Top industry professionals applauded outstanding work in special events at the Gala Awards ceremony, held Jan. 9 during The Special Event show in Las Vegas.
On these pages, Special Events Magazine is proud to showcase our winners, as chosen by members of our Advisory Board. Get ready to enjoy the best in our business.
Note: Our 2004 Gala Awards competition, which is open for events taking place between Sept. 1, 2003, and Aug. 31, 2004, will begin this June. You will find entry forms in our June, July and August issues and on our Web site beginning in June. The entries will be due in early September. We look forward to seeing your work.
Shapiro & Co., Plano, Texas
Designed to showcase the town of Irving, Texas, and kick off the holiday season in style, the “Mustang Jingle & Jazz” celebration also raised money for local charitable organizations. The one-day celebration featured a hand-carved ice village, gondola rides with Santa, jazz performances by artist Patti Austin and the Lone Star Youth Orchestra, and a grand finale fireworks display.
Imagination Ltd., London
For client Warner Home Video's DVD and video launch of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” Imagination Ltd. designed an invitation that re-flected the spooky Forbidden Forest plot line of the movie. The company created pop-out cubes, illustrated with images of spiders, which jumped out of the invitation as it was opened, startling the recipient. A card hidden behind the cubes provided all the information for the event.
BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN
A Legendary Event, Atlanta
For the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS fund-raiser “Dining By Design,” A Legendary Event evoked an elegant outdoor patio feel by adding a decorative 48-inch cast aluminum top enlarged with a custom-cut wooden ring to a standard 72-inch round table. Wrought iron accent pieces and a dramatic floral chandelier above the one-of-a-kind table design completed the illusion of an al fresco terrace setting.
BEST FOOD PRESENTATION
Culinary Capers Catering, Vancouver, British Columbia
Creative presentation was key to the tropical menu Culinary Capers Catering created for a “Club Med Tahiti” themed birthday party. Highlights included sea bass grilled in banana leaf packets, coconut chicken kebabs displayed in coconut bowls, hollowed-out oranges filled with orange beef and jasmine rice, and lobster salad rolls with Thai basil and passion fruit dip, which set sail in miniature boats in an outdoor birdbath.
BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL BANQUET DEPARTMENT
Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas
For Wine Spectator magazine's California Wine Experience, the Venetian Hotel re-created the sights and smells of a November day for an “Autumn Sojourn in the Napa Valley.” Three 16-foot-tall trees spread their branches above the buffet area, which was decorated with candles, harvest vegetables and a carpet of brilliant foliage. The menu of savory autumn food was designed to complement the wines served at the 1,800-guest Grand Tastings.
BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT
A Legendary Event, Atlanta
For the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS gala, A Legendary Event created a tropical menu that reflected the Hawaiian theme of the 500-guest event, which raised more than $300,000. The menu of grilled lobster tail in a carved papaya vase, osso bucco with pimento macadamia nut risotto, and a dessert trio of coconut crème brôlée, raspberry guava sorbet and tropical fruit was followed by a glass of bubbly courtesy of sponsor Champagne Taittinger.
BEST FUND-RAISING EVENT
Alison Silcoff Events, Montreal
With “Pompadour and Circumstance — un Bal a Versailles” as its theme, the 10th annual Daffodil Ball raised $1.58 million (Canadian) for cancer research, breaking its own record. The historic Windsor Station was transformed by 65 crystal chandeliers suspended above the dining tables, which were decorated with daffodil centerpieces. The 630 guests bought $147,000 worth of raffle tickets, and an auction led by actress Sharon Stone raised a further $75,000.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION
EventScape Inc., Barrington, Ill./Kehoe Designs, Chicago
With the theme “The Many Loves of Carmen” as inspiration, Chicago's Civic Opera House was transformed into a spectacular Mediterranean village, replete with vine-covered balconies and fountains, for the Alzheimer Association's Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala. The 800-guest event, which featured a flamenco performance and a four-course menu by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, raised more than $1 million for Alzheimer's research.
BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST
A Legendary Event, Atlanta
Famous landmarks in the city of Paris were re-created in a downtown Atlanta loft for a wedding reception with the theme “A Last Tango in Paris.” Guests enjoyed performances by professional tango and cancan dancers, while an ice bar featuring a 2½-foot-tall ice Eiffel Tower offered three varieties of champagne. The couple's request for a French-influenced vegan menu extended to the soy-based wedding cake, each layer of which was decorated with black lace and red roses.
BEST WEDDING: BUDGET ABOVE $2,000 PER GUEST
John Daly Inc. International, Santa Barbara, Calif./Lori Parks Corporate Events, Bloomfield, Mich.
Fifteen acres of undeveloped property intended as the future home of the bride and groom was the setting for a fairy-tale wedding and reception. The August ceremony took place in the garden in a custom-made gazebo covered with 5,000 white roses. Afterward, guests celebrated in a dining pavilion draped in gold silk charmeuse and dined on rack of lamb and veal tenderloin from Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events.
BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION
Create Food Ltd., London
For client The Ultimate Experience, a corporate event management company, Create Food provided elegant, imaginative cuisine for 105 events — held at six differently themed venues across London — over a three-week period leading up to the Christmas holidays. Venue themes included the Morocco-inspired “Casablanca” and the classic “Holiday in the Square.” Over the 21 days, 25,000 guests were served 11,000 mince pies, 75,000 desserts and 150,000 hors d'oeuvre.
BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $500 to $2,000 PER GUEST
Yifat Oren & Associates, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Traditional and avant-garde design elements were the highlights of a 300-guest June wedding held at the Los Angeles Music Center. The Chinese bride and Jewish groom were married under an Asian-inspired chuppah made from bamboo poles and topped with red carnation finials. Guests sipped lychee martinis before dining at tables decorated with dramatic centerpieces of twisted willow branches hung with glass bulbs displaying white orchids.
BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT
Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.
Thirty-six guests attended VIASYS Healthcare's five-day incentive event, which was held at the Bahamas' Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. The “Mystic Powers of Atlantis” themed event was inspired by ancient mythology and two glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly, which are on display at the venue. Guests enjoyed a five-course dinner that incorporated mythological elements into the table design and menu.
BEST FLORAL DESIGN
Matthew David Events, New York
Sixteen candle-lit floral sconces, each made from 3,300 blossoms, and a custom-built domed floral chuppah were just some of the beautiful floral creations created by Matthew David Events for a wedding held at New York's Plaza Hotel. The signature element, a 14-foot-tall floral chandelier designed to hang in the Grand Ballroom, was made using 50,000 dendrobium orchids and Dutch hydrangea blossoms.
BEST USE OF LIGHTING
Pacific Destination Services, Vancouver, British Columbia/Q1 Production Technologies, Vancouver, British Columbia
For the 100-guest incentive event “Discoveries on Ice,” an intimate setting for a dinner and figure skating show was created in a large hockey arena through use of a curtain and custom-designed lighting to spotlight the dining tables and ice. A 30-foot-tall black drape decorated with large images of famous ice skaters and hockey players lit from above ringed the perimeter of the ice. The ice itself was lit by a dramatic color wash of blues, purples and pinks.
BEST TENT INSTALLATION
De Boer Vinings, Atlanta
For the two-week “Inventing Flight: Dayton 2003” event celebrating the 100-year anniversary of aviation history and the Wright Brothers, De Boer Vinings installed three of its “Delta” structures in a Dayton, Ohio, park to create ex-hibit pavilions for sponsors Lockheed Martin, Bank One and Lexis Nexis. Each 20-foot-tall structure measured more than 10,000 square feet and took three days to install.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT
ASI Production Services, Orlando, Fla.
