As this issue goes to press, we are in Gala Award madness. Our offices are overflowing with entries ranging from corporate product launches to bar mitzvahs to a celebration honoring the 60th year on the throne for a Southeast Asian monarch. Look for a list of the nominees in our December issue, and you can cheer