Special Events
Gala Award Nominees Announced for 2009

Gala Award Nominees Announced for 2009

Get ready to be impressed. Here you'll find the best work in 35 event categories as determined by members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board. Enjoy a preview of the nominees here, and then join us to honor the winners on Jan. 30 at The Special Event 2009 in San Diego. — The Editors

BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL

EVENTPROS, KANSAS CITY, MO.

The Kansas City community came together during Independence Day at “KC RiverFest,” a massive picnic and festival held at the riverfront by Friends of the River, a group dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the area. The event included water stunt performers using a specially built tank and one of the largest fireworks displays in the region. The event attracted 35,000 people.

JHE PRODUCTION GROUP, HARRISBURG, N.C.

The three-day “Food Lion Speed Street” is held in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The fair, a popular event for locals and racing enthusiasts for the past 13 years, attracted 400,000 attendees in 2008. The JHE team enacted a new logistical approach to disperse the crowd in different directions while minimizing the effect on traffic in the uptown Charlotte, N.C., area.

THE LUNDQUIST CO., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

More than 5,000 participants enjoyed the “First 5 Sacramento Children's Celebration,” a free outdoor family event that included 49 educational programs. “Fairy Tale Town” brought to life Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest along with other book-related favorites, while “Tooth Fairy Lane” provided 450 children with their first dental checkup. The event entertained 4.6 percent more guests than anticipated but still came in 9 percent under budget.

BEST INVITATION

ASE GROUP, OVERLAND PARK, KAN.

For a bar mitzvah with the theme “connectivity,” ASE Group went for an interactive invitation. The celebration, dubbed “Ben-Mitzvah” for the honoree, featured an “iBen” invitation, which mimicked the look of an iPod. When invitees pressed the oversized “play” button, Ben invited them to his Ben-Mitzvah via a sound chip imbedded in the invitation.

BK DESIGN, BOSTON

A 1940s dinner club set the scene for “60: The New 40.” Prior to the bash, BK Design gave partygoers a taste of what was to come with an invitation that included a miniature chrome-topped, logo'd martini shaker, a coaster and a list of “Gordon's Tipsy Tips.” The retro graphics featured a “60” in a martini glass with an olive as the “0.”

HANNAH HANDMADE, EVANSTON, ILL.

“Driehaus 66” was the theme for an annual summer party that fell on the eve of the host's 66th birthday. An oversized postcard featuring a vintage-style map served as a save-the-date, while the official invitation included a 1966 model Corvette, a replica of a 1966 Corvette's keys and a Blood, Sweat & Tears CD. The invitations laid the groundwork for a party that included a venue transformed into historic stops along Route 66 and a performance by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

Designs by Sean went for fresh floral charm for a wedding with the theme “Love Across the Ocean.” Elegantly draped in ivory, the scene featured floral creations with pink and white roses tucked into the tables' sunken square centers, which were covered with clear Lucite for a level tabletop. On top of that, upside-down, oversized champagne glasses served as platforms for Anna roses, white hydrangea, calla lilies, willow sprigs and green liriope, accented with dangling Swarovski crystal pendants and strands of pearl beads.

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGN, ROCKVILLE, MD.

For a Juicy Couture theme bat mitzvah dubbed “Couture Yourself,” Janet Flowers Wedding and Event Design mixed fashion with floral to create fabulous centerpieces. Wrought-iron mannequins perched at the center of the tables were adorned with such creations as skirts consisting of layers of loose carnation petals or corseted tops made with brightly colored button mums. The fashionable centerpieces sported accessories too, such as rhinestones, silver charms, and pink and white strands of pearls.

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGN, ROCKVILLE, MD.

Fall provided the inspiration for the October “Le Charme Automne” wedding reception. Chocolate brown and blue linen covered tables accented by deep orange napkins and stemware with hints of orange. Flowers were rustic yet refined with roses, dahlias, yarrow and coxcomb in such hues as orange, coral and scarlet. Some table centerpieces included 15-foot-tall live trees while others featured wrought-iron trees decorated with grapevines and hanging votive candles.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

GOURMET FINE CATERING, DENVER

In keeping with the European motorcycle shop venue, the “Legendary V Club” featured European nightclub decor as well as active food stations and specialty drinks from Italy, Germany and France. Newcastle Brown Ale and the traditional English “bubble and squeak” dish of potato cakes represented England; an energy drink plus vodka cocktail served with Riesling-glazed baby Brussels sprouts gave a nod to Germany; and the Italian section included Prosecco and tempura-battered asparagus wrapped in pancetta and sauteed on-site.

SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN, TARZANA, CALIF.

At a minimum of $10,000 a pop per couple, the cirque-themed “Bash in Bel Air” had high expectations to live up to. Since shellfish could not be served to the kosher-keeping supporters of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, seafood such as halibut cheeks with fennel and cracked green olives took its place in an entree duo alongside sliced filet of beef roulades with summer mushroom stuffing. Petit nondairy chocolate chip ice cream sundaes topped off the menu.

SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN, TARZANA, CALIF.

Someone's in the Kitchen created three events for the “Farber Trifecta” bar mitzvah with a Harry-Potter-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons style. The honoree dictated the menu, which included an “Ancient Marketplace Falafel Bar” and “The Groaning Board Buffet” complete with whole Cornish game hens. Hand-carved crudites and pewter tableware provided accents to menus adhering to Jewish dietary laws.

BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL BANQUET DEPARTMENT

HARITH PRODUCTIONS, WILLOW GROVE, PA., AND COPACABANA PALACE, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

The catering team immersed guests in Brazilian culture during a “Spirit of Rio” event that combined dishes from different regions of Brazil with artistic presentation. For example, the spicy sea bass dish from the Pampas region was served in a half coconut atop a nest of thread-like leeks, while dessert featured a chocolate rendition of Brazil's Sugarloaf Mountain. The team purchased much of the products locally in order to reduce the event's carbon footprint.

VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL CASINO, LAS VEGAS, AND LTEVENTIONS, LAS VEGAS

To celebrate the grand opening of the stage show “Jersey Boys,” the Venetian created a menu of 1950s throwbacks with modern twists. A slider bar featured such variations as Kobe beef and lobster, King and smoked salmon, and marinated chicken with tapenade served with rock salt and truffle chips. A milkshake action station and 1950s penny candy stationcompleted the retro feel of the event.

WALT DISNEY WORLD SWAN AND DOLPHIN HOTEL, LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA.

“The Ultimate Chef's Table” featured wine pairings with carefully crafted dishes to create a decadent banquet dining experience. A dish of blue crab, heirloom melon, tomato water, vanilla and mint started off the menu, followed by a decidedly upscale version of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches made with Gruyere and brioche. A dessert trio that included apple “lasagna” with hard cider gelee and caramel pudding capped off the evening courtesy of award-winning pastry chef Laurent Branlard.

BEST FUNDRAISING EVENT

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

“The Daffodil Ball” went dashing, debonair and just a bit dangerous with a James Bond theme for 680 guests. Decor highlights included a laser “security system,” a gold-painted beauty on a rotating circular bed, Bond-worthy gadgets and a helicopter, not to mention 30,000 daffodils. The event netted a record-breaking $2.3 million for the Canadian Cancer Society.

CATALINA ISLAND CONSERVANCY, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

The cause served as theme at the “13th Annual Conservancy Ball: Earth, Wind and Fire.” In recognition of the major fire that hit the island in May 2007, the event featured centerpieces that included burned branches surrounded by live native plants to symbolize regrowth. To avoid live flames, the conservancy used LED candles instead of candles with wicks. The event netted more than $378,000.

TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT, CARLSTADT, N.J.

“A Marketplace for Peace” raised $750,000 for the Seeds of Peace Organization — $100,000 more than the goal — while spending $45,000 less than the budget of $375,000. The Middle Eastern marketplace decor included theme-appropriate tents, seating and food. More than 800 guests enjoyed the event.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

E=MC2 EVENT MANAGEMENT, CALGARY, ALBERTA

The “David Foster Foundation Gala” treated 1,000 guests to an event that raised awareness of the David Foster Foundation, which provides financial and emotional assistance to families with children needing organ transplants. The event included an Oscar-style red carpet, a “Star Search”-style event and celebrity entertainment, including singer Lionel Richie. The event raised $3 million.

METHOD 42 PRODUCTIONS, SAN JOSE, CALIF., AND CASA REAL AT RUBY HILL WINERY, PLEASANTON, CALIF.

The Mediterranean Riviera served as the theme for the “Viva La Mediterranean” fundraiser for the Eden Medical Center Foundation. Guests enjoyed Italian cocktails, Greek costumed dancers and “living” statues, and gaming à la Monte Carlo. The event netted $177,480 for the trauma center, a 44 percent increase from the previous year, with the help of 400 guests.

TOM BERCU PRESENTS, LOS ANGELES

Decor met high fashion at the “Valentino @ Valenti” event to benefit A Children's Village, which helps homeless children. The black, white and red decor featured Swarovski crystal-encrusted mannequins showcasing Valentino styles over the last 45 years and millions of dollars in jewelry. The Tom Bercu team and vendors took a percentage off the final invoices to encourage the 280 guests to donate generously.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST

FUTURE AFFAIRS PRODUCTIONS, EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.

A bride with a proud Irish heritage and a groom who spent 26 years in Hawaii combined their two cultures in “An Unconventional Wedding.” Leis, hula dancers, Irish step dancers and an Irish band all contributed to the wedding day ambience. Because the couple did not want a tent to mar the scenery, the event team installed 35 white spandex four-cornered sails horizontal to the ground to shield guests from the sun.

MAGIC MOMENTS, NORCOSS, GA.

The bride and groom embraced the season of their October nuptials with “A Tasteful Halloween Wedding.” A food station provided seasonal pumpkin-flavored bites; “Lurch” of TV's Addams family attended to the door; mad scientists in lab coats mixed cocktails; and the theme song of “Psycho” played in the bathroom. In true Halloween spirit, guests were encouraged to attend in costume.

WEDDING DESIGN 3, MARIETTA, GA.

The 1919 Oheka Castle in Long Island, N.Y., inspired the theme of the “Gatsby Wedding at Oheka” due to its connection with author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who often attended parties at the castle and used those experiences in his famed book. Boas, strands of “pearls,” and a midnight jazz and cigar party in the library added to the festive 1920s feel. Sepia photographs and print pieces continued the theme.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

EVENTS OF DISTINCTION, SAN FRANCISCO

Events of Distinction celebrated a couple's love of all things athletic in “Reaching a New Pinnacle.” An expansive vineyard estate and its historic building served as a scenic backdrop for the outdoors-loving pair. Custom-designed print pieces were sports-themed; mountain-climbing and bicycle equipment provided decor; and “lift tickets” served as escort cards.

FIORI FRESCO SPECIAL EVENTS, LA HABRA HEIGHTS, CALIF., AND DETAILS, DETAILS, IRVINE, CALIF.

