Special Events

Gala Award Nominees

The Special Events Magazine Gala Awards judges — all members of our Advisory Board — have read through the hundreds of entries we received to find the best-planned, most beautifully designed events in 35 categories covering everything from the top tent installations to the best dining table designs. On the following pages, we are pleased to showcase the outstanding 2005 Gala Award nominees. Trophies will be handed out on Jan. 13 at the black-tie Gala Awards and Celebration at The Special Event 2006 in Dallas. Stay tuned for the winning entries, which will be announced in our February issue. — The Editors

Best Fair/Festival

CITY OF GARLAND, GARLAND, TEXAS

The City of Garland's 2005 “Star-Spangled Fourth” festival, held over the Fourth of July weekend, featured the theme “With Liberty and Fun for All.” The 17th annual festival included a carnival midway with rides, craft booths, a food court, and a hospitality tent decorated with a New York skyline and a 6-foot-tall Statue of Liberty that highlighted the “liberty” theme. More than 153,000 people attended the four-day celebration, which had musical performances by veteran rock band Styx, jazz singer Jeffrey Osborne and country artist Tracy Lawrence, as well as nightly fireworks shows.

KEN-RAN PRODUCTIONS, RICHARDSON, TEXAS

The 2005 Roswell UFO Festival brought together musical performances and UFO lore for a four-day festival commemorating the supposed crash of a flying saucer in the New Mexico desert in 1947. Over the Fourth of July weekend, attendees took in an Alien Oldies Concert featuring the Shirelles, the Coasters and Mary Wilson of the Supremes; other out-of-this-world activities included an Alien Market selling science fiction wares, exhibits at the UFO Museum, the Alien Chase Walk/Run, the Galactic Costume Contest, and lectures by scientists and UFO experts.

THE LUNDQUIST CO., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

More than 3,500 children and parents attended the First 5 Sacramento Children's Celebration, a one-day festival designed to promote the programs of First 5 California, an agency devoted to developing good health and nutrition habits in children under the age of five. Held in a Sacramento park, the event featured the Fairytale Town amusement park where children could play; the adjacent Resource Expo offered kid-friendly entertainment such as zoo animals, puppet-makers and interactive storytellers, which kept children busy while parents explored educational program booths.

Best Invitation

ARLENE SEGAL DESIGN GROUP, NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA.

An oil magnate's surprise 50th birthday party at a Las Vegas hotel inspired a “Mission Impossible” themed invitation from Arlene Segal Designs. Each guest received an invitation that consisted of a custom-fitted brushed steel attaché case filled with seven components, including a CD player and original CD recording that guided guests through the steps of completing their “birthday mission,” a dossier filled with information about the guest of honor, a magnifying glass, and an official-looking passport filled with the time and date details of the birthday celebration.

WALTONA MANION & ASSOCIATES, VAN NUYS, CALIF./BONNIE SCHWARTZ DESIGN GROUP, SAN DIEGO

The invitation for the grand opening of the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., reflected the rich traditions of the Morongo Nation. Nestled inside each custom-made box — designed to look like textured parchment paper — was an embossed cardstock invitation with event details engraved using letterpress printing. Underneath the invitation, an inset channel lined with silver foil held gifts of freshly bundled white sage hand-tied with string and a vellum sheet describing the significance of sage to the Morongo tribe.

ARTFUL PARTIES AND EVENTS, SALINA, KAN.

For the grand opening of the Rolling Hills Wildlife Museum, Artful Parties and Events created an interactive invitation that encouraged guests to heed the call of the wild. In addition to the event's time and date information, the booklet-style invitation was filled with acetate pages featuring animal designs that could be used with the invitation's attached flashlight to create shadow images of exhibits that they would experience at the museum. Small printed footprints throughout the invitation tied it into to the event's “First Footsteps at Rolling Hills” theme.

Best Dining Table Design

SASHA SOUZA EVENTS, NAPA, CALIF.

A wedding in Mexico with a “Noche del Fuego” (Night of Fire) theme inspired a flaming tabletop designed by Sasha Souza Events. A custom 6-inch-wide fire pit — filled with volcanic rock and sea glass and bordered by handmade terra-cotta tiles — ran along the center of a 60-foot-long table set up on a secluded beach. The glowing fire pit highlighted tabletop items that played off the wedding's exotic tropical locale, such as a tablecloth made from banana leaves, woven grass place mats, and clear hand-blown margarita and wine glasses with cobalt blue rims.

CHERYL'S DISTINCTIVE CREATIONS, OCOEE, FLA.

For a NACE meeting with a “Rock 'N' Roll Explosion” theme, Cheryl's Distinctive Creations designed tabletops that celebrated the popularity of rock music from the 1960s through the 1990s. A long metal wire centerpiece — inspired by a musical clef and intertwined with items such as guitar picks, drumsticks and CDs — stretched along the length of each rectangular table. Portable video screens playing music videos, vintage vinyl album covers used as chargers, and black spandex-covered chairs topped with white napkins to imitate a piano keyboard completed the rock 'n' roll design.

SASHA SOUZA EVENTS, NAPA, CALIF.

Guests at a wedding dinner held in a volcanic ash cave at Hans Fahden Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif., sat at a T-shaped table fitted with a custom-made bronzed mirror that reflected the surrounding garden party decor and an overhead arbor of moss-covered dogwood branches. A dramatic runner of lush scarlet roses and crimson carnations ran down the center of the reflective table, which also featured a red silk table skirt and clear glassware and dinner plates that allowed the mirrored tabletop to shine through.

Best Off-Premise Catered Event

A JOY WALLACE CATERING PRODUCTION & DESIGN TEAM, MIAMI

A Joy Wallace Catering rolled out the pink carpet for a hot pink-themed grand-opening event at luxury retailer Nordstrom's new south Florida store. Female servers in bright pink wigs and male servers in pink neckties tray-passed POP pink champagne and watermelon martinis, as well as hors d'oeuvre with touches of pink and red ingredients. Sleek pink buffet tables topped with bright white serving platters and a fun candy-apple station with a caramel fountain thrilled the event's 1,500 guests.

MAJOR THE GOURMET LTD., VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Major the Gourmet changed the Vancouver Port Authority Cruise Ship Terminal into an “Inukshuk Trail” themed event that showcased traditional Canadian culture and cuisine to 2,300 international guests. To keep guests moving through the cavernous space, the catering team divided it into four areas representing different facets of Canadian life. The Longhouse area, for example, reflected the First Nations tribal culture and served dishes of indigenous ingredients such as fiddlehead fern salad, cedar planked salmon, Dungeness crab cakes and blueberry bars.

A LEGENDARY EVENT, ATLANTA

For a Nordstrom grand-opening gala in Atlanta, A Legendary Event infused everything from carpets to cocktails with sunny yellow hues and '60s-inspired daisy designs. The 1,500 guests entered the new Nordstrom store by following the “yellow brick road”; once inside, they sampled dishes with yellow ingredients such as shredded pork bruschetta with corn puree, which were served on yellow-and-white buffet tables topped with vases of yellow tulips. At the “candy shop” station, guests could fill yellow takeout containers with treats such as yellow M&Ms and gumballs.

Best Catered Event Produced by a Hotel Banquet Department

HARITH PRODUCTIONS, WILLOW GROVE, PA./THE WESTIN LOS CABOS, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

The sights and flavors of the Baja Peninsula were incorporated into a pharmaceutical company's “Evening at Los Cabos” themed incentive event, where guests dined at tables covered in aqua and turquoise linen that enhanced the topical setting. The five-course menu highlighted the ingredients and culture of the Baja Peninsula, such as avocado-and-ginger soup with a crispy cookie in the shape of a whale's tail, a cactus-and-passion-fruit sorbet, and grilled beef tenderloin and spiced lobster tail framed by a baked cracker shaped like the region's famed El Arco rock formation.

