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Jazzing It Up in New Orleans

THE SPECIAL EVENT 2001 WILL MAKE THE GOOD TIMES ROLL GUESTS ATTENDING The Special Event 2001, Jan. 10-13, will enjoy not only visiting the culturally rich city of New Orleans, but also will have the opportunity to enjoy innovative events designed especially for them.

ASIAN INTRIGUE Kellie Mathas, operations manager of the New Orleans branch of Las Vegas-based USA Hosts, describes The Special Event 2001 Welcome Party, slated for Jan. 10, as "high-energy Asian fusion." As the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Snake - approaches, attendees are invited to "shed their skin" as they meet with old friends and colleagues.

This NACE-sponsored event will take place at the Aquarium of the Americas and will feature cuisine and specialty drinks from local NACE member restaurants. As guests stroll through the state-of-the-art aquarium, they can enjoy the nightclub atmosphere of the Feng Shui Lounge, featuring a dance floor and disc jockey, or linger in the "tranquility room," complete with tai chi performers and violinists. Professional masseurs will offer neck and shoulder massages, and Chinese fortunetellers will entertain guests with predictions of the future.

Other themes beckoning visitors will be balance, vision, energy and fire, with surprise entertainment and delicious food around every corner, Mathas promises. Houston-based LD Systems will light the open-air plaza by the aquarium, and New Orleans-based Classic Fireworks by Events Inc. will treat guests to a spectacular fireworks display. "We're going to paint the sky above the Mississippi River with specially made fireworks," says David Spear, president of Classic Fireworks. "It's going to be great."

LIFE OF THE PARTY In New Orleans the Carnival season officially begins Jan. 6, and festivities grow more exciting as Mardi Gras draws closer. The Special Event attendees will have the perfect opportunity to join in the celebration, jazzing it up at the Opening Night Party at Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World on Jan. 11. Once off-limits to the public, Mardi Gras World will offer guests a behind-the-scenes look at many of its larger-than-life floats, including "Leviathan," a 140-foot triple-tandem sea monster. Those attending the party will be encouraged to dress in costume and can expect to experience food from some of the best caterers in the city as well as local jazz and soul bands. Themed areas by New Orleans-based Mardi Gras Productions will be scattered throughout the venue and will include an eerie voodoo area, a colorful Mardi Gras area, a Southern mansion area and a swamp area.

THE GRANDEST GALA Industry professionals won't want to miss the Gala Awards and Celebration on Jan. 13 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Along with surprises from New York-based Jill Cotter Management/Opening Night Entertainment, Pink Inc., also based in New York, will bring in a visual dance presentation group. Guests can look forward to hearing authentic New Orleans jazz, including the local act Tomato and the Hot Stuff Band.

Before dinner, Netherlands-based Ketel One Vodka and Anaheim, Calif.-based Carving Ice, which co-hosted martini ice bars at The Special Event 2000 in San Diego, will once again provide martinis and other vodka cocktails. And SakeOne, based in Forest Grove, Ore., will host a bar featuring its flavored sakes.

Sam Cavell, production director of New Orleans-based The Vega Group and one of the coordinators of the program, notes the lighting will be done by Philadelphia-based Current Events International. She describes CEI as "one of the hottest event lighting companies in the country." Point Richmond, Calif.-based M.K. Shannon Awards and Rewards is again providing the custom awards, and New Orleans-based Royal Audio Video will furnish the cameras and projection equipment. AVI Creative Production Group, based in Orlando, Fla., will provide lasers, while Qualatex Balloon Network/Pioneer Balloons, based in Wichita, Kan., will wow guests with its balloon installation. Gorham, Maine-based Transformit will custom design the stage and will include pieces from its new Dream Spinners collection.

After the awards ceremony, guests can dance the night away to legendary local band Rockin' Dopsie, which will perform music characterized by Cavell as a combination of "zydeco, rock 'n' roll and blues."

CONTACTS: Classic Fireworks by Events Inc., 504/893-8800; The Vega Group, 504/488-5222; USA Hosts, 800/368-4678, 504/524-8687.

CORRECTION, PLEASE In The Special Event 2001 insert in Special Events Magazine's October issue, the seminar "Satisfying the Senses: Part II" should have included David McMillan, partner and executive chief, and William K. Burnett Jr., production designer, as speakers along with David Merrell. Their firm is Los Angeles-based An Original Occasion.

For more information about The Special Event, sponsored by Special Events Magazine, call 800/288-8606 or 303/741-2901 or visit

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