The wedding team melded the bride's desire for a “clean and modern” wedding, the mother's request for “Old World” flair and the father's call for “something no one has seen before” for the Rock-Mink wedding. The outdoor space took on a formal French garden feel, punctuated with randomly placed spheres of moss, roses and stone. The outdoor cocktail lounge area featured swaybacked tufted sofas in ice-blue with camel-colored throws draped over the arms.

HONEYSWEET PRODUCTIONS, LOS ANGELES

For the first — and so far only — wedding held at L.A.'s Kodak Theatre, which hosts the Oscars ceremony, Honeysweet Productions opted for romance, drama and theatrics for “My Big Fat Kodak Wedding.” Wedding scenes from famous films were projected on a screen, and the bride and groom duped the audience into believing they performed an intricate dance number with the help of excellent lighting, a mood-setting scrim and professional dancers.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

The four-day “Inner Circle 2008” incentive event saw 480 guests taking full advantage of the Arizona desert locale. Guests were treated to a “Wild West Roundup” welcome reception, a “Daydream in the Desert” general session, a “Color Your World” dance party and a “Winter Night's Dream” final-night gala with musician Lionel Richie.

HARITH PRODUCTIONS, WILLOW GROVE, PA., AND COPACABANA PALACE, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

The five-day “Evening of Carioca Pride” entertained 68 incentive winners in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The welcome reception featured an icebreaker activity where guests could decorate masks with sequins, rhinestones and feathers. For the awards ceremony, the team transformed a ballroom into the Amazon rain forest with the help of green foliage, native flora and fauna, and the sounds of drums.

JOBE & ASSOCIATES, DUBLIN, OHIO

The “Island Royalty” annual sales conference hosted 220 guests at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, for four days of motivational morning sessions, afternoon excursions and themed evening events. The island locale was ideal for such activities as stingray encounters, deep-sea fishing and snorkeling. Evenings brought elegant, bohemian lounge areas and a surprise performance by singer Seal.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT PROGRAM FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION

JOBE & ASSOCIATES, DUBLIN, OHIO

The “National Sales Summit” provided 1,200 attendees a three-day event to experience the theme “engage, expand, succeed.” A Columbus, Ohio, hockey arena floor served as sports bar for the opening reception with Wii stations, arcade games, and pool and foosball tables. Brand colors red, green and blue could be found in everything from the linen to the lighting.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

The three-day Parts and Services Expo addressed the question: “What drives your company?” with the event “Drive” at the Orlando World Marriott Center in Orlando, Fla. Some 1,800 truck manufacturers, dealers, employees and suppliers attended an opening session with a stage built around a real truck and surrounded by five LED screens hung at different heights and depths. The 1950s-style farewell dinner was followed by an after-party at a drive-in movie theater complete with antique cars as decorations and rock group REO Speedwagon.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

“Team Up” was the theme of a three-day national sales kickoff meeting in Chicago for 450 salespeople. With a real stadium venue beyond the budget, the event team opted to turn the Renaissance Schaumburg [Ill.] Hotel and Convention Center into a mock stadium with the help of team banners, lighting and a digital scoreboard. Former National Football League player Archie Manning served as the keynote speaker.

BEST EVENT STAGED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

AFFINITY SPORTS MARKETING, SOUTHLAKE, TEXAS

McDonald's hosted the “Midnight Gaming Championship” with 56 tournaments in 16 cities over 16 weeks. Four mobile gaming event crews produced tournaments simultaneously in four cities to promote the fast-food chain's “Many Stores Open Late” initiative to night-owl gamers. It was the largest video game tournament in the country and the first to have consecutive tournaments in multiple cities on the same day.

CIRC CORPORATE EXPERIENCE, WIESBADEN, GERMANY

A leading chemical company tapped Circ to bring a “Marketplace of Innovations” to nearly 20,000 employees to convey the company's innovations and encourage employee commitment. The marketplace traveled to four continents — from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo, Brazil — demonstrating 24 innovations at 24 island stations. More than 200 presenters interacted with attendees to explain the innovations.

EVENT ARCHITECTS, CHICAGO

“2008 Procter & Gamble My Black is Beautiful Tour” targeted African-American women in five cities for an experiential event focusing on beauty products for this demographic. The mobile spa setup included a Pantene “Hairmony” Salon, Cover Girl Queen Collection Natural Hue makeup lounge and an Olay Skin Is In Studio. The Pantene “Hairitage” Museum allowed guests to view decades-old hair tools and advertisements; an art exhibit showcased local African-American artwork.

BEST FLORAL DESIGN

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGN, ROCKVILLE, MD.

Janet Flowers transformed a multilevel flagstone patio of a private home into a fall woodland for “Le Charme Automne.” Grapevines and bittersweet framed doors; clusters of asclepias, yarrow and other fall-colored flowers cascaded down the staircase railing. Harvested 15-foot-tall trees, wrought-iron trees and seasonal flowers served as centerpieces accented with cinnamon-colored candles.

JANET FLOWERS WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGN, ROCKVILLE, MD.

A contemporary floral design provided a unique juxtaposition at a Georgian-style mansion for “The Young and the Guestlist” event. Vessels for the flowers ranged from linear glass vases to complement the geometric furniture, 4-foot-tall rectangular bronze containers and even a French burlesque-style mannequin. Roses, tulips, orchids, lilies and blooming forsythia branches in fiery colors set the scene with such embellishments as black and red fishnet stockings, plumes and rhinestones.