THE RITZ-CARLTON DEARBORN, DEARBORN, MICH.

The Ritz-Carlton Dearborn created a racy boudoir-themed event for the “Fash Bash” patron party benefiting the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Guests were greeted by bathrobe-clad attendants who ushered them into a ballroom filled with white linen-covered tables and chairs, sheer white organza panels and plush king-size beds that re-created Miami's chic B.E.D nightclub. Butler-passed hors d'oeuvre included lobster-aioli cones served on painter's palettes, Thai fishcakes served on bamboo teaming trays, and a bedtime snack of warm chocolate chip cookies and chilled milk shooters.

THE VENETIAN RESORT-HOTEL-CASINO, LAS VEGAS

Inspired by the movies “Vatel” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” the “Feast of the Doge” themed event showcased The Venetian's event and banqueting capabilities to 32 potential clients. An X-shaped table surrounded by tableaux vivants held dramatic piece montée creations such as a chocolate Venetian mask, chocolate columns and a pulled-sugar lion. Thirty-two costumed servers presented guests with five courses that included acorn-and-butternut-squash bisque with walnut-truffle foam, macadamia nut-dusted halibut with curried fruit relish, and a stunning Venetian tile mosaic dessert.

Best Fund-Raising Event

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

The Canadian Cancer Society's 12th annual Daffodil Ball lived up to its name, incorporating 50,000 fresh daffodils and 15,000 silk versions into a decor scheme that included a dramatic daffodil carpet at the venue entrance. The 660 guests attending the sold-out event, held at Montreal's historic Windsor Station, sat at tables clustered together in monochromatic groups of yellow, turquoise and green. A performance by swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a high-ticket item auction and the addition of the “After-Hours Ball” for younger guests helped raise a record $1.98 million dollars (Canadian) for the cause.

GARRETT HOSPITALITY GROUP, COLUMBUS, OHIO

For the James Cancer Center's annual “Up on the Roof” fund-raiser, Garrett Hospitality Group created a 1920s-themed event that included “Keystone Cops” and a performance of tunes from the Broadway musical “Chicago” while accommodating a venue change due to weather just 72 hours before event night. A '20s Chicago street scene served as the backdrop for the cocktail hour; afterward, guests were ushered into a “speakeasy” with a dramatic red-and-black color scheme for dinner and entertainment. The 1,050-guest soiree raised more than $400,000 for cancer research and care.

TOLO EVENTS, SEATTLE

The “Bonsai Bash” fund-raiser for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh celebrated all things Asian, with sleek decor that included a custom Lucite-topped dance floor lit from underneath and filled with sand, river rocks, water lilies and lily pads, and performances by traditional Japanese taiko drummers. The cocktail tent featured two distinct areas: the Buddha Bar, a red-and-gold nightclub setting, and the serene Zen-inspired Bamboo Bar. Football legend Dan Marino and actress Jamie Lee Curtis served as honorary chairs for the event, which raised $3.6 million for the hospital.

Best Event Produced for a Nonprofit Organization

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

The Canadian Cancer Society's 12th annual Daffodil Ball lived up to its name, incorporating 50,000 fresh daffodils and 15,000 silk versions into a decor scheme that included a dramatic daffodil carpet at the venue entrance. The 660 guests dined on a four-course dinner that included a dessert trio of maple- mocha- and vanilla-flavored crème brÛlée, each served in an eggshell. A performance by swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, an auction of items such as a trip to Thailand, and the addition of the “After-Hours Ball” for younger guests helped raise a record $1.98 million dollars (Canadian) for the cause.

TOLO EVENTS, SEATTLE

The “Bonsai Bash” fund-raiser for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh celebrated all things Asian, with sleek decor that included a custom Lucite-topped dance floor lit from beneath and filled with sand, river rocks, water lilies and lily pads, and performances by traditional Japanese taiko drummers. Football legend Dan Marino and actress Jamie Lee Curtis — the honorary chairs for the event — encouraged attendees to bid on auction items such as a 2005 V-Rod Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which contributed to the $3.6 million the event raised for the hospital.

SBC PARK, SAN FRANCISCO

The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation's “Heart and Soul” gala put 130 5-foot-tall heart sculptures — decorated by local artists and previously showcased on the streets of San Francisco — on display on the SBC Park field. Guests wandered among the dramatically uplit hearts during the cocktail reception before enjoying dinner and a silent auction, where they bid on 25 of the hearts. Heart-shaped gobos projected onto the walls and all-red decor that included ruby carpets, linen and floral arrangements reinforced the gala's theme, raising both awareness and more than $2 million for the foundation.

Best Wedding: Budget Under $500 Per Guest

CREATIVE OCCASIONS WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH, LA JOLLA, CALIF.

Creative Occasions staged a wedding reception at a private school for a couple who had met while they were students there — the first private social function allowed on school grounds. Following the ceremony at a nearby church, a bagpiper led the 400 guests in a procession onto the campus, where floral pomander balls and lanterns suspended from 20-foot-tall trees created a grand entrance. Guests entered the reception venue — a 10,000-square-foot tent erected on the school quad — along a 40-foot-long path strewn with rose petals; inside, a green-and-rose-pink color scheme and horseshoe icons symbolizing luck set the scene.

CREATIVE OCCASIONS WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH, LA JOLLA, CALIF.

The bride and groom's private ranch in the mountains outside San Diego was the setting for a casual, country-chic wedding and reception. The ceremony took place beside the ranch's picturesque pond; afterward, the barns, stables and surrounding gardens served as the reception site. Inside the barn, dramatic candles floated above a soup station, while straw bales and wildflower-filled oak barrels brought the countryside indoors. Ivory satin linen with burlap overlays covered dining tables and action stations set up in the corrals, while hand-pounded copper tins filled with wildflower arrangements created rustic centerpieces.

VP EVENTS, WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIF.

For the wedding of a Jewish groom and a Greek bride who met in Miami, VP Events created a wedding reception with a “Miami Heat, Cuban-style” theme in Santa Barbara, Calif. The couple's heritages were incorporated into the ceremony, which included both a Jewish chuppah and the Greek tradition of crowning of the couple with wreaths. A performance by a Spanish guitarist and a wedding feast of Cuban cuisine added Latin flair to the reception, as did the red-hued drapes, linen, candles, flowers and lighting in the reception hall.

Best Wedding: Budget $500 and Above Per Guest

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

A traditional daylong Indian wedding between a Sikh and Hindu couple received two distinct looks for the morning ceremony and evening reception. The ceremony, held at the client's newly constructed residence, featured a stunning color scheme of vivid pink, orange and red — seen in the table umbrellas, linen and floral arrangements — inspired by the bride's wedding attire. The evening reception at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel [Calif.] had a shimmering “Midnight Forest” theme that used a powder-blue palette and more than 1,000 phalaenopsis orchids, as well as a musical performance by a Bollywood star.

EPICUREAN CATERING, GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO.

A custom gazebo and tent installation created a stunning ceremony and reception site for a 500-guest wedding held at the groom's parents' house. The wedding featured an eye-catching lemon, lime and orange color scheme, including custom linen in citrus hues and floral arrangements that incorporated fresh lemons, limes and oranges into the designs. Following a multi-course dinner, the home's pool became a dance floor through the installation of a Plexiglas floor over the water; overhead, the clear-top tent strung with thousands of strings of twinkle lights created a starry nighttime effect.

