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Professional Peeps


S.B. Event Pros’ Coming-Out Party

Last Thursday, the Santa Barbara Event Professionals had a coming-out party that doubled as a fundraiser for Sansum Diabetes Research Institute — and I knew better than to miss it; if anyone knows how to throw a party, my money’s on this group of pros, whose list of members reads like a who’s who of the Santa Barbara party planning industry. The recently formed group serves as a one-stop shop for anyone tasked with orchestrating an event; members include caterers, florists, photographers, venues, and entertainment, and what better way to announce their arrival on the scene than with an over-the-top party?

But as Thursday drew closer, I was a little worried for them — the soiree was going to be held at the Ty Warner Sea Center on Stearns Wharf, but by midweek, Santa Barbara had cleared more than five inches of rain, and it looked as though no end was in sight. To the great relief of all involved (and when I say great relief, I mean it; I was told that during a “dry” run on Wednesday, the tent they’d erected was blown down during a downpour), the rain was on hiatus for the big day.

I rolled up to the entrance and was immediately taken in by the sounds of drummers keeping time for a group of white-suited capoeira devotees that entertained the crowd as they checked in. The party’s theme was Cruise Around the World, and the SBEP hit it out of the park — between the food, the décor, and the entertainment, attendees (aided by a couple of cocktails) could be forgiven for expecting to find an extra stamp or two on their passports the next day.

I’d never been to the Sea Center before, but from what I’m told, the place had been transformed. Inside, there was a station serving up chow mein to my right, hula dancers to my left, and a bar straight ahead. I’ll leave it up to your imagination where I stopped first. Beyond the hula dancers was the requisite chocolate fountain, and several more food stations offering everything from fresh gazpacho to pulled pork sandwiches, to empanadas to couscous. Lining the pier-side perimeter were the items up for silent auction, and dancers from the local troupe Fusion were onstage, shimmying for the crowd. PR goddess Mo McFadden let me in on the fact that there was even more going on upstairs, so I made my way back in, but not before being stunned by the amazing, if decidedly creepy, card tricks perpetrated by magician Rich Ferguson. Upstairs, peeps were enjoying wine and cheese, and lining up to get their photos snapped by Get Flipped photographers, while watching the scene below.

Eventually, I wandered back outside, where I found Scott Topper who’d slaved for months to put the event together. He seemed relieved that it was all going off so well; although with such an all-star team of pros behind him, he needn’t have worried. It was an amazing success — and I should know. I’m a professional too, after all.



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