THE PRECIOUS MOMENT BEIJING, BEIJING

This gala brought nature indoors with floral displays representing different seasons. For instance, the second level of the venue embodied summer with 700 flowers and crystal beads strung from the ceiling to symbolize the rainy summer season. A reconstructed 300-year-old traditional Chinese opera house served as the venue for a fashion show with models dressed in styles comprised primarily of plants and flowers.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION

CLASSIC PARTY RENTALS/DUCKY-BOB'S, CARROLLTON, TEXAS

Some 26,102 square feet of tented space served as the ceremony space for a “Ranch Wedding and Reception.” To supply the authentic church ambience the bride and groom wanted for their ceremony, Classic provided a 70-foot steeple, which complemented stained glass windows and wooden pews. An 8,700-square-foot tent divided into three levels acted as the reception area.

REGAL TENT PRODUCTIONS, STONEY CREEK, ONTARIO

Regal Tent erected a 100,000-square-foot tent for the “University of Pennsylvania Gala,” setting the scene for the fundraiser to reach its $3.5 billion goal. A year of planning and 24 consecutive days of construction resulted in a dramatic structure with a 26-foot-tall Arabesque tent and 13-foot glass walls. A storm with roughly 50 mile-per-hour gusts and flash flooding the night before the event called forplenty of hard work and wet vacuum cleaners to remove all signs of water before the event.

TOP PRODUCTIONS, RICHMOND, CALIF.

Top Productions turned a parking lot into an elegant venue for the 6,000-guest “Google Holiday Party.” A series of clear-span tents — 120-by-300, 100-by-300 and 80-by-180 — served as venue for the space-themed party while a 120-by-300 tent dubbed the “Worm Hole” provided the hallway. The team created a liner of black fabric trimmed with miles of keder to create an all-black room and a sturdy structure.

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

Designs by Sean produced a Moroccan-style rock concert for “Inner Circle 2008: Color Your World.” A floating 16-by-10-foot ring projection screen allowed for flexible lighting design, courtesy of the 50 LED light palette fixtures and 35 Intelligent Mac 550 motion light fixtures. Four silhouetted dancers appeared on the screen before it ascended into the ceiling to reveal a lighted dance floor.

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

A soccer pitch served as venue for the “Real Madrid Championship Celebration”; lighting was key to transform the space, which could not hold heavy structures. Spotlights produced stroboscopic flashes to transform the darkened stadium into a star-filled sky for the 80,000 attendees. More than 50 technicians worked nonstop for a day and a half with only one night to rehearse and check lighting for a production that would be broadcasted to 100 million people.

MOHEGAN SUN, UNCASVILLE, CONN.

Sonny, Cher and John Travolta impersonators provided entertainment for the “'70s Disco New Year's Eve Celebration” while 11 DL.2 projectors provided the groovy lighting. Psychedelic images and rapidly changing colors on projection screens set a funky scene with disco beads reflecting the light. The event required a 100-foot-diameter circle truss to house the lighting and sound systems in the square room.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT

AGGREKO, HOUSTON

Aggreko provided 150 milliwatts for power, 300 miles of cable and more than 2,000 electrical panels across 40 venues in six cities for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games — enough to power 175,000 homes. The Aggreko team, along with 200 contracted locals, worked together to overcome cultural differences, language barriers and logistical issues to ensure uninterrupted power.

BRITE IDEAS BY GREG CHRISTY, FOOTHILL RANCH, CALIF.

The event team created a production for 1,000 seen-it-all-before guests, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Dennis Hopper, with the “Grand Opening of Broad Contemporary Art Museum” at LACMA. The team opted for a 165-by-145-foot portable soundstage structure and a ceiling that could support 70,000 pounds. Video-programmable, 12-by-12-foot box-like chandeliers hung from above, while the back of the venue teased attendees with a seemingly solid Kabuki wall, which eventually fell away to reveal the new museum.

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

To celebrate Real Madrid's championship win after several years of disappointment, Global Events staged a “Championship Celebration” for Spain's rabid fans. The event required such technical equipment as a 100,000-watt sound system, 70 confetti shooters, 30 fire shooters and four high-power projectors. Gladiators appeared to pull three chariots, which were really maneuvered by a hidden pilot and propelled by a butane engine system specially designed for this event.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS

RAYMOND PRODUCTION GROUP, PEMBROKE PINES, FLA., AND BRAVO! ENTERTAINMENT, DALLAS

The “2007 Entertainment Showcase” included 23 acts, from bands to dance troupes, on one stage in under six hours. Each act was given its own look with the help of lighting, and a stage divided into five sections aided the three-minute turnaround between acts. Twenty-three detailed full-color stage plot road maps kept stagehands informed what was next at a glance.

THE ARRANGERS, DENVER

A year of planning went down the tubes when 11 days before the “Sustainability Expo and Concert,” the event was moved from the Invesco Field to avoid logistical conflicts with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. The move to a 60 percent smaller venue with four fewer vehicle access points created layout and transportation challenges that were overcome with the help of savvy planning and strong relationships with the city.

VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL CASINO, LAS VEGAS, AND LUMINOUS, HONG KONG

The event team threw the multi-day “Celebration Macau 2008” in honor of a business mogul's 75th birthday. The event drew on different cultural aspects of the honoree's life, such as his Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Jewish heritage, as well as his business accomplishments in China. Day One included VIP courtside seating for a basketball match between the U.S. Olympic team and the Lithuanian Olympic team, while the third day included such entertainment as a 1,000 Hand Buddha Dance and the Red Army Choir from Moscow.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT

CLASSIC PARTY RENTALS/DUCKY-BOB'S, CARROLLTON, TEXAS

The two-day “Neiman Marcus Centennial” required rentals for the Texas State Fair on one day, which included a rodeo, dinner and entertainment for 1,200 guests, and a black-tie gala for 1,600 the next. Deliveries had to be planned around the fair's 75 rides, 200 food vendors and 8,000 animals. The 100-year-old downtown Dallas Neiman Marcus store served as the site of the gala; a sole freight elevator complicated the logistics of the event, which took place on six floors.

