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Special Events

Presenting the Winner of the 1999 Gala Awards

The Gala Awards Ceremony & Celebration, sponsored by Special Events Magazine, honors a wide variety of event professionals and their events. This year, the ceremony was held at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida on January 10, the last night of The Special Event '99. More than to 800 industry professionals gathered to applaud both nominees and winners of the 1999 Gala Awards. Special Events Magazine and The Special Event extend their appreciation to each individual and company who entered the competition this year. Thanks also to the members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board, who flew in a day early to judge the final nominees, and to the Gala Awards Committee for giving its time and energy to create a winning environment for the ceremony and celebration.

Best Off-Premise Catered Event Ridgewells Bethesda, Maryland Ridgewells, looking for fresh directions in creative catering, hosted a fall/winter runway show with a twist. The focus of this fashion show wasn't on models and clothing. Instead, it was on tabletop and catering ideas that highlighted Ridgewells' talents and gave attendees new ideas for event giving.

Best Event Produced By A Hotel Catering Department Westchester Country Club Rye, New York Guests of this country club boarded the Titanic and were transported to an evening capturing the spirit of the Edwardian age and the romance of ocean travel. Attired in period dress, guests dined on the ship's recreated menu and danced under the stars in authentically named and decorated dining areas reminiscent of the time. With Captain Smith's announcement that an iceberg had been sighted, sparklers simultaneously ignited, ending the unusual night.

Best Event Produced For A Nonprofit Organization Empire Force Events New York New York's Central Park was the setting for "Hong Kong Tai Chi in the Park," an event honoring the ancient Chinese exercise art. Empire Force produced staging, signage, display and media presentations that joined the tranquillity of the natural surroundings with the energy of New York City. The event brought together New York's tai chi practitioners with Hong Kong's master instructors in one of the largest synchronized tai chi movements ever recorded.

Best Fund-Raising Event Napa Valley Wine Auction Napa, California Stuart Rental Company Sunnyvale, California The Napa Valley Wine Auction, a charity event supporting Napa Valley health care organizations, comprised numerous events over four days. More than 1,400 community volunteers collaborated on the yearlong project to showcase Napa Valley. The event invited 2,000 guests to experience the ultimate wine country lifestyle, including wine and food tasting and a wine auction.

Most Outstanding Spectacle LD Systems Houston LD Systems designed and contracted all elements that brought together "Sky Power Over Houston," the largest laser-light and fireworks show in North America. City buildings as high as 1,200 feet were illuminated in a multitude of colors when more than 60 buildings became the stage from which to launch pyrotechnics and mount large format lighting. The event ended with a light and fireworks show across the sky set to diverse music. The presentation was seen by more than a million people, covered 144 city blocks and was visible 360 degrees around the city.

Best Multiple-Day Incentive Events Poko Event Productions Los Angeles Rupert Murdoch convened more than 600 of his top executives for News Corporation's 1998 Sun Valley Management Conference. Six days of events included three blockbuster galas. In addition to overseeing entertainment, lighting, design and decor, and creating invitations for two of the events, Poko also handled food and beverage requirements for the conference.

Best Event Produced For A Corporation Budget Between $30,000 and $100,000 An Original Occasion Los Angeles A new San Diego community located in an area of barren hills was transformed into a medieval village, with the use of tent configurations and floral, prop and design techniques. Costumed staff served an Edwardian feast. More than 1,000 guests attended the event and were entertained by fortune tellers, jugglers, dancers and magicians.

Best Event Produced For A Corporation Budget Between $100,000 and $300,000 Empire Force Events New York Beginning at the turn of the century and moving through each decade, "Countdown to the Next Millennium" included choreographed performances and interactive dances set to a medley of popular songs. The event climaxed in a 1999 New Year's Eve countdown. The event included thematic design, costumes and giveaways.

Best Event Producd For A Corporation Budget Above $300,000 John Daly Inc. International Santa Barbara, California John Daly International traveled to France to produce this Gillette World Cup '98 hospitality event. Among the highlights of the seven-part assignment was bringing the 16th century Chateau de Chantilly to life for a party with huge floral displays, period fabrics, fountains and lighting.

Best Corporate/Company Picnic Fun Factory Decorations and Special Events Dallas Steve Kemble Event Design Dallas For this corporate picnic, the producers turned the new campus of one of the world's major soft drink companies into Treasure Island. The event included a black tie gala, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an outdoor finale for 1,400 guests. The outdoor festival presented attendees with a themed theatrical production, a petting zoo, a giant sandbox filled with sand and buried treasure, and a custom-made moat filled with 300 gallons of water.