SASHA SOUZA EVENTS, NAPA, CALIF.

A gunmetal-gray-and-scarlet-red color scheme enhanced a “Fire and Ice” themed winter wedding held at the Hans Fahden Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif. Following the ceremony and cocktail reception in the English garden, 90 guests entered the vineyard's volcanic ash cave for the wedding dinner, which was served at a T-shaped table fitted with a custom-made bronzed mirror that reflected an overhead arbor of moss-covered dogwood branches. A dramatic runner of scarlet roses and crimson carnations ran down the center of the table, while clear glassware and plates allowed the mirrored tabletop to shine through.

Best Multiple-Day Incentive Event

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

A bank's incentive event in Hawaii delved into Hawaiian history for a “Pure Aloha” experience. The “Hang Ten” welcome event celebrated the state's surfer lifestyle with a festive bash on the beach. The “Asian Aloha” awards gala blended Asian and Hawaiian elements, such as 16-foot-tall Japanese kimonos painted with Hawaiian flora that served as room decor. The final night's “Totally '80s” party flashed back to the decade of excess with vivid neon table linen and lighting, wall collages of '80s icons including Madonna and an appearance by basketball legend Magic Johnson.

ISIS DESIGN, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

Isis Design created seven Big Easy-themed events that highlighted the host city's unique flavors, music and vibe for a bank's four-day incentive event in New Orleans. Three breakfast events served American, French and Spanish cuisine to celebrate the city's rich history. For the welcome reception, ballrooms at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans were transformed into a street festival with signature cuisine and cocktails, tarot card and palm reading rooms, and a “Voodoo Lounge.” The “Masquerade Ball” awards gala — a re-creation of a traditional Mardi Gras ball — featured an opulent red-and-gold decor scheme and a jazz band.

HELLO FLORIDA, ORLANDO, FLA.

Hello Florida produced a three-day “Passport to the World's Best” incentive event at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando [Fla.] for a data management company's 400 top employees and their spouses. The first night's “Puttin' on the Ritz” networking event re-created the elegant white-linen lawn parties of the 1920s. The second evening's “Two Tickets to Paradise” event featured tropical food stations, routines by limbo dancers and stilt-walkers, and a band playing Jimmy Buffet songs. The final-night gala went “On Broadway” with performances of popular tunes from Broadway shows such as “Evita,” “Mamma Mia” and “Cats.”

Best Multiple-Day Event Program for a Corporation or Association

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

For the Honda Motors' NH Circle World Convention in Long Beach, Calif., Extraordinary Events produced two back-to-back evening functions that celebrated Honda's diversity on both a local and global level. The first night highlighted the cultures of host continent countries the United States, Canada and Mexico with food stations serving regional cuisine and performances by a Canadian dance troupe and a mariachi band. The second night's global theme featured projections of international icons such as Big Ben and the Great Wall of China and a show by The Three Waiters to convey a worldwide message to the international attendees.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, INVERNESS, ILL.

Total Event Resources developed a “Crunch Time” theme to rev up attendees at the International Truck and Engine Corp.'s Parts and Service Expo in Las Vegas. The three-day event, inspired by reality TV shows “American Chopper” and “Monster Garage,” featured emcees modeled after the father-son team on “American Chopper,” performances by a garage rock band and an appearance by comedian Howie Mandel. During the closing session, a custom-built company truck fitted with a jet engine was driven into the show floor, where 1,800 attendees watched a video of the “I-Team” truck burn a competitor's truck to the ground.

VOK DAMS, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

A series of events in Barcelona, Spain, introduced the new Puma Red for Women and Puma White for Men fragrances to a group of 80 international lifestyle journalists. A “scent tour” of the city showcased ingredients used in the fragrances, such as a visit to one of the city's oldest liquor stores where guests sampled Limoncello liqueur that highlighted the fragrances' lemon notes. A red-and-white launch event at Barcelona's new Puma store featured a choreographed performance where “boy met girl” thanks to the fragrances and concluded with a dramatic reveal of the new bottles.

Best Event Staged in Multiple Locations

AMCI, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

A 12-city, 11-state roadshow with a “Put it in Play” theme let more than 10,000 young consumers discover the Toyota brand through a series of high-energy, entertaining events. The ACMI team redesigned common schoolyard games into activities such as “Vehicular Dodgeball” and “Capture the Checkered Flag” that were played behind the wheel of Toyota vehicles to showcase their speed, handling and agility. Non-driving activities such as Car-e-oke — where participants sang karaoke while sitting in a Toyota Celica — and retro cafeteria-style foodservice added to the cool, youthful vibe.

AMCI, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

AMCI created the “M-Class Road Rally” tour to launch the completely redesigned Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV. Over a 15-week period, the tour visited 37 markets across 24 states using four simultaneous tour caravans, attracting a total of 46,000 participants. Inside the tents used for the “lifestyle event” show, designer details such as backlit polycarbonate panels and plasma screen monitors created a luxury environment that reinforced the brand's message. Visitors could take unlimited demo drives of the M-Class and competitor vehicles, as well as visit displays by partner brands such as Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue and Smashbox Cosmetics.

UNIPLAN, KERPEN, GERMANY

Uniplan created a series of events with the theme “Volvo Park Lounge — Music, Picnic & More 2004” to present a new image of Swedish manufacturer Volvo's cars to a German audience. For seven weekends, the roadshow moved to a different parkland or castle venue across Germany; at each site, attendees could rest on designer lounge furniture set up outdoors, enjoy activities such as cooking demonstrations, rock-climbing and live music, and take test drives of Volvo vehicles. A week before the roadshow arrived in each city, a Volvo V-70 car covered in artificial turf drove around the city to promote the upcoming event.

Best Floral Design

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

An intimate wedding for 70 guests inspired an array of floral designs for each stage of the ceremony. For the poolside ceremony, 300 small glass vases filled with macara orchids were suspended above the aisle, which was lined with oval wooden bowls filled with palm fronds, pink orchids and peonies, and a single green cymbidium orchid. Inside the reception room, 14 sculptured iron trees interwoven with white dogwood blossom branches surrounded the perimeter, while tables featured centerpieces of tall wooden vases filled with vivid pink peonies and roses, orange lilies and tulips, and green hydrangea.

SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN, TARZANA, CALIF./MICHAEL WALLS FLORALS & EVENTS, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.

Someone's in the Kitchen and Michael Walls Florals & Events accommodated a bridal couple's desire for thousands of roses on their wedding day by using the blossoms in both traditional centerpieces and as unique decor accents. The doorway to the reception venue — the couple's on-the-market house — was surrounded with a floral arch, while the moss-covered sign-in table was paved with rose heads. Inside the clear-span dining tent, 12 wrought-iron chandeliers covered in roses hung above guests' heads, while curtain tiebacks made from rose clusters pinned the burgundy velvet drapes at the tent's entrance.

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING & EVENT DESIGNS, SILVER SPRING, MD.

For a fall wedding, Janet Flowers Wedding & Event Designs showcased the abundance of autumn using blossoms in rich tones that complemented the burgundy, moss, copper and gold color palette of the wedding. More than 4,000 roses, 3,000 hand-harvested and dried hydrangea blossoms, and 1,700 stems of calla lilies, hanging amaranthus, dried berries and vines were used to create table centerpieces of wrought-iron sculptures and florals, as well as to cover the venue's eight structural columns with greenery, vines and blossoms.