CLASSIC PARTY RENTALS, MCCOOK, ILL.

Classic provided the three-day, 40,000-guest Sanford Health Celebration” with rental items that changed on a daily basis. Those items included a 56,416-square-foot structure, 1,800-square-foot tent, 4,012 stage sections, a 1,600-square-foot dance floor, 508 feet of draping, tabletop items for 1,800 attendees and more. This was all coordinated at a location 600 miles from the company's office.

TOP PRODUCTIONS, RICHMOND, CALIF.

Top Productions developed a temporary village for the “Scion United” commercial shoot and marketing event. With less than a week's notice, the team created an event space with 20 tents ranging in size from 10-by-10 to 120-by-220 in a barren desert location. The temporary venue covered 60,000 square feet of land with rental items from Top Productions' warehouse 600 miles away.

BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY

FIREWORKS CONCEPTS, WILMINGTON, DEL.

“Fire and Ice Luminaria” takes two natural opposites and combines them. A natural flame inside a large ice monolith creates a light source and ice sculpture all in one. The gas-fueled flame gently melts the ice and creates such shapes as flames or champagne flutes in the ice.

PINK INC., NEW YORK

For Nautica's entry in the DIFFA's Dining by Design 2008 event featuring different dining environments, Pink Inc. created “The Cove.” The product, which resembles giant spinnaker sails, defines space for lounge areas and entryways as well as softens corners. The Cove has since become available to all special event professionals.

VELON DESIGNS, SAN FRANCISCO

Velon Designs developed a Pucci-style print velon for the “Manus Valentine's Day Ball,” which had an Austin Powers theme. The print served as liner for a 60-by-60-foot tent, enveloping guests in a fun, whimsical environment. A vintage swatch from the '70s served as inspiration for the print.

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

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA., AND ANDY KUSHNER ENTERTAINMENT, ROCKVILLE, MD.

“Inner Circle 2008: Daydream in the Desert” general session had a dream theme set against an Arizona desert backdrop. Identical triplet violinists appeared singly playing different verses of the song “Dream Weaver” before joining together to finish the song. The grand finale featured Aerosmith's “Dream On” performed by a guitarist/singer and a string-based instrumental section — a 20-person gospel choir entered through the rear of the room and joined the performers on stage to bring the song to a close.

VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL CASINO, LAS VEGAS, AND LTEVENTIONS, LAS VEGAS

The event team had the task of entertaining 1,900 celebrities and VIPs at the “Jersey Boys Grand Opening Gala” following a viewing of the Tony Award-winning musical. A custom-made montage video took event-goers through the career of the musical's focus, the Four Seasons quartet. For the big reveal, a 180-foot projection screen plummeted to the floor to expose the event's stage, anchored by two giant vintage microphones and filled with more than 20 “American Bandstand”-style dancers.

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

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL

The annual “Daffodil Ball” fundraiser showed a sexy side thanks to a high-style “James Bond” theme. Decor-as-entertainment elements included a gold-painted “Goldfinger” beauty reclining on a rotating circular bed, an authentic Aston Martin car, a helicopter and a sophisticated video production that melded scenes from various Bond films onto multiple screens. Models clad in bikinis and fur coats enacted a scene with a handsome “Bond” spy.

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

The guest of honor enjoyed a show not only created for her, but about her. Using the client's chosen theme of “Monte Carlo,” the event team gave the acts a Latin twist to salute the honoree, including a bilingual narrator who switched easily between English and Spanish. Saluting the honoree's love of Christmas, one act including a Rockette-style production of “Winter Wonderland,” complete with a Radio City Music Hall setting.

EXPERIENTIAL EVENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA, AND BRAVO! ENTERTAINMENT, DALLAS

The “Feel the Beat” presentation stressed energy and teamwork for its corporate-employee audience through troupes of drummers, dancers and acrobats, along with interactive entertainment for the 1,500 guests. Acts performed in 20-minute segments on three different stages; guests moved throughout the space to follow the entertainment. The event team eschewed headliners, opting instead for unique acts including a Chinese Cube, Dan the One Man Band, and an Earth Harp.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET above $100,000

HELLO FLORIDA, ORLANDO, FLA.

More than 7,300 guests enjoyed a huge beach party without ever leaving the hotel. Event areas included the “North Shore,” with Hawaiian music and dancers, “South Beach,” where attractive models dispensed temporary tattoos, “Key West,” with Caribbean hair-braiding and T-shirt painting, and “Coney Island,” with classic carnival games. A 40-by-40-foot stage installed in the swimming pool showcased MTV-style games.

TOM BERCU PRESENTS, LOS ANGELES, AND EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

For a high-tech client's 7,000-attendee welcome reception, the event team skipped the usual stage entertainers, opting instead to line the walls of the bare event space with a 900-foot-long projection surface for floor-to-ceiling video “wallpaper.” In keeping with the event's status as a global meeting, the decor/entertainment included performers from throughout the world, ranging from sumo wrestlers to Bollywood dancers. Music embedded into the video further enhanced the experience.

