Special Events


IT'S DECEMBER, AND with the holidays on the way, I'm drawing up my wish list. If anyone is wondering what gifts to get for me, here is what I'd like:

I wish for a solid, sustained economic recovery; it's vital to the special event industry.

I wish for the appalling story of indicted former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski's infamous “birthday party” to run its course and fade away. And it will. But I fear that we'll have to fight to overcome this example of wretched excess for some time.

When special events are dismissed as “frivolous,” I wish that we could all do as good a job as Janet Landey, CSEP, of Party Design in Johannesburg, South Africa, does at explaining their value. When she hears this common cant, she asks what is preferable — giving a needy person a handout, or giving him a job in catering, a job in decor, a job as a server?

I wish that I'll get more great opinion pieces from my readers, like Jan Rocco's “I Am All Out of Free, and I'm Not Making Any More,” which we ran in our October issue. Jan spoke for many in the industry when she explained frankly that to stay in business, she has to run a business, not a charitable foundation. And boy, did that one hit a nerve!

I wish for a year when the event industry won't be called upon to be generous because of hurricanes, floods and fires.

I wish for the instantaneous obliteration of spam e-mail.

I wish that event pros who don't recognize that this is a team sport would wise up.

I wish that we could keep the good ones with us. In October we lost Clifford Wallace, a talented event professional, an ISES stalwart and member of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board. I first met Clifford when he showed up at our 2001 Gala Awards judging session, just three weeks after 9/11. Several Board members who had planned to join us declined at the last minute — quite understandably — because virtually everyone was skittish about flying. But Clifford came all the way to California from Australia, bringing along his wonderful smile, grace and charm. Having him here cheered me up and gave me back some hope.

I wish that I can be an attendee at as many wonderful special events as possible. What a gift!

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