and fireworks to more than 65,000 viewers, and “Food Lion Speed Street,” a three-day street festival, offered 60 bands on four stages and 40 interactive exhibits to nearly 400,000 fans.

BEST BALLOON CREATION

The Balloon House Design Studio, Flower Mound, Texas

A 20-foot Boeing 757 made of 3 1/2-inch hologram balloons over a foam-covered steel sub-frame was one of several creations prepared by The Balloon House Design Studio for an American Airlines awards gala. The Balloon House team also made a reproduction of a 1938 Ford Tri-Motor airplane flying out of the clouds — a display designed to honor American Airlines' 75-year history.

BEST INVITATION

Century Guild Press, Monrovia, Calif.

An invitation for a wedding at La Quinta Resort near Palm Springs, Calif., took into consideration the couple's love of travel and the wedding's location. A dark brown leather-bound travel journal opened to reveal sand-colored pages of entries for the South of France, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles — places where the bride and groom had many friends and family members. The entries formed a background for the wedding information, and were complemented by drawings, pressed flowers and other accents.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

Legendary Events, Atlanta

A fund-raiser for Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS gave event designers a 10-by-10-foot space and instructions to incorporate the color red into a tabletop design for 10 guests. Legendary Events paid tribute to sponsor Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge with a “La Dolce Vita” creation. On top of gold and silver table linens, candelabras and square silver dishes alternated as chargers. A centerpiece was lit from underneath and featured clusters of grapes, lemons, limes, pears, roses, miniature calla lilies and golden yarrow.

BEST FOOD PRESENTATION

Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

A “Night of the Gods” incentive event for e-commerce company Metiom incorporated mythological elements from many cultures into a four-course dinner. A brightly colored arrangement of coquilles St. Jacques was listed on the menu as “Atlas' Horizon,” while Maine lobster garnished with a Parmesan crisp bearing a trident stamp was called “Poseidon's Trident Forge.” A “Mayan Temple Rising” dessert featured a pyramid of chocolate with espresso mousse.

BEST CORPORATE/COMPANY PICNIC

Enchanted Parties, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

For electronic systems manufacturer Northrop Grumman's annual picnic, Enchanted Parties created an event with a “big-top circus” theme. An 18-foot-high clown figure made of almost 500 balloons met guests at the entrance to the picnic grounds, which were organized to keep attendees moving from activity to activity. A circus performance starring Dondi the elephant was the highlight of a day that also included carnival games, field races and carousel rides.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

Patti Coons & Associates, Orlando, Fla./A La Carte Catering, Tampa, Fla.

For a wedding with an “enchanted forest” theme, the caterer and designer collaborated to merge food, environment and entertainment. Costumed figures representing fairies, nymphs, gods and lovers attended a variety of food stations, with a “love goddess” serving caviar and black-truffle foie gras, and “Latin lovers” overseeing morel empanadas and grilled potatoes. Candles, giant butterflies and forest trees were part of the room's decor, and even traditionally dressed hors d'oeuvre servers wore small accents of flowers and tinsel.

BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL CATERING DEPARTMENT

Chicago Downtown Marriott, Chicago/The Meetinghouse Companies, Elmhurst, Ill.

Designed to look like a Central American mining camp, a Host Marriott Corp. client-appreciation party used a motion simulator, special effects and exotic foods to draw guests into a “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Low-lying fog surrounded replicas of Mayan ruins, and dinosaur sculptures hovered over buffets serving sea bass ceviche, pork tamales, albondigas and whole roasted pig. A “chocolate volcano” dessert display allowed guests to dip confections into lava-like melted chocolate.

BEST FUND-RAISING EVENT

Legendary Events, Atlanta

Legendary Events produced the Dining by Design event for Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), which has contributed more than $27 million to AIDS causes. The event invited 50 designers each to create a unique table seating 10 guests. The fund-raiser raffled celebrity-donated vacation packages, autographed T-shirts and artwork, and treated 500 guests to a meal of crab cakes, beef tenderloin and chocolate mousse.