Best Event Produced For A Private Individual Five Star Productions Napa, California White and transparent was the theme for this outdoor birthday party, set among the hosts' vineyards in Calistoga. A canopy of white gauze, strung from the host's favorite backyard tree, set the mood. Lanterns, soft light, contemporary art and exquisite flowers on tables created a romantic mood. A seating lottery was designed to "mix up" the guests and spouses. A lively band led dancing into the morning hours.

Best Wedding Budget Under $30,000 Bobby Rodriguez Productions Fort Lauderdale, Florida This Renaissance-style wedding, which took place during an actual Renaissance fair, began with a period "handfasting" marriage ceremony by a lake and ended with an outdoor reception designed to resemble a medieval fairy tale.

Tie: Best Wedding Budget Above $30,000 Cordially Invited Beverly Hills, California The wedding of a Japanese-American couple and their 150 guests exemplified a blend of Eastern traditions with the exuberance of the West. Clean architectural lines and carefully placed bursts of color, specifically at the head table, defined the look of the outdoor reception. Lush use of floral petals at the ceremony and a box motif related to Japanese origami lent originality to the day.

Tie:Best Wedding Budget Above $30,000 Designs by Sean Dania, Florida Famous Firsts Pompano Beach, Florida Carousel horses and a carnival atmosphere lent an upbeat uniqueness to this wedding reception for two horse lovers. Guests enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of a carnival midway in the cocktail area, surrounded by a miniature working carousel and tented carnival game booths. The dining area, meanwhile, was fashioned after a more sophisticated European carnival.

Best Event Entertainment Concept And Execution Budget Under $20,000 Extraordinary Events Sherman Oaks, California An interactive dinner theater performance of Sunset Boulevard highlighted this evening at a historic mansion in Beverly Hills. Food and drink, decor and the 30-minute choreographed performance incorporated the architecture of this unique home.

Best Event Entertainment Concept And Execution Budget $20,000 to $50,000 The Design Group Minneapolis At this Gangster Gala, guests were brought on stage to interact with entertainers, danced to swing and dance bands, and sat back and enjoyed their favorite cigars. Smoking and nonsmoking casinos, orchestras and interactive acts made for an evening with an unusual amount of entertainment.

Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution Budget Above $50,000 BASS Greensboro, North Carolina "Thirty Years of Bass Fishing Thrills & Fantastic Family Fun" was the theme of 1998's self-titled Greatest Fishing Show in the World. In addition to the prestigious BASS fishing competition, the weeklong festival featured a record-setting parachute jump, a laser-light show and indoor pyrotechnics, and a free outdoor show that drew more than 100,000 visitors.

Best Theatrical Entertainment Production Cornerstone Entertainment Concepts Oakville, Ontario, Canada Cornerstone produced the grand finale stage show for a playing field party at the SkyDome in Toronto. Three stages, rock-climbing walls and climbers, dancers, rappellers, extreme sport trampoline artists, and a laser and pyrotechnic spectacular made use of the scale and size of the stadium.

Best Fair/Festival Event Management Company Madison, Wisconsin Hughes family members wanted to honor their 150-year tradition of farming in Wisconsin and to join the state's sesquicentennial celebration. They turned to the event planner in the family, Andrea Hughes, and 11 months later, their family farm became a tourist attraction. The focalpoint of the event was a 10-acre maze cut into a cornfield featuring 2.5 miles of paths that formed the state of Wisconsin. Hospitality tents, helicopter rides and a petting zoo rounded out the event.

Best Floral Design John Daly Inc. International Santa Barbara, California "An Evening at Chantilly" featured giant floral displays complemented by period fabrics, all enhanced by special lighting. Two 18-foot-tall floral displays commanded the entryway. Ten-foot-tall Flemish-style arrangements graced buffets. Table centerpieces featured golden candelabra with votives that appeared to float over low arrangements of flowers, lemons and grapes.

Best Dining Table Design David Tutera New York This birthday celebration at the honoree's 38-room mansion took place in three dining rooms: formal, informal and family. The formal dining room featured two 18th century candelabras placed in the center of the 25-foot-long table. A runner covering the length of the table featured crystals, candles, floral and fruit. Custom-made, lavender silk chair cushions adorned the chairs.

Best Theme Decor Budget Under $10,000 Epcot Events Orlando, Florida Themed "Out Of The Box," this dining event came to life with bright colors and quirky displays incorporating wooden crates and boxes, entertainment, and a never-ending array of creatively prepared food.

Best Theme Decor Budget Between $10,000 and $25,000 Party Artistry New York An automotive junkyard was created for this bar mitzvah party. Guests turned keys in their individual ignitions to claim their place cards. Aluminum tubing, gas cans, hub caps, air hoses and various car parts made up a sculptured ceiling. Floral centerpieces featured highway and automotive props. Hot colored lights moved throughout the evening to reflect off the other design elements in the room to create an unusual effect.