VOK DAMS GROUP, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

Vok Dams Group turned a 98-foot dining table into a performance stage to present the brand values of Lamborghini to journalists and dealers. Between courses, ninja acrobats battled each other to demonstrate the brand's power while elegant models used the table as a catwalk to underscore Lamborghini's high style. The walls of the dinner tent served as projection screens for images of the cars; openings in the tent walls served as frames when two cars roared up to the tent.

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

The event team celebrated the victorious season of football (soccer) team Real Madrid with a dramatic spectacle involving all 80,000 attendees at the final game. As each fan held up a reflecting screen, light cannons projected key messages such as “champions” and “thanks.” A gigantic pyramid rose from the playing field on which images of players and fans were projected. At the finale, dancers led the players onto the field for applause and a shower of confetti and fireworks.

THE FULL EFFECT, BEDFORD, ENGLAND

The two-night “Light Fantastic” spectacle drew more than 160,000 people to the heart of an English city to enjoy son et lumiere shows, which included lasers, gas jets and fireworks, and large-format projections on building facades. Performers from avant-garde troupe Transe Express dangled from a giant child's mobile 150 feet above the ground. Local schoolchildren helped create models used for a lantern parade through the city streets.

VOK DAMS GROUP, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

To herald the spinoff of a major coal producer's “white,” non-coal business, the event team replaced the corporation's old logo on its headquarters building with a glowing skin reading, “Hi, I'm the new one!” At the official press conference, the veiled building facade appeared to blast open, revealing the new entity's name, logo and slogan. More than five million people saw the veiling/unveiling of the company's identity over the course of the campaign.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST

ASE GROUP, OVERLAND PARK, KAN.

The theme of “connectivity” ran throughout this bar mitzvah, which mixed modern technology with ancient tradition. The event logo — the celebrant's silhouette reminiscent of the Apple computer logo — appeared on plates, while yarmulkes were printed with the word “connect.” The event team researched six generations of the celebrant's family to create family trees at each place setting.

EVENTS OF DISTINCTION, SAN FRANCISCO

An engaged couple completely overhauled the plans for their engagement parties, finally settling on a freewheeling gala at a Napa Valley, Calif., winery. A “kaleidoscope” theme enlivened the mood for 89 guests, from eight giant kinetic motion wheels at the outdoor cocktail reception to the after-dinner “Kaleidoscope Lounge,” featuring cast-aluminum Versailles chairs, mirror cube tables and glowing bar stations.

ROGERS AND GALA CREATIVE PARTNERS, CHARLOTTE, N.C.

An outsize “rose” theme honored bat mitzvah celebrant Annie Rose, from invitations accompanied by rose-topped cupcakes to place cards in the form of origami roses attached to a hand-painted canvas, to a cocktail menu including rose champagne and pink mojito martinis. The bat mitzvah girl made her entrance to the party on her own Rose Parade-style float.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

A SPECIAL EVENT, DALLAS, AND LARRY LEATHERS DESIGN SERVICES, DALLAS

The Dallas Convention Center stood in for Manhattan for 600 bat mitzvah guests. Guests passed vignettes of the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park, then watched a performance of a mock “Radio City Rockettes” troupe, which included a surprise performance by the bat mitzvah girl. Armed with play money logo'd for the honoree, teen guests descended on “Canal Street” for a shopping jag.

E=MC2 EVENT MANAGEMENT, CALGARY, ALBERTA

Although the event venue — the home of the honoree — was in the midst of a renovation, the event team worked with contractors to finish as much as possible, then masked off unfinished areas. The evening included a gourmet dinner for 120 guests followed by an elaborate entertainment lineup, including the act String Theory and singer Holly Cole.

VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL CASINO, LAS VEGAS, AND LUMINOUS, HONG KONG

A five-day 75th birthday celebration for a business tycoon drew on the honoree's Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Jewish heritage. Some 250 guests from throughout the world arrived in Macau for events including basketball games, tours of Macau and Hong Kong, and lavish entertainment. The birthday party included performances of the 1,000 Hands Buddha, the Three Tenors from Israel and Moscow's Red Army Choir.

BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

THE LUNDQUIST CO., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

To build excitement for the fifth anniversary celebration for the City of Rancho Cordova, Calif., the event team staged five neighborhood barbecues — each hosted by a city council member — featuring free hot dogs, prize drawings and music. At the official anniversary event, held at city hall, more than 2,000 guests were treated to band music; branded commemorative bags contained a logo'd key ring, mouse pad, Frisbee, cookie and a Top 10 list of the city's accomplishments since its incorporation.

VOK DAMS GROUP, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

To herald the spinoff of a major coal producer's “white,” non-coal business, the event team replaced the corporation's old logo on its headquarters building with a glowing skin reading, “Hi, I'm the new one!” At the official press conference, the veiled building facade appeared to blast open, revealing the new entity's name, logo and slogan. A 33-city road show for the company's 43,000 employees helped communicate the company's new direction.

WACHOVIA BANK, CHARLOTTE, N.C., AND SYNERGY EVENTS, OCEAN, N.J.

To win customers and show that saving money can be fun, a major bank created a three-story, 20,000-pound money machine, in which participants had the chance to grab as much cash as they could. The events also featured celebrities, spa treatments and a photo booth. The four-month, 12-city tour generated 413 million media impressions, with an estimated value of $18 million, and more than one million new accounts.