Best Tent Installation: Tent Budget Under $75,000

PREMIERE TENTS & EVENTS, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Premiere Tents & Events installed an American flag-patterned tent for the 50th anniversary celebration of an aerospace company. The 60-by-100-foot pole tent, set up on the asphalt parking lot of the company, was used as a venue for the event's 12 scheduled speakers to address the 875 attendees. In order for the tent to be climate controlled, vinyl tent walls and windows were positioned around the perimeter to enclose it; keeping the tent interior cool in the Texas summer heat required 75 tons of air conditioning.

SELECT EVENT RENTALS, PENNSAUKEN, N.J.

For a “Fairytale Garden” wedding reception held at the residence of the bride's parents, Select Event Rentals erected seven tents covering 6,500 square feet in the home's gardens to create spaces for dining and dancing. The company attached a 48-by-60-foot clear-span tent, a 30-by-40-foot frame tent and a 10-by-30-foot frame tent to the rear of the house, then installed a 33-by-48-foot carpeted subfloor. On another wing of the house, three tents were guttered together to create a cocktail lounge, and a 14-by-14-foot caterer's tent was installed outside the home's kitchen.

TOP PRODUCTIONS, RICHMOND, CALIF.

Top Productions set up more than 300 10-by-10-foot high-peaked tension canopies to be used by artists and food vendors at the Sausalito Arts Festival, which had 50,000 visitors over the Labor Day weekend. For the 600-guest opening gala on Friday night, the company erected a 100-by-140-foot semi-permanent structure for dinner and dancing. After the event ended at midnight, the team removed the gabled end of the structure, cleared out tables and chairs, and dismantled the dance floor to create a shady space for attendees to enjoy live music when the festival began at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Best Tent Installation: Tent Budget $75,000 and Above

CLASSIC PARTY RENTALS, BURLINGAME, CALIF./STANLEE R. GATTI DESIGNS, SAN FRANCISCO

For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Modern Ball fund-raiser, Classic Party Rentals installed a 80-by-85-foot clear-span tent and a 5,000-square-foot clear-top frame tent on opposite ends of the museum to expand the venue to accommodate the event's 1,250 guests. Stanlee R. Gatti Designs custom-designed an artistic tent liner featuring 2,000 yards of boldly colored striped fabric that Classic silk-screened, sewed and installed in the clear-span Patron's Tent, while the San Francisco skyline visible through the clear-top frame tent created a dramatic “mural.”

REGAL TENT PRODUCTIONS, STONEY CREEK, ONTARIO

Regal Tent Productions installed a custom-built clear-span tent in the heart of New York's Central Park to serve as a venue for a fashion show by clothing retailer H&M. A custom awning connected three smaller entrance tents to the 132-by-132-foot main tent, which featured 26-foot-high tent sides and legs to allow for tiered seating so all 1,200 guests in attendance had a clear view of the show. The tent's clear roof panels allowed the park's trees to be seen above, enhancing the show's “Secret Garden” theme.

TOP PRODUCTIONS, RICHMOND, CALIF.

In six weeks, Top Productions installed a custom-designed, custom-manufactured semi-permanent tent structure to expand the San Jose [Calif.] Convention Center in time for EBay's national user conference. Parts of the 680-foot-long, 132-foot-wide, 53-foot-tall insulated tent were manufactured in Poland and Belgium; after the tent arrived in San Jose in 12 40-foot-long cargo containers, a 120-ton crane was needed to raise the center arches of the frame. The tent's blue-and-white pattern required a detailed construction plan and piece-by-piece installation to create the correct design.

Best Use of Lighting

ACTIVE PRODUCTION & DESIGN, ATLANTA

Active Production & Design created a futuristic set that showcased the company's lighting and special effects at a 10,000-attendee, multi-day youth conference. For the main stage, Active created a custom projection screen using a Catalyst DL1 fixture with a circular truss and fitted spandex, while 40 intelligent lighting fixtures lit up the stage; a digital video lighting projector created a customized, high-energy light show that highlighted the event's speakers and entertainment.

INFINITE DESIGNS, ATLANTA

For a company's holiday party, Infinite Designs created lighting effects that gave the appearance of an outdoor celebration on the streets of New York. Around the perimeter of the exhibition hall venue, intelligent lighting fixtures turned from the amber and red of sunset to the pink and lavender of twilight over the course of the evening. Cobblestone patterns projected onto the floor suggested an outdoor plaza setting, while swirling snowflake gobos and cloud patterns on the ceiling created a winter sky effect.

MEGAVISION ARTS, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

At a party to celebrate the 100th episode of the popular television show “CSI: Las Vegas,” Megavision Arts projected brightly colored “vintage Vegas” images — such as kitschy matchbook covers, cartoon images of '50s burlesque dancers, neon signs of classic casinos and vintage poker chips — onto the walls of the airplane hangar venue. Nine scenic projectors were used to cast bold images onto the hangar's walls, which measured 350 feet long by 30 feet high; three of the projectors scrolled, revealing new images every few minutes and adding movement to the scene.

Best Achievement in Technical Support

ASI PRODUCTION SERVICES, ORLANDO, FLA.

For the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in Miami, ASI Production Services installed elements including 1,500 feet of drape, 5,000 feet of white carpet, and 52-foot-long ramps with a 5-foot incline that were used as runways for a “car fashion show.” A 460-by-30-foot tent that supported a 22-degree curve provided an area for photographers to take pictures of entertainers as they entered the American Airlines Arena; inside, 800 feet of black velvet drape created rooms for the talent, while 750 feet of 40-foot-tall black commando cloth sectioned off arena seating in the auditorium.

BRITE IDEAS, FOOTHILL RANCH, CALIF.

For the high-profile Louis Vuitton United Cancer Front Gala, Brite Ideas created a custom infrastructure inside an empty sound stage for elements including lighting, audio, rigging and engineering. A custom-designed light curtain measuring 45 feet tall and 65 feet wide — designed using 700,000 small lights on 7,000 strings — was branded with the initials LV. To create the illuminated floor, a custom substructure was wired with 750 intelligent lighting fixtures mounted in a grid pattern using two miles of cable. Other production elements included five elaborate motorized chandeliers and a surprise stage reveal.

KOHLER EVENT SERVICES, ORLANDO, FLA.

Kohler Event Services coordinated the installation of tenting, power and stages for a three-day, 85,000-attendee music festival held on 700 acres of privately owned land in Tennessee. Providing power to the bare site required 70 diesel generators exceeding more than 6.4 megawatts of power, 24 miles of cabling, more than 250 distribution panels and 35 portable air-conditioning units to air-condition multiple tents, including the movie theater and medical facilities. Kohler used 57 40-foot-long trucks to bring in the generators, HVAC units, cabling and distribution boxes.

Best Achievement in Logistics

AMCI, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.

A 12-city roadshow with a “Put it in Play” theme let more than 10,000 young consumers discover the Toyota brand through a series of high-energy, entertaining events. Over a six-week period, 24 staff members, two 53-foot semi trucks and 16 Toyota vehicles on two car carriers traveled across 11 states for the marketing event, which targeted 18-to-34-year-old consumers with fun activities such as “Vehicular Dodgeball” and “Capture the Checkered Flag” that were played behind the wheel of Toyota vehicles to showcase their speed, handling and agility.

