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WHEN IS A PARTY not just a party? When it's also an opportunity for creative inspiration, business education and important networking with colleagues from around the globe. The Special Event 2003, coming to Orlando, Fla., Jan. 8-11, promises a full slate of day and evening events designed with industry pros in mind. Here we highlight some of the show's hottest tickets.


On Jan. 8, the “Rolling Thunder HarleyFest” Welcome Party rolls into the Orlando Harley-Davidson Historic Factory, bringing classic cuisine from members of NACE, which sponsors the party and uses a portion of funds raised by the event for outreach and educational programs both locally and nationally.

Guests can look forward to dozens of gleaming motorcycles, tattoo artists and a leather fashion show, says event chair Shelley Ferguson of Longwood, Fla.-based Corporate Affairs. Traditionally the Welcome Party “can be somewhat intimidating when you've never been to it before, and you see 1,500 of your closest competitors,” she adds. “We're trying to do certain things to make sure newcomers and people who don't have all their best friends there with them will feel equally welcome.”


On Jan. 9, the “Evolution Revolution” Theme Lunch at Orlando's Gaylord Palms resort is designed “to enlighten people to their internal creative energy and get them in touch with all eight senses,” says event chair Mark Wells of Orlando-based The Art of the Party. “All senses have to be there to have a full event,” Wells explains, adding intuition, common sense and sense of humor to the traditional five. “Through custom scripting, we are going to touch all those different areas.”

That evening, guests are invited to enjoy a “unique environment of interactive fun, fantastic food, dazzling entertainment and spectacular surprises” at the 2003 Opening Night Party, says event chair David DeLoach of Magic Kingdom Park, the event's fun-filled location. The party, which will offer unlimited access to some of the park's top attractions including Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, is intended “to set the tone for the rest of the conference,” DeLoach says.


“Wedding coordinators and planners from time to time get so caught up in the ceremonial aspect of their client's wedding that they forget or tend to not pay attention to the excitement that is building,” says Shawn Sawyer of Nassau, Bahamas-based Cacique International. The 2003 Wedding Lunch, Jan. 10 at conference host hotel The Peabody Orlando, “is designed to reignite this excitement with fashion trends, food trends, designer jewelry and international trends,” the event chair adds.

Business leaders may opt for the Leadership Lunch, also slated for Jan. 10 at The Peabody. The event will feature guest speaker and moderator Steve Kemble of Dallas-based Steve Kemble Event Design, and is designed “to bring event leaders together at a forum to discuss industry trends, forecasts and future trends that managers and planners have on their minds for 2003,” explains event chair Kellie Mathas of USA Hosts, New Orleans.


It's strictly hush-hush on specifics of the Gala Awards celebration, Jan. 11. While the team behind the top-secret extravaganza isn't giving any details away, Gala chair Shari Hirsch, CSEP, of Orlando-based Patti Coons Associates Event Marketing Group will say that her expert crew plans to have “an event where the theme is built and carried through all aspects.”

Hirsch encourages every conference attendee with an appetite for exhilaration to attend — even newcomers and non-nominees, who, she says, “get the excitement from the winners, which in turn makes them excited, so that they will enter the following year.”

For more information on these and all events at The Special Event 2003, call 800/927-5007 or 203/358-3751, or visit

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