BEST EVENT FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Classic World Events, San Jose, Calif.

With “Along the Mission Trail” as the theme, The American Cancer Society hired Classic World Events to produce The Cattle Baron's Ball. More than 200 feet of mission arches and 12 different mission towers were brought to the venue — a 200-foot-high aircraft hangar at Moffett Field military base. Fountains, terra cotta pots, wagons and barrels were used to decorate food stations and fill the interior of the hangar. Almost 1,000 feet of patterned cloth mimicked the twinkling night sky overhead. The event ultimately raised more than $1.5 million from its 1,450 guests.

BEST WEDDING, BUDGET $50,000 AND ABOVE

Yifat Oren & Associates, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

At a Southern California beach wedding, a chuppah of found driftwood bound with mosses and adorned with hanging amaranthus stood over the couple as they said their vows. Guests celebrated in an open-air reception tent decorated with mosquito netting, monk cloth and burlap, and dined on free-range chicken and fragrant couscous at tables topped with mossy branches, horsetails and glass bowls filled with succulents. Around the room, ottomans and throw pillows offered places to relax between dances.

BEST WEDDING, BUDGET UNDER $50,000

Pura Vida Productions, Annapolis, Md.

On a mountain peak accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles, a part-Apache groom and his bride wed in a shaman-officiated ceremony to the music of a Navajo-Apache flautist. Traditional Native American wedding elements included a blanket ceremony and the circulation of a book in which female guests wrote advice for a long and happy marriage. After the ceremony, guests were shuttled down the mountain to a restaurant for prime rib, grilled salmon and champagne.

BEST FLORAL DESIGN

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

For a 450-guest wedding at Bellagio in Las Vegas, a researcher combed flower markets in Holland and Los Angeles to find exotic blooms. Thousands of calla lilies, orchids and lilacs were imported from the Netherlands and kept in three 45-foot refrigerated trucks and a 2,500-square-foot work space during the week leading to the event. Floral was used to create a wedding canopy, decorate French lampposts lining the aisle and create a “Monet” pond inside the ballroom.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT

Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

At an incentive event for 28 executives from technology startup Metiom, elements of ancient Greek and Mayan cultures were woven into three days of celebration at the Bahamas' Atlantis resort. The event's highlight was a “Night of the Gods” dinner, which established its theme with an invitation from the god Zeus himself. Guests dined at tables set with iron wine goblets and snakeskin patterned napkins while they were entertained by dancers and fire-eaters.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION

The Stuart Rental Co., Milpitas, Calif.

Two separate corporate events got the most bang for their buck when The Stuart Rental Co. came up with a plan to erect one 100-by-200-foot tent that could be used for both events. Scheduled nine days apart at an airplane hangar site, the first event used the tent for a reception area, while the second employed it as an overflow area. The unexpected joint venture allowed each client to capitalize on extra space neither could have afforded independently.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Charles C. Technical Production Group, Newport Beach, Calif./Creative Technology, Van Nuys, Calif.

A conference for Jafra Cosmetics International included 10 corporate meetings for a total of 10,000 attendees over the course of three days. The co-producers met the challenge with 40 semi-trucks, 400 moving lights, 52 miles of cable, 15,000 amps of power and more than 100,000 pounds of equipment. At one meeting, for the introduction of a line of spa products, video images of candles and sunsets projected warmth, while aromatherapy scents were disseminated through the room via a specially designed air system.

BEST USE OF LIGHTING

Big Wave International, Roxbury, Conn.