EVENT ARCHITECTS, CHICAGO

With only nine weeks' lead time, Event Architects coordinated Absolut Vodka's “One Source Summit,” a two-day retreat held at a private mansion in Miami. The home's furniture was removed to provide space for the event, while each room of the house was decorated in colors representing Absolut's flavored vodkas. Twenty-seven media partners — including Details, Vibe and Real Simple magazines — took part in the event, which offered attendees 54 classes and activities such as golf-swing analysis and kayaking. The home's guest house was transformed into a spa where guests could take yoga classes or get manicures and massages.

WALTONA MANION & ASSOCIATES, VAN NUYS, CALIF./IT'S NO PROBLEM, BURBANK, CALIF.

The two-day grand opening celebration of the $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa showcased the new property to 2,500 guests each night. A staff of more than 1,000 was on hand for each evening's festivities, which were held in a 55,275-square-foot clear-span tent custom-built for the celebration. Comedian Jay Leno hosted the first night's celebration, which featured a performance by Carlos Santana and a red, gold and orange decor scheme in the tent; on the second night, the tent was transformed into a sleek white and blue lounge for Destiny's Child to entertain the guests.

WELCOME EVENT MARKETING, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

The “TDCity” corporate event welcomed 11,000 employees of the TDC Group, a Copenhagen-based telecommunications company that wanted to bring together staff from its 18 divisions across Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Welcome Event Marketing created a Web site to provide guests with information in addition to coordinating guest travel arrangements to the Copenhagen event site. Inside the enormous exhibition hall venue, guests could visit themed areas, including the New York-inspired TDCity Square filled with cafe vignettes, the cool Future Lounge, and the Music Arena, where popular Danish bands performed.

Best Achievement in Event Rental Support

AUSTIN PARTY CENTRAL, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Austin Party Central worked with Austin city staff to create the grand opening gala for Austin City Hall, which was under construction during the event planning process. Due to last-minute work on the building, APC couldn't begin setup on the first floor until the afternoon of the event; in addition, the company had to install tables, chairs and food stations on each level of the three-story building without access to the elevators, which were out of service at the time. When setup was completed, different decor and cuisine on each floor enticed the 400 VIP guests to explore the new building.

ASI PRODUCTION SERVICES, ORLANDO, FLA.

For the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in Miami, ASI Production Services gave the event South Beach style by installing elements including 1,500 feet of drape, 5,000 feet of white carpet, and 52-foot-long ramps with a 5-foot incline that were used as runways for a “car fashion show.” Due to the threat from Hurricane Katrina as it swept past Miami, the company had to strike 80 percent of the equipment it had loaded in over a seven-day period, then reinstall it in just two days after the storm passed.

DUCKY-BOB'S PARTY & TENT RENTALS, CARROLLTON, TEXAS

Ducky-Bob's installed 24 tents in a Dallas public park to create a Texas-sized venue for an elaborate 800-guest wedding. The seven-day installation included a 40-by-50-foot tent that served as the foyer and a 32-by-114-foot reception tent, a 100-by-180 foot main tent, and four 30-by-40-foot kitchen tents for the caterers. The company also installed tent flooring, which had to be built and then covered with turf to accommodate the city's Easter parade held in the park a few days before the wedding.

Best New, Innovative Event Product/Technology

JIM HENSON CREATURE SHOP, LOS ANGELES

Jim Henson's Creature Shop used its Henson Digital Performance System to animate a computer-generated character at an event designed to showcase the latest graphics card from computer company nVidia. The HSPS technology — a proprietary hardware and software system — allowed nVidia company icon Nalu the Mermaid to appear onscreen as a live, three-dimensional character giving a real-time performance. Nalu was brought to life by two puppeteers operating multi-input control devices that generated the mermaid's actions, allowing her to deliver a live keynote speech, then interact with attendees one-on-one.

MEGAVISION ARTS, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

For a bar mitzvah with an ocean liner theme, Megavision Arts designed the Porthole Projection System, which creates the illusion of being in the interior of a ship at sea. Six round portholes, constructed from steel and wood made to look like burnished brass, were hung from a truss rig along the venue's walls. Rear-projection material attached to the back of each porthole allowed scenes of other ocean liners sailing by and dolphins and whales frolicking in the water to be projected onto the 10-foot-diameter screens.

THOMASG, SONOMA, CALIF.

ThomasG's Screen Frames are fabric panel-covered flat or curved metal frames that can be used as an alternative to pipe and drape for creating temporary environments at events. The lightweight screens come in a variety of sizes and shapes; the fabric panels that cover the frame are in a variety of colors and materials. Each piece of the steel tubing framework is connected using pins from pipe and base systems that attach to a special plate. The versatile screens feature 10 points for attaching decor items such as artwork, mirrors, signage or lighting.

Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution: Budget Under $25,000

ENTERTAINMENT PLUS PRODUCTIONS, LOS ANGELES

Entertainment Plus Productions created a “Masquerade — A Black-and-White Masked Ball” themed performance for a corporate client's employee awards show. The lush production recalled the elegance of a Venetian ball, with eight Broadway-caliber dancers and singers wearing period costumes, wigs and masks in the opening performance. The three production numbers ranged from classic to contemporary, with musical performances that included a duet of the Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion tune “The Prayer” and “All I Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” as well as dance routines that incorporated ballet, jazz and hip-hop styles.

EVENTION SHOW PRODUCTIONS, TAMPA, FLA.

For a corporate dinner with a “Coming Home” theme, Evention Show Productions created a custom performance of “The Wizard of Oz” hosted by a green-costumed actor representing “The Great Oz.” Following each dinner course, a 30-second video set the scene for the next act of the show. Lyrics to famous songs such as “Greased Lightning” from the musical “Grease” were rewritten to incorporate both the “Oz” characters and references to the company's industry; during the final performance of “Ease on Down the Road,” guests joined the cast in a conga line that led into a dance party.

THE VENETIAN RESORT-HOTEL-CASINO, LAS VEGAS/BEST PRODUCTIONS, LAS VEGAS

Inspired by the movies “Vatel” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” the “Feast of the Doge” themed event showcased The Venetian's capabilities to 32 potential clients. As guests entered the ballroom, they were met by wait staff wearing wigs, red tunics and Venetian masks; the servers later presented each course in a choreographed performance. As guests sat down for dinner, three tableaux vivants surrounding the dining table came to life. The costumed actors climbed out of the portraits to sing for the guests before ascending back into the frames and freezing again, signaling the end of the evening.

Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution: Budget $25,000 to $100,000

BRAVO ENTERTAINMENT, DALLAS/FUSION ENTERTAINMENT, LOS ANGELES

The entertainment at the ISES Esprit Awards gala complemented the event's “Blanc et Noir — the New Hollywood Black & White” theme with unique musical arrangements, custom choreography, and black-and-white costumes. String Theory played its haunting versions of tunes ranging from Bach to Pink Floyd during the cocktail reception; for the awards ceremony and dinner, performers sang songs that honored the award nominees and the Los Angeles location. The use of the new Pioneer DVD mixing system allowed the VJ to mix video images the way DJs mix audio, creating a constantly changing backdrop for the dance floor.

ENTERTAINMENT PLUS PRODUCTIONS, LOS ANGELES

The Texas setting was the inspiration for the country-western entertainment produced for a RadioShack awards conference held at the Gaylord Texan Resort. A high-energy show that included updated square dance routines by dancers wearing sexy cowgirl attire and musical performances of contemporary county songs with lyrics customized for the event livened up the early-morning session. The evening's “black-tie rodeo” themed awards ceremony included music-video style choreography and a performance of “I Feel Like a Winner,” a revamped version of the Shania Twain hit “I Feel Like a Woman.”