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

The event team celebrated the victorious season of football (soccer) team Real Madrid with a dramatic spectacle involving all 80,000 attendees at the final game. As each fan held up a reflecting screen, light cannons projected key messages such as “champions” and “thanks.” At the finale, dancers led the players onto the field for applause and a shower of confetti and fireworks.

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

The event team created an artificial lagoon as the stage for the dramatic launch of a new car line. In place of the traditional training session, attendees watched a theatrical extravaganza in Spain that included a popular TV host interacting via satellite hookup with the automaker's CEO, who was at the Frankfurt [Germany] Auto Show. As a surprise to guests, the car models that were supposedly makingtheir debut in Germany appeared as projections that morphed into actual cars racing onto the stage.

VOK DAMS GROUP, WUPPERTAL, GERMANY

Vok Dams Group turned a 98-foot dining table into a performance stage to present the brand values of Lamborghini to journalists and dealers. Between courses, ninja acrobats battled each other to demonstrate the brand's power, while elegant models used the table as a catwalk to underscore Lamborghini's high style. The walls of the dinner tent served as projection screens for images of the cars; openings in the tent walls served as frames when two cars roared up to the tent.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $20,000

BEEVENTS, MINNEAPOLIS

The event team capitalized on the venue for an awards gala — a design center — by avoiding the predictable floral pieces and theme props, turning instead to decor pieces functioning as modern “art installations.” These included a 42-inch TV screen installed in the floor facing up (which also carried a welcome message) and a four-story sculpture of falling stars, which helped fill the cavernous atrium space.

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

The rehearsal dinner for a Florida wedding took full advantage of flora at the venue — a marine park — to create a tropical paradise. Custom air-brushed spandex linen in floral designs covered each table; tables also featured dramatic floral centerpieces. Floor-length raffia skirting dressed serpentine buffet tables, which sported tropical leaf print overlays.

ROBERT FOUNTAIN EVENT DESIGNS, SAN FRANCISCO

A husband originally from the East Coast and his wife, raised in California, celebrated their 50th birthdays with a “100 Years of Living” bicoastal-theme party. The cocktail lounge resembled Manhattan's famed Rainbow Room, while centerpieces in the dining room featured mimosa branches dripping with California oranges. The “100” motif appeared in matchbooks, seating cards and place cards.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $20,000 TO $49,999

CATERING BY DESIGN, DENVER

Playing on the theme “raising the bar” for a catering company's open house, the event team created an array of decorated food stations in its warehouse, kitchen, conference room and even loading dock. At the Martini Bar, a sassy snow bunny served white chocolate lava lamp martinis. At the Feather Bar, pink feather boas set off an array of crab cakes and pulled suckling pig meatballs.

PLANNING FACTORY INTERNATIONAL, WILMINGTON, DEL.

The event team delivered the exotic “Arabian Nights” theme requested by the client for the company's employee recognition event by turning to unique techniques, such as installing tent frames indoors, which were covered with fabric and used as both extra seating and decor elements. The use of two seating options — standard hotel tables for guests and special lighted tables for award winners — created extra drama at low cost.

THE PRECIOUS MOMENT BEIJING, BEIJING

For an interior design magazine's awards program, the event team showcased four trendsetting decorating styles — “spontaneity,” “mix and match,” “indulgence” and “naturalistic” — as table centerpieces. The popular “naturalistic” tabletops featured floral in jars functioning as tiny eco-systems. The 255-foot perimeter of the venue — a nondescript hotel ballroom — was defined by a 16-foot-tall silvery drape that threw attention to the centerpieces, which guests eagerly took away with them.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $50,000 TO $150,000

DECOR & MORE, OAKVILLE, ONTARIO, AND E=MC2 EVENT MANAGEMENT, CALGARY, ALBERTA

To create an edgy, engaging bash for an employee appreciation event, the event team keyed on '60s pop art icon Andy Warhol's “The Factory.” Some 1,700 employees piled into a 13,500-square-foot hotel ballroom to find a three-tier stage, which offered a dramatic focal point in the cramped quarters, a dance floor, and communal tables and stools. Glowing martini glasses and cocktails with LED “ice cubes” kept the psychedelic mood alive.

HELLO FLORIDA, ORLANDO, FLA.

The 20th anniversary of a black-and-white theme ball fundraiser had a fresh new look — even for guests who had attended annually — thanks to its focus on the elegant art deco era. Fabric wall hangings inspired by graphic designer Erte, the “father of art deco,” lined the ballroom, which featured black and white velvet flocked linen and bouquets of black magic roses. Black and white acrylic bars sported the event's 20th anniversary logo.

THE PRECIOUS MOMENT BEIJING, BEIJING

The beauty of the seasons came to life at a residential developer's annual brand promotion event. To represent the dramatic summer rainstorms of China's southern regions, 700 strands of white orchids and crystal beads dangled from the venue's rafters. In the main banquet hall, tables were decorated in four styles, symbolizing the four communities the developer had created.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $150,000

ALISON SILCOFF EVENTS, MONTREAL, AND DICK WALSH, NEW YORK

The annual “Daffodil Ball” fundraiser took on a sexy side thanks to a high-style “James Bond” theme. Decor-as-entertainment elements included a gold-painted beauty reclining on a rotating circular bed, an authentic Aston Martin car, a helicopter and a sophisticated video production that melded scenes from various Bond films onto screens simultaneously. Amusing gadgets including flip-top book lights served as favors.

THE CATERING CO. DECOR, CHAPEL HILL, N.C.

