Special Events

TIPS, TRENDS & TIDBITS: Happy Campers

For the product launch of Subaru's all-terrain vehicles in Washington state, PJ Hummel & Co. of Tacoma, Wash., came up with a 1920s safari theme with a nostalgic Pacific North-west twist.

"We first thought of doing an African safari theme with Oriental rugs and chaise longues," says owner P.J. Hummel. "But there was snow on the ground, so it didn't make sense to go with an African theme." She adds that the limited budget was a further hindrance to the original decor idea. "Besides, 'safari' means 'great journey'-it doesn't have to be a journey in Africa."

The launch consisted of two road trips, each for 50 journalists. The guests drove the new vehicles from Seattle 200 miles to the woods surrounding Winthrop, Wash.-based Sun Mountain Lodge, which produced the event.

The destination, a campsite featuring 25 sleeping tents and a dinner tent, was specially erected on Sun Mountain Lodge's secluded picnic area. To dec- orate the tents, PJ Hummel & Co. "pillaged our business inventory, our personal collections, antique and thrift stores, estate sales and even a local theater," says Hummel.

All the sleeping tents had two cots, each draped in yards of gauze mosquito netting. A nightstand, a vintage copy of National Geographic magazine and a rustic rag rug completed the decor. Vintage oil paintings, prints of local mountains and period calendars decorated the walls.

Each tent also featured an entry vignette, consisting of antique wicker and vine baskets, vintage books, leather suitcases, trunks, picture books, native floral arrangements and other nostalgic ornaments. Outdoor vignettes surrounding the tents included Adirondack furniture made of old picket fences, washtubs from the Hummel family farm, birdhouses and a saddle.

The dining tent featured a Northwest-inspired buffet with a 6-foot-high twig arbor, miniature wicker chairs and baskets, and birdhouses. The Hummel team decorated the dining tables with rocks from a nearby stream, birch and huckleberry branches, pine boughs, and bits of moss and bark, which the team collected from the surrounding woods.

Hummel and her team are happy campers: The event earned them a 1999 Gala Award in the category Best Theme Decor, Budget $10,000 to $25,000. -T.M.

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