SENSIX COMMUNICATIONS AND EVENTS, MONTREAL/LES PRODUCTIONS BELLUSCIOUS, MONTREAL

Entertainment at the welcome dinner for the FINA World Aquatics Championships showcased Montreal while immersing guests in the “Feel the Wave of Emotion” theme. To honor the city's reputation as a cabaret capital, a fashion show featured dancers performing cabaret routines while modeling the clothing of a Montreal-based designer. For the event's “Bathing Beauties” finale, dancers wearing 1920s-style bathing suits and holding umbrellas came onstage through a water screen to perform a choreographed dance; images of raining umbrellas and flying dancers projected onto the water screen created a whimsical backdrop for the routine.

Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution: Budget Above $100,000

SENSIX COMMUNICATIONS AND EVENTS, MONTREAL

Sensix Communications and Events produced a “Canadian Colors” themed show that combined video images and live performances for the FDI World Dental Congress opening ceremony. The show's 86 performers took the 4,000-attendee audience on a coast-to-coast tour of Canadian culture and heritage, including a First Nations hoop dancer moving to the beat of drums, cirque acrobats “climbing” the Rocky Mountains, a rhythmic routine with hockey sticks performed by dancers wearing hockey uniforms, and a performance of Canadian singer Celine Dion's “Love Can Move Mountains” by the 30-member Montreal People's Gospel Choir.

T. SKORMAN PRODUCTIONS, ORLANDO, FLA./HELLO FLORIDA, ORLANDO, FLA.

A “Passport to the World's Best” themed incentive event held at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando [Fla.] showcased a range of entertainment to a data management company's top employees. The first night's “Puttin' on the Ritz” event re-created the elegant white-linen lawn parties of the 1920s, with performances by a 10-piece band and dancers wearing period costumes. The second evening's “Two Tickets to Paradise” party featured a band playing Jimmy Buffet songs and routines by limbo dancers and stilt-walkers. The final-night gala went “On Broadway” with performances of popular tunes from musicals such as “Evita,” “Mamma Mia” and “Cats.”

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, INVERNESS, ILL.

Total Event Resources developed a “Crunch Time” theme to rev up attendees at the International Truck and Engine Corp.'s Parts and Service Expo in Las Vegas. The three-day event, inspired by reality TV shows “American Chopper” and “Monster Garage,” featured emcees modeled after the father-son team on “American Chopper,” performances by a garage rock band and an appearance by comedian Howie Mandel. During the closing session, a custom-built company truck fitted with a jet engine was driven onto the show floor, where 1,800 attendees watched a video of the “I-Team” truck burn a competitor's truck to the ground.

Most Outstanding Spectacle

JHE PRODUCTION GROUP, CONCORD, N.C.

The NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge introduced more than 5,000 racing fans in attendance and a television audience of millions to the behind-the-scenes action of NASCAR pit crews. Following the construction of a 1:24 scale model of the venue and three months of test runs in a 40,000-square-foot facility, JHE moved the action inside the Charlotte [N.C.] Coliseum on event day. There, 24 of the top NASCAR pit crew teams — each with seven members — raced against each other in competitions that focused on the skills of individual crew members as well as overall team effort.

WELCOME EVENT MARKETING, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

The “TDCity” corporate event welcomed 11,000 employees of the TDC Group, a Copenhagen-based telecommunications company that wanted to bring together staff from its 18 divisions across Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The nine-hour celebration took place at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, an enormous exhibition hall venue where guests could visit themed areas including the New York-inspired TDCity Square filled with cafe vignettes, the TDCinema, the cool Future Lounge filled with futuristic gadgets and entertainment, and the Music Arena, where popular Danish bands performed.

EXPERIENTIAL EVENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA/ENCANA EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS, CALGARY, ALBERTA

An oil and natural gas company's employee appreciation event with the theme “One” brought together 9,300 employees for simultaneous celebrations in 32 cities throughout North America. In Calgary, the company's headquarters, 5,300 guests entered a 70,000-square-foot tent erected on a military base, where they found a chic nightclub environment with intimate seating areas and dozens of food stations. Canadian favorites The Guess Who performed at the Calgary celebration; afterward, a show by the Barenaked Ladies was broadcast live via satellite from the Denver party.

Best Event Produced For a Private Individual: Budget Under $500 Per Guest

A JOY WALLACE CATERING PRODUCTION & DESIGN TEAM, MIAMI

A first communion celebration for a 13-year-old girl at the historic Villa Vizcaya in Miami created an inviting setting for a client who wanted the venue to feel like home. Food stations highlighted the girl's Italian and Colombian heritage with dishes such as grilled beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce and a pasta station serving pink vodka, pomodoro and white clam sauces with a variety of toppings. A flamenco guitarist entertained guests during the reception, while a drink station topped with white parasols and pink roses added girlish charm to the decor.

GRAND EVENTS, CHATSWORTH, CALIF.

Grand Events created a cruise ship-themed 50th wedding anniversary celebration for a fun-loving couple who own a travel agency. The venue, an empty store in a shopping mall, took guests on an around-the-world trip thanks to backdrops painted with international landmarks such as Mount Rushmore and the Sphinx; each table represented a different port of call and featured a globe centerpiece. During the party, small groups of guests were transported to the mall's Toys “R” Us store where they could buy toys to donate to the Toys for Tots program, which the couple asked for in lieu of gifts.

TIMOT MCGONAGLE, NASHVILLE, TENN.

Timot McGonagle created a sleek red-and-silver decor scheme for a combination birthday-anniversary celebration with a “Dancing Through the Decades” theme. Two hundred and fifty red luminaires lined the drive leading up to the country club venue; inside, dramatic red velvet and voile drapery framed the entryway and dance floor, while red satin and spandex covered the cocktail tables and chairs. A silver-and-red five-tier cake rested on a silver pedestal surrounded by red glass spheres, adding an eye-catching focal point to the party.

Best Event Produced For a Private Individual: Budget $500 and Above Per Guest

CHARLES BANFIELD PRODUCTIONS, LOS ANGELES

A 500-guest 60th birthday party with a “Clearly Michele” theme featured design elements that highlighted the guest of honor's interests and achievements. The seven-hour, three-part party featured a garden cocktail reception with tables dressed in all-white and clear crystal that celebrated the guest of honor's famed jewelry collection and a dinner of her favorite dishes catered by Gai Klass for Wolfgang Puck. A cocktail space designed to resemble the Queen of Heart's palace highlighted the birthday girl's long-running role as the Queen in a children's theater performance of “Alice in Wonderland.”

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

A mehndi party held the day before an elaborate Indian wedding brought together friends and family for a traditional celebration. Guests sat at tables covered in brightly colored dupioni silk for a feast that included exotic desserts flown in from India. To create an Indian summer fair ambiance, a snake charmer, fortune-teller and Middle Eastern dance troupe kept the crowd amused, while mehndi painters adorned the hands of female guests with henna designs. In the Indian tradition, groups of family and friends performed to honor the wedding couple; a show by a famous Bollywood singer completed the evening's entertainment.

TIMOT MCGONAGLE, NASHVILLE, TENN.

At a client's annual Christmas party, eight Christmas trees — each decorated in a different style — and more than 30 holiday vignettes created a unique look in each room of the private residence. Crimson velvet and voile lined the perimeter of a tent set up on the home's terrace, while a 15-foot-tall tree was flocked and airbrushed crimson to match, then covered in more than 2,000 ornaments, 500 yards of ribbon and 700 yards of beaded garland, all in shades of red. The use of faux snow and a fog machine in the backyard created a winter wonderland effect.