Although they were actually in a nondescript gymnasium, guests at the final gala for the University of North Carolina's capital campaign had the sense they were dining inside the school's beloved “Old Well” landmark thanks to clever projections and iconic decor elements. A 360-degree screen showed images of the campus; the images slowly changed from day to night. Highboys were dressed in “Carolina blue” linen, a nod to the school's colors.

TOM BERCU PRESENTS, LOS ANGELES, AND EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

The event team created seven of San Francisco's iconic neighborhoods in an abandoned hangar for 11,000 guests — primarily Gen Y male, high-tech professionals. The 132,000-square-foot space took on a block-party vibe thanks to a mix of carnival games, street performers, richly detailed lounges and a stage for headliner performances. The lounges depicted distinctive districts including the Mission, Haight-Ashbury and SOMA.

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

HARITH PRODUCTIONS, WILLOW GROVE, PA., AND GB INTERNACIONAL, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

The beauty of the Amazonian rain forest came alive for 68 guests at an awards gala thanks to unique centerpieces using Brazilian flora, an authentic Brazilian menu and lively samba performers. The event team aided the local community by commissioning disadvantaged children to make carnival-costumed dolls and present the dolls to guests. To create an eco-friendly event, the event team stressed the use of local suppliers.

PHOENIXVILLE FOUNDRY, PHOENIXVILLE, PA.

A 125-year-old abandoned foundry served as an elegant venue for a company's holiday party thanks to imaginative use of tenting, including a 1,800-square-foot clear-span erected inside the historic building's shell. To prep the space, the event team used HEPA-filter vacuums to remove dust from decades of disuse. Wall drape in winter-white accented with bare white branches and snow drift vignettes added to the holiday mood.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

Winners of a pharmaceutical company's incentive program visited a Caribbean island where they turned treasure-hunters on the resort property. Challenges included physical and mental tests along with lighthearted stunts. Due to the tight budget, the event team created the scavenger hunt without benefit of an initial site visit.

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

CINDY THOMPSON EVENT PRODUCTIONS, PORTLAND, ORE.

To reenergize an engineering client's annual awards banquet, the event team used the venue — the Portland [Ore.] Art Museum — to underscore the theme of creativity. The “Artists of Innovation” event featured a gigantic mural created by a prominent local artist; guests were invited to pick up a paintbrush and add their own accents to the piece. At the awards dinner, centerpieces contained craft supplies for guests to create their own flashing, wearable “party bling” — a huge hit with the engineer guests.

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

A recognition gala took on world-class status thanks to its “New Seven Wonders of the World” theme. The event team tied food, decor and entertainment to landmarks including India's Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue. The dining room's “China” area featured ruby red linen, black napkins and chiavaris with red chair caps, while tables in the “Brazil” area offered centerpieces with miniature Christ the Redeemer statues, deep blue linen and peacock feather accents.

TOTAL EVENT RESOURCES, SCHAUMBURG, ILL.

For a new twist on the corporate holiday party, 500 employees entered the “Holiday Workshop,” which featured lunch buffets decorated with a holiday theme. The surprise came when the company chairman announced that the employees would build toys to donate to a local children's charity. The employees received $100 gift cards and chances to win iPods and airline tickets, along with a wave of positive press for the 500 toys they created for needy children.

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

DESIGNS BY SEAN, DANIA, FLA.

A recognition event turned into an adventure in Morocco thanks to imaginative tenting and vivid draping. Three 10-by-10-foot tents connected the 100-by-180-foot main tent with a 100-by-30-foot tent housing interactive entertainment and the “dessert lounge.” A 16-by-10-foot circular projection screen floated above the main stage; as the 480 guests entered the tent, the screen descended to showcase silhouetted dancers performing atop lighted pedestals.

EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

Both to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary and to salute clients, the event team secured the historic Mount Vernon, Va., estate of U.S. President George Washington as the venue. Period detail — including service styles and floral — helped ensure an authentic experience for the 600 guests. Although speeches from executives ran far longer than scheduled, the event team worked with the caterer behind the scenes to keep service and food quality high.

WELCOME EVENT MARKETING, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

To create an unforgettable product launch heralding a new energy-efficient “Alpha” pump, the event team asked the 280 guests to sign a charter affirming their commitment to protecting the environment before transporting them to the top of a melting glacier, where they saw the impact of global warming firsthand. Upon returning to the mountain lodge for their social event, guests saw huge projections — using the mountain itself as the projection screen — of the Alpha pump.

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

GLOBAL EVENTS, MADRID

To boost both employee and retailer morale for a car line, the event team staged a splashy four-day program including meetings, car exhibition, gala dinner and lavish entertainment. Going beyond a presentation of the new car models themselves, the entertainment program stressed the resurgence of the brand via spectacular elements including fire and light cannons, water screens and hidden fountains. The show was staged on a huge platform system built beneath the surface of a lake.

PLEON EVENT & SPONSORING, BONN, GERMANY

The event team merged the world of fashion with auto design for the press premiere of the Mercedes-Benz CLC sport coupe during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. Some 450 guests watched as live fashion models wearing couture clothing were morphed back via animation to the designers' initial sketches. The program continued with the car itself evolving from an initial sketch into an intricate design, concluding with two cars roaring onto the catwalk.

TOM BERCU PRESENTS, LOS ANGELES, AND EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

The event team created seven of San Francisco's iconic neighborhoods in an abandoned hangar for11,000 guests — primarily Gen Y male, high-tech professionals. The 132,000-square-foot space took on a block-party vibe thanks to a mix of carnival games, street performers, richly detailed lounges and a stage for headliner performances. The lounges depicted distinctive districts including the Mission, Haight-Ashbury and SOMA.

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