As the producer of a headmaster's retirement party at a Connecticut private school, Big Wave International created a day-to-night environment inside a dinner tent using intelligent lighting and rotating gobos. For an outdoor presentation, the company used computerized lights to wash 15 campus buildings in primary colors. The evening's highlight was a five-minute intelligent light show over a pond, which featured illuminated spouts rising from the water accompanied by the harmonies of the entire student body.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN RENTAL SUPPORT

Austin RentAll Party, Austin, Texas

For the premiere of the Texas Medal of Arts Award, Austin RentAll designed and organized a tented outdoor event on an Austin city street. In the morning, the company rotated tenting, lighting and power company staff members through lunch in 30-minute shifts to ensure a smooth setup. The company then interfaced with the decor provider and caterer to set up a cocktail reception and buffet dinner. Special efforts included making arrangements to use a water source from a nearby construction site to create luxury restroom accommodations.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS

Sensix Communications & Events, Montreal

When the City of Montreal indicated that it planned to add 26 municipalities to the city, the Union of Suburban Municipalities on the Island of Montreal (UMBM) hired Sensix to coordinate and stage a public demonstration for 75,000 people. The event company had only seven days to plan and 60 minutes to set up street closures, parking for 800 buses, a communications network and mobile flatbed stages. Before the rally, the company had to meet with representatives of 26 suburbs to discuss their ideas and concerns.

BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.

Designs by Sean added paint to spandex sails to come up with a backdrop that could withstand harsh weather and high winds. The spandex murals come in a variety of shapes and sizes including panels, sails and columns, and a range of designs including animals, foliage, celebrity portraits and abstract designs. The folded murals fit into 18-by-18-inch packing boxes and can be washed in a standard washing machine.

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

TLC-Creative Special Effects, Marina del Rey, Calif.

For a corporate meeting hosted by BMC software at Southern California's Hotel Del Coronado, TLC was asked to provide entertainment that focused on the hotel's fame as a haunted site. The effects company used laser graphics to simulate a ghost named Kate, who spoke to the crowd and interacted in a skit performed by live actors. TLC's team also designed a remote detonation system that would allow Kate to “pop” balloons simply by pointing at them.

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

Sensix Communications & Events, Montreal

For an awards event hosted by Tourisme Montreal, Sensix designed entertainment that allowed tourism industry professionals to become tourists for a night. A “virtual” cruise on the fictional S.S. Ulysse took guests to a tropical port of call with a steel band, lighted palm trees and bright color projections. Guests eventually “returned” to a winter scene achieved with a carpet change, snowflake gobos and twinkle lights.

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

Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, Las Vegas/Best Model Talent & Best Production, Las Vegas

Operatic elements went into the Venetian's Gala Fantastico at MPI's educational conference in Las Vegas. As doors opened for the event, guests were met with a colonnade of trumpeters. Once seated, they enjoyed a series of performances including a promenade of 40 characters circulating the room to the music of Verdi's “Aida.” Following dinner, attendees were surrounded by six “Venetian carnival” stages holding jugglers, balancing acts and hoop twirlers.

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE EVENT

Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany

For a Volkswagen exhibit at the Geneva International Motor Show, vehicles were connected to external speaker booths manned by moderators who used their voices to give the cars character and personality. The moderators were also equipped with vehicle information databases, sound effects and music files that could be played back into individual exhibition vehicles. Attendees were able to enter displayed cars and conduct conversations with them.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, BUDGET UNDER $50,000

Barbara Wallace Weddings, Corona del Mar, Calif.

A Southern California reception to celebrate a couple's Maui wedding three weeks earlier brought an island atmosphere to a private clubhouse. Guests sat on fruitwood chiavari chairs at white-linen-draped tables on a patio surrounded by sycamore trees hung with white paper lanterns. Tropical menu items included chicken satay, sushi and passion fruit. At dusk, amber lights washed the patio and dance area to give the impression of a lingering sunset.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, BUDGET $50,000 AND ABOVE

Giants Enterprises, San Francisco

A businessman's 50th birthday was the occasion for 340 guests to celebrate at San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park. Guests were directed through darkened gates to the ballpark's center field, where waiters served cocktails. A dining area with a silver and black color scheme welcomed guests, whose pre-dinner entertainment included a display of 100 illuminated Roman fountains and a performance of “Happy Birthday” set to a seven-minute fireworks show.

BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

The Special Event Co., London/Cornerstone Associates, London

The Special Event Co. used a combination of recognizable typefaces to brand The Press Ball — an event designed to raise the profile of the Newspaper Press Fund, a charity founded by Charles Dickens. Marketing tools included a “Top 50 Front Covers of the Millennium” competition, an auction of event tables through British publications and a promotional video featuring media moguls praising the ball as the “media event of the year.”

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

Imagination Entertainment, San Diego

Imagination Entertainment developed its “Cirque de la Mer” — a water-based cirque-style entertainment production — to serve as an enticing presentation for 2,500 clients and event planners visiting SeaWorld San Diego. The production faced limitations including its setting — a bay under the jurisdiction of both the city and the coastal commission — and the elaborate rigging required. The 30-minute show featured brightly colored sea sprites performing acrobatics and stunts on jet skis.

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

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

For Bass Hotels and Resorts, MGM Mirage developed a theme based on Cirque Du Soleil's aquatic “O” show to complement the poolside venue the client had chosen. Vibrant 18-foot-wide banners decorated a promenade hallway leading to the main event area. Carved mannequins dressed in elaborate handmade costumes loomed atop buffet tables. A performance by a Cirque-inspired “Amphibian Man” completed the thematic picture.

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

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.

For a bat mitzvah with a tropical theme, Designs by Sean divided the event site — a private residence — into two sections. The front of the house became an island, accented by floral table linens, hand-painted flower murals and a steel band. The tented backyard and Plexiglas-covered pool became a coral reef, filled with swaying kelp, coral and fish, all lit by a combination of black light and conventional washes in blues, greens and pinks.

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

Classic World Events, San Jose, Calif.

With “Along the Mission Trail” as its theme, The American Cancer Society hired Classic World Events to produce The Cattle Baron's Ball. More than 200 feet of mission arches and 12 different mission towers were brought to the venue — a 200-foot-high aircraft hangar at Moffett Field military base. Fountains, terra cotta pots, wagons and barrels were used to decorate food stations and fill the interior of the hangar. Almost 1,000 feet of patterned cloth mimicked the twinkling night sky overhead. The event ultimately raised more than $1.5 million from its 1,450 guests.

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

Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Delaney Marketing, Dublin, Ireland

Extraordinary Events created “The Lore of Ireland” at the residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin for client Infinity Broadcasting. The show featured drummers, aerialists, Gaelic songs and traditional dancing, all choreographed along a story line depicting Ireland's history from early Celtic to modern times. A 50-foot fiber-optic ceiling enhanced the performance space, which was draped in black and decorated with Druidic structures.

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

Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

For an event designed to establish Media Asia in the Cannes Film Festival community, Extraordinary Events had only six weeks to create an authentic Chinese celebration in France. The event's “Unlock the Legend” theme was brought to life by an aerialist who descended from a suspended 21-foot inflatable to hand a golden key to Michelle Yeoh, star of the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Media Asia affiliate.

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

Andersen, Chicago

The Chicago office of professional services firm Andersen treated partners, clients and their families to a goodwill and networking event titled “The Heroic Quest: A Journey in Search of Adventure.” Based on a whimsical version of Greek mythology, the event incorporated dancing, magic and storytelling performances with interactive activities such as face-painting and fortune-telling. Young guests received commemorative Mt. Olympus medals as they made their exit.

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

Autostadt GMBH, Wolfsburg, Germany

With a focus on company development and its service philosophy, Volkswagen hosted an event in Germany for 1,200 American and Canadian car dealers. Held at Autostadt, Volkswagen's Wolfsburg-based headquarters, the event included a dinner prepared by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and a “Cirque du Monde” show featuring acrobatics, mime and dance. The goal of this closing performance, which included 95 artists from eight countries, was to showcase the characteristics of Volkswagen cars through human movement and expression.

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