Best Theme Decor Budget Between $25,000 and $50,000 The Full Effect Bedford, England "Voyage to Atlantis" transformed a clear-span structure into a Nemoesque undersea world. Guests boarded the submarine Nautilus to explore the ocean depths. On surfacing, they were transported to an island, where they dined and were entertained by pirates and the crew of the Nautilus. The event ended with a victory of the Nautilus crew over the pirates, followed by a evening of dancing in a high-tech disco environment.

Best Theme Decor Budget Above $50,000 Masterpiece Productions Newport Beach, California Masterpiece Productions turned a series of tents into a European casino by painting the interior to look like the Hotel de Paris Casino in Monte Carlo. A false ceiling was made of artist's canvas, hand-painted in gold to resemble a coffered ceiling and stretched inside the canopy top. Recessed panels concealed the lighting and chandeliers hung to light the interior. Walls were upholstered in gold and green damask stretched on frames. Antique furnishings and accessories finished off the tent's interior.

Best Buffet Design John Daly Inc. International Santa Barbara, California To creatively focus on Provence-themed buffets, John Daly placed them in a French Provencal setting. A painted backdrop featured a field of sunflowers, while a three-dimensional facade of a village completed the setting. Four buffets featured two different treatments. One used terra-cotta tiles for tabletops and incorporated weathered local materials to provide texture and create levels for foodservice. The other featured tables dressed with traditional fabrics and harvest displays sculpted from fresh regional fruits and vegetables.

Best Tent Installation White House Staging & Production Mesa, Arizona White House custom-designed and built a multi-tiered, four-tent structure providing more than 13,000 square feet of luxury skybox space at the Phoenix Open. The interior was created with custom carpentry, including raised oak paneling, a three-sided oak bar and custom entertainment centers. Plush carpeting, accent rugs, leather living room suites and a pleated fabric tent liner completed the interior. Exterior features included decks and patios.

Best Invitation Arlene Segal Designs North Miami Beach, Florida A custom bat mitzvah invitation was themed "Butterfly Kisses." An extravagant, handmade butterfly net held a wrapped box that contained each invitation. The invitation was a jewel-studded, purple tulle and velvet butterfly. A mime dressed as a flower released 13 butterflies, as each guest was handed the butterfly net containing his or her invitation.

Tie: Best Us Of Lighting Images By Lighting Beverly Hills, California A residential motor court was transformed into the Hotel de Paris on Monaco Bay. To create the illusion, rippling wave effects in aquamarine and seafoam green were projected onto the surrounding architectural facades to represent the bay. Casinos constructed in tents on adjacent patios incorporated permanent lighting fixtures. Conventional lights were used in an unconventional way to make the fantasy come to life.

Tie: Best Us Of Lighting Designs by Sean Dania, Florida Hy-Lite Productions Palm Beach, Florida Lighting was the main ingredient to create a high-tech, futuristic look and to reduce a 138,000-square-foot space by more than half. The use of minimum props allowed the lighting effects to dominate the evening. Fabric screens of circular trusses, fabric tubes and a 35-foot white drape completed the mood of the room.

Best Balloon Creation John Daly Inc. International Santa Barbara, California Steve Kemble Event Design Dallas For a corporate awards ceremony, the nominees created a design using airsphere balloons imported from Germany and ranging in size from 8 inches to 19 feet in diameter. The balloons were suspended from the ceiling of the venue. The design, complete with music, movement and 14 lighting patterns that changed with the announcement of each award category, filled the 48,000-square-foot arena.

Best Achievement In Technical Support Classic Lighting Fleet Hampshire, England Bringing the 1997 Ryder Cup golf tournament into the homes of more than 700 million viewers was one of the challenges faced by Classic Lighting. Providers of all power and technical services to the event, Classic designed and installed a system and related equipment that would give 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to the media contingent at the tournament. Classic also provided a fully integrated technical services package to all VIP and sponsorship hospitality areas at the venue.

Best Achievement In Logistics Empire Force Events New York "Hong Kong Tai Chi in the Park" was a public event for the Hong Kong Tourist Association, launching its newest marketing campaign. The event brought together New York's tai chi practitioners and Hong Kong's master instructors in the ancient Chinese exercise art. State-of-the-art staging, signage, display and media presentations created an environment joining the natural surroundings of Central Park with the energy of New York City.

Best Event Photography Nadine Froger and Jean-Jacques Pochet Sherman Oaks, California Froger and Pochet were commissioned by John Daly Inc. International to document the gala night given by the Gillette Company for 1,000 guests at the Chateau de Chantilly outside Paris, France. The two photographers faced the use of various kinds of films, lights, cameras and flashes during rain, resulting in 12 hours of coverage.

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