At The Special Event 2003 in Orlando, ASI designed a “stage in the round,” which served as the focal point of the Special Events Magazine Gala Awards dinner. Surrounded by banquet tables, the 56-by-56-foot square stage — which featured a 24-foot circular stage fitted with a trap door in the center and a 12-foot-diameter turntable in each corner — provided an unobstructed view of the spectacular entertainment for everyone in the audience.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS
PRI Productions, Jacksonville, Fla.
PRI Productions designed a patriotic “Celebrate America” themed half-time show for more than 60,000 fans at the first game of the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2002 football season. The grand finale of the seven-minute program featured some of the event's 500 volunteers unfurling 875 yards of red, white and blue material to create a 90-by-120-foot American flag as fireworks exploded and F-16 fighter jets flew over the field.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT
ASI Production Services, Orlando, Fla.
At The Special Event 2003 Theme Lunch, held at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, ASI brought a 24-by-32-foot hydraulic mobile stage into the ballroom, where it was hidden behind a white cyclorama decorated with fiber-optic lights. The stage was then dramatically revealed as the curtain went up to the opening music of a performance by fire dancers dressed in Polynesian attire.
BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET UNDER $25,000
Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
To create a memorable and educational experience for Mexico City-based CEMEX, Extraordinary Events designed a walking tour through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain, that showcased the city's history and local performers. Guests met with actors dressed as characters — including Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus — who recounted stories about Barcelona's history. Musical performances included a band of wandering minstrels and a choir concert of medieval music.
BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY
Graphic Globe, Orlando, Fla.
Graphic Globe redesigned its product specifically for the special event industry just two weeks before presenting it at the 2003 Special Events Gala Awards Celebration. The 15-inch-high, 11-inch-diameter globes, which use a computer program and LED surface to display images from corporate logos to flying butterflies, present the projections in a pixel format. To make the globes wireless, power cords were replaced with battery packs capable of lasting for six hours.
BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET $25,000 TO $100,000
John Daly Inc. International, Santa Barbara, Calif./New Century Dance Co., Miami
For a “Paradise Under the Sea” themed event in Hawaii, John Daly Inc. International and New Century Dance Co. worked together to design entertainment that would highlight the event's undersea decor and motif. Three choreographers created an elaborate three-part production consisting of neoclassical dance routines, which were performed on a sand-covered floor and a raised stage by dancers dressed as mermaids, fish and other creatures of the sea.
BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET ABOVE $100,000
Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany
At a 1,300-guest event for car manufacturer Citroen, Vok Dams Gruppe designed a futuristic circus atmosphere around the theme “Thinking in Motion.” Guests moved through rooms that were constantly changing via projected images and lighting effects, before enjoying a dinner that in-cluded a laser and media effects show. The finale was the interactive unveiling of a new car model, which was accompanied by musical and dance performances.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST
ASE Group, Overland Park, Kan.
ASE Group designed an elegant bat mitzvah celebration that took its inspiration from the guest of honor's favorite flower, the daisy. With less than two days to set up, a gymnasium attached to a synagogue was transformed by covering the walls with white cloth and creating three elaborate tables shaped like daisies. Five white petal-shaped tables radiated out from a 72-inch round center, each covered in 1,000 yellow flowers.
MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE
Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany
For the unveiling of two new Volkswagen models at the 2003 Geneva Auto Show, Vok Dams Gruppe overcame the building and technical restrictions of the venue through the theme “Experiencing Free Space.” Themed zones were created — representing the freedom of nature through light, sound and images — that helped communicate the feeling of excitement that the car manufacturer wanted for its new models.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST
Center of Attention, Burbank, Calif.
Center of Attention designed an elaborate combination renewal of wedding vows, 50th birthday party and New Year's Eve party for celebrities Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. The ceremony took place in a room lavishly decorated in shades of cream and ivory, including a curtain covered with more than 10,000 fresh roses. Afterward, 400 guests were treated to personalized photographs and gift bags full of the couple's favorite products.
BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Automotive Marketing Consultants, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Hired to create more brand recognition for Mazda vehicles, Automotive Marketing Consultants developed the “Mazda Rev It Up” campaign, which consisted of a 15-city tour of the United States. For a nominal fee, more than 600 attendees a day experienced a daylong racing school — taught by professional race car drivers — that culminated in individually timed race trials in Mazda6 sports sedans.
BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $20,000
An Original Occasion, Los Angeles/Steve Kemble Event Design, Dallas
At the request of client Gamespot, An Original Occasion and Steve Kemble Event Design transformed an artist's loft in downtown Los Angeles into a fun and kitschy backyard barbecue. Plastic pink flamingoes, vintage rattan furniture, an inflatable pool filled with beach balls, and rubber galoshes filled with flowers were just some of the funky items used to re-create a retro backyard setting.
BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION
E=MC2 Event Management, Calgary, Alberta
For Calgary Cares 2003, an AIDS fund-raising event, more than 250 volunteers were involved in a nine-part choreographed stage show with the theme “Release — A Day in the Life of a Street.” Volunteers rehearsed for five months before the performance, which was designed to show the diversity of street life and raise awareness about the wide variety of people affected by AIDS.
BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $20,000 TO $50,000
EventWorks, Los Angeles
EventWorks re-created “The Buddha Bar,” a famous Parisian nightclub, at an event for the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. An Asian-inspired color scheme of red, orange and yellow was set off by the selective use of blue lighting for a hip nightclub atmosphere. The dining area featured tables covered in custom-made gold shantung tablecloths and a 30-foot-tall projected image of a giant gold Buddha.
BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $50,000
Alison Silcoff Events, Montreal/Dick Walsh, New York
For the Daffodil Ball — the 630-guest fund-raiser benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society — Alison Silcoff Events re-created the elegance of an 18th cen-tury French ball with the theme “Pompadour and Circumstance — un Bal a Versailles.” The transformation of historic Windsor Station included two elegantly furnished 18th century salons, 65 crystal chandeliers suspended above the dining tables, and 55,000 daffodils.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $100,000 TO $249,999
Moving Venue Management, London
The first annual Grand Prix Winter Ball, held at London's Natural History Museum, celebrated the end of the Formula One racing season and raised money for the Spinal Injury Charity. Guests were greeted by painted human statues and enjoyed a performance by three opera singers during the three-course dinner. To accommodate the venue's strict closing hour, at midnight 45 limousines carried the 450 guests to a nightclub in London.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET UNDER $100,000
Festivex Special Events, Gatineau, Quebec
For a large pharmaceutical company's sales conference, Festivex Special Events created a “Moulin Rouge” themed fantasy held at Le Medley nightclub, a historic Montreal venue. Guests were greeted with gifts of feather boas and top hats, then were treated to cocktails named after characters from the 2001 film. The nonstop entertainment featured 12 different acts — including magicians, caricaturists, fortunetellers and dancers — that kept the crowd amused during the five-hour event.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $250,000 TO $500,000
Rare Indigo, Vancouver, British Columbia
For client Tourism British Columbia, Rare Indigo designed an event that would showcase the best the province has to offer to more than 1,300 international tour operators. The guests had the chance to sample regional delicacies from six buffet stations, as well as wine from 10 British Columbia wineries and beer from local breweries. The region's cultural diversity was celebrated through performances by a First Nations tribe and Chinese dragon dancers.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET ABOVE $500,000
MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas
For the 1,800-guest MGM Mirage Employee of the Year Gala, the theme “When All of the Puzzle Pieces Fit” represented the merging of six separate properties into one corporate family. Each of the properties was assigned a color, which was woven throughout the event's decor. Each dining table was decorated with color-coded velvet linens and napkins, while overhead, Austrian crystal bead chandeliers changed colors during the ceremony as each property was mentioned.