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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