Best Event Marketing Campaign

SHREVEPORT REGIONAL ARTS COUNCIL, SHREVEPORT, LA.

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council celebrated the 100-year anniversary of author J.M. Barrie's character Peter Pan through a campaign that included a gala opening weekend with activities such as an exhibition of Peter Pan-related memorabilia, a Peter Pan birthday party for 400 children, and the U.S. premiere of the film “Finding Neverland,” attended by David Magee, the film's screenwriter. The four-month campaign culminated with “Christmas in the Sky: Pandemonium,” a 2,000-guest gala that raised more than $750,000 for the council.

WALTONA MANION & ASSOCIATES, VAN NUYS, CALIF.

Waltona Manion & Associates worked with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to launch the tribe's $250 million, 44-acre Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa. The marketing campaign included a week-long media junket that produced more than 400 television news stories in addition to mentions in national print publications. A two-day grand opening celebration showcased the new property to 2,500 VIP guests each evening. A staff of more than 1,000 was on hand for the festivities, which were held in a 55,275-square-foot clear-span tent custom-built for the event.

VOK DAMS GRUPPE, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

A series of events in Barcelona, Spain, introduced the new Puma Red for Women and Puma White for Men fragrances to a group of 80 international lifestyle journalists. A “scent tour” of the city showcased ingredients used in the fragrances, such as a visit to one of the city's oldest liquor stores where guests sampled Limoncello liqueur that highlighted the fragrances' lemon notes. A red-and-white launch event at Barcelona's new Puma store featured a choreographed performance where “boy met girl” thanks to the fragrances and concluded with a dramatic reveal of the new bottles.

Best Theatrical Entertainment Production

BARKLEY KALPAK ASSOCIATES, NEW YORK

Barkley Kalpak Associates produced the first-ever full-length Broadway musical in Macau with its production of “Chicago” for the Macau International Music Festival. The distinctive show used the musical's original script, but changed elements such as costumes, lighting and staging to make it more accessible to the festival's international audience. After the completion of pre-production elements including set design, choreography and rehearsals in New York, a cast of 18 Broadway performers and 19 musicians traveled to Macau to perform at the event.

E=MC2 EVENT MANAGEMENT, CALGARY, ALBERTA

For Calgary Cares 2005, an AIDS awareness fund-raising gala, E=MC2 produced an entertaining fashion and dance production based on the theme “Pillow Talk.” A “Dream Maker” character hosted the show, which featured bedroom-themed numbers such as “Slumber Party,” “Nightmares” and “Fantasy World” designed to transport viewers to a place where they could explore their dreams. More than 800 guests watched the production — which featured 100 dancers and 75 behind-the-scenes volunteers — on soft lounge furniture such as beds, oversized ottomans and couches surrounding the stage.

IMAGINATION ENTERTAINMENT, SAN DIEGO

For a celebration of the San Diego's downtown renaissance, Imagination Entertainment created a high-energy production that took viewers on a tour of the four distinctive neighborhoods of the city's downtown area. The fast-paced show, held in a ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, included an opera performance and a Venetian costume parade in Little Italy, salsa dancing in the Gaslamp District, aerialists in the Marina, and a hip-hop dance and drumming troupe in the East Village. A short video clip that set the scene for each new segment tied the show together.

Best Theme Decor: Total Decor Budget Under $20,000

AN ORIGINAL OCCASION, LOS ANGELES

For the launch of the television documentary “The Deep Jungle,” An Original Occasion researched tropical habitats to transform a hotel ballroom into a lush rainforest. On the stage, a custom-painted 40-foot-long jungle backdrop set the scene; boulders, wooden logs, vines and 18-foot-tall swamp tree stumps covered in moss stood in front of the mural to add realism. Wooden log chairs provided seating for the scientists presenting their findings at the event, while guests sat at tables dressed in hunter green linen and topped with centerpieces made from natural jungle fauna.

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, ST. LOUIS

The decor at a bat mitzvah with a “Peace, Love and Happiness” theme took guests on a trip back to the groovy 1960s. A 17-foot wall in the style of artist Peter Max accented with Andy Warhol-inspired images of the guest of honor stood at the entrance to the ballroom. Low cocktail tables surrounded by beanbag chairs filled the “Love-in Lounge,” while brightly colored lounge furniture packed the “Flower Power” area. Tie-dyed napkins and chair sashes added flair to dining tables, which featured centerpieces of miniature go-go dancing cages topped by a go-go boot filled with an oversize flower.

MEGAVISION ARTS, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

At a party to celebrate the 100th episode of the popular television show “CSI: Las Vegas,” Megavision Arts decorated the walls of the airplane hangar venue with projections of brightly colored “vintage Vegas” images such as kitschy matchbook covers, cartoon images of '50s burlesque dancers, neon signs of classic casinos and vintage poker chips. Nine scenic projectors were used to cast bold images onto the hangar's walls, which measured 350 feet long by 30 feet high; three of the projectors scrolled, revealing new images every few minutes and adding movement to the scene.

Best Theme Decor: Total Decor Budget $20,000 to $50,000

BRAVO PRODUCTIONS, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

For a “Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales” themed event with 650 Chinese-speaking guests, Bravo Productions designed decor that wove together elements from five classic children's tales. Props included 8-foot-tall books, 10-foot-tall castle facades and a backdrop depicting characters from “Alice in Wonderland”; decor pieces such as oversize butterflies and mushrooms were relevant both to fairy tales and Asian culture. A fanciful garden display of clever flower interpretations, such as “Dandy Lions” and “Tiger Lilies,” featured animal heads made from natural materials including dried flowers and grass.

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

The Baja Peninsula setting was the inspiration for the decor at a pharmaceutical company's awards dinner with the theme “The Migration of the Whales.” The walls and ceiling of the ballroom were wrapped in a sea of blue drapery set against a painted mural of whales and dolphins; lighting projections of rippling waves helped create an underwater effect. Guests dined at tables covered in aqua and turquoise linen; on each table, a centerpiece created from a tall vase filled with white calla lilies submerged in water, surrounded by clusters of hydrangea, coral and seashells, produced a subtle reef effect.

MAGIC MOMENTS CATERING & SPECIAL EVENTS, NORCROSS, GA.

Magic Moments produced a formal “N the Black” themed celebration for the 25th anniversary of an accounting firm. The “N the Red” cocktail reception area fêted the early days of the company with all-red lighting and decor. Black-and-white decor with silver accents branded the dining room, while centerpieces featured green candles that showed guests the color of money. A prop of a bank vault door served as the entrance to the dessert buffet area, which featured dollar sign gobos on the walls and a tiered cake topped with a fondant moneybag overflowing with silver coins.

Best Theme Decor: Total Decor Budget Above $50,000

EVENTLABS, HAMBURG, GERMANY

Eventlabs oversaw the design concept for a unique hotel, studio and nightclub/restaurant in Copenhagen created for the three-week launch event of the new Volkswagen Fox. A group of young artists, designers and architects converted a rundown Copenhagen hotel into Hotel Fox; each of the 61 hotel rooms featured a unique, modern design. The hotel's decor, as well as that of the restaurant and studio that were also part of Project Fox, was designed to appeal to the young professionals who make up the car's target market.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

An “Asian Aloha” themed awards gala at a bank's incentive event in Hawaii blended Asian and Hawaiian elements into the decor, such as 16-foot-tall Japanese kimonos painted with Hawaiian flora; each kimono opened down the middle during dinner to reveal a geisha performer. The stage featured a custom mural of an oversize Asian paper fan painted with tropical flowers including protea and cymbidium orchids. Dozens of paper umbrellas in varying sizes and colors suspended above the dance floor were hit with lighting effects that made the umbrellas change colors during the event.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

A bank incentive event's final-night “Totally '80s” party flashed back to the decade of excess with neon colors, 16-foot-tall wall collages of '80s icons including Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and an appearance by basketball legend Magic Johnson. Tables were dressed in vivid neon spandex in hot pink, day-glo yellow, electric blue and lime green hues, while chair backs featured famous faces from the era such as Bill Cosby and Don Johnson. Screens showing music videos from the decade, dancers wearing '80s fashions and “human lava lamps” highlighted by black lights completed the design.

Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget Under $100,000

MAGIC MOMENTS CATERING & SPECIAL EVENTS, NORCROSS, GA.

Magic Moments produced a formal “N the Black” themed celebration for the 25th anniversary of an accounting firm held at a natural history museum. The “N the Red” cocktail reception area fêted the early days of the company with all-red lighting and decor. Black-and-white decor with silver accents branded the dining room, while centerpieces features green candles that showed guests the color of money. A prop of a bank vault door served as the entrance to the dessert buffet, which included a tiered cake topped with a fondant moneybag overflowing with silver coins.

THE VENETIAN RESORT-HOTEL-CASINO, LAS VEGAS

Inspired by the movies “Vatel” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” the “Feast of the Doge” themed event showcased The Venetian's event and banqueting capabilities to 32 potential clients. As guests entered the ballroom they were met by wait staff wearing wigs, red tunics and Venetian masks; the servers later presented a five-course menu that included a stunning Venetian tile mosaic dessert. An X-shaped dining table held dramatic piece montée creations such as a chocolate Venetian mask, chocolate columns and a pulled-sugar lion. Three tableaux vivants surrounding the table came to life and performed during the meal.

TRIBBLE CREATIVE GROUP, CHARLOTTE, N.C.

A parking structure became a chic New York nightclub for a furniture design firm's 16th anniversary celebration and announcement of a new company name. A color created for the company's latest collection was used for all the decor elements in the “Studio Sweet Sixteen” themed event's VIP lounge. Stations included a “rainbow martini bar” that offered martinis in six vibrant shades, a doughnut station and a chocolate fondue fountain; performers such as go-go dancers and a “human guest book” — a man wearing a white spandex bodysuit that guests could sign with markers — kept attendees entertained.

Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget $100,000 to $249,999

EVENT ARCHITECTS, CHICAGO

For the launch of Absolut Vodka's Apeach flavor, Event Architects created an “Absolut Rocks” themed event at Chicago's Union Station to introduce 2,000 guests to the new vodka flavor. The “rock show with a twist” featured a two-level, 24-foot-tall martini bar covered in peach-colored fabric that served four cocktail varieties from eight ice luges; guests could also work with an Absolut mixologist to create new peach vodka-flavored drinks. Fire-breathers, stilt-walkers and models dressed as peach trees wandered through the crowd; a surprise performance by rock band They Might Be Giants capped off the entertainment.

RICK HERNS PRODUCTIONS, REDWOOD CITY, CALIF.

Rick Herns Productions created an ancient underwater world for a 1,300-guest Microsoft party for its Xbox, DirectX and XNA gaming divisions. Stone blocks and building ruins branded with each division's name created a submerged city, while 20-foot-long strands of seaweed and soft jellyfish sculptures suspended from the venue's ceiling added to the underwater effect. For entertainment, an artist created a reef scene in the “Coral Cave” area using chalk that glowed when hit with ultraviolet light, dancers dressed as angelfish and a beat-box artist performed, and models in glowing sea nymph costumes wandered through the party.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

For a mortgage company awards dinner, Extraordinary Events designed a program that celebrated the recipients and their accomplishments in larger-than-life style. A custom mural featuring 20-foot tall, floor-to-ceiling photographs of the award winners circled the perimeter of the venue, reinforcing the company's message that its people are its greatest asset. “Man on the street” videos asking passersby their opinions about the company, photo sessions of winners in front of the mural and custom song parodies about the company's culture helped brand the event for attendees.

Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget $250,000 to $500,000

A LEGENDARY EVENT, ATLANTA

A Legendary Event produced two simultaneous parties at different venues in Atlanta for a Microsoft sales conference. The “Yellow Jersey” VIP party, an intimate lounge event for 400 top sales achievers, featured a vivid yellow decor scheme that extended to the food and drinks, including an all-yellow candy station. Across the street, the high-energy “Hotlanta” themed event for 1,500 guests featured rainbow-colored linen and lighting, as well as performances by a stomp-style musical group playing trash cans and plastic buckets, a jazz band and the 50-member Voice of Atlanta Choir.

TIMOT MCGONAGLE, NASHVILLE, TENN.

The ISES Esprit Awards featured dramatic black-and-white decor that complemented the event's “Blanc et Noir — the New Hollywood Black & White” theme. Pucci-print linen and striped napkins added drama to tables, as did centerpieces of white carnations studded with black carnation accents. Silver leather banquettes and an 18-foot-long white serpentine sofa gave Hollywood style to an after-dinner lounge. String Theory played its haunting versions of tunes ranging from Bach to Pink Floyd during the cocktail reception; for the awards ceremony and dinner, performers sang songs that honored the award nominees and the Los Angeles location.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF./DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

A bank incentive event's final-night “Totally '80s” party flashed back to the decade of excess with neon colors, 16-foot-tall wall collages of '80s icons including Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and a “primp station” that allowed guests to accessorize with colored hairspray, fake eyelashes, lace gloves and skinny ties. Tables were dressed in vivid neon spandex, while chair backs featured famous faces from the era such as Bill Cosby and Don Johnson. An '80s cover band, dancers wearing '80s fashions and “human lava lamps” highlighted by black lights kept guest entertained.

Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget Above $500,000

EUROEVENTS LTD., DUBLIN, IRELAND

On four evenings, EuroEvents created a dramatic reveal for the launch of the new BMW 3 Series in Ireland. A section of Dublin's River Liffey was drained so a Panorama tent structure could be set up on a platform; the river was then refilled so the tent appeared to float. On each event night, an aerialist suspended from a giant helium-filled balloon greeted guests as they entered the venue. For the reveal, a BMW car drove along a track set just below the surface of the water before climbing a ramp into the Panorama tent, creating the illusion that the car could drive on water.

EVENTLABS, HAMBURG, GERMANY

Eventlabs oversaw the design concept for a unique hotel, studio and nightclub/restaurant in Copenhagen created to accommodate 740 journalists over a three-week period for the launch event of the new Volkswagen Fox. A group of young artists, designers and architects converted a dilapidated Copenhagen hotel into Hotel Fox; each of the 61 hotel rooms featured a unique, modern design. The hotel's decor, as well as that of the Volkswagen-branded restaurant and studio that were also part of Project Fox, was designed to appeal to the young professionals who make up the car's target market.

EXPERIENTIAL EVENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA/ENCANA EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS, CALGARY, ALBERTA

An oil and natural gas company's employee appreciation event with the theme “One” brought together 9,300 employees for simultaneous celebrations in 32 cities throughout North America. In Calgary, the company's headquarters, 5,300 guests entered a 70,000-square-foot tent erected on a military base, where they found a chic nightclub environment with hip seating areas and dozens of food stations. Canadian favorites The Guess Who performed at the Calgary celebration; afterward, a show by the Barenaked Ladies was broadcast live via satellite from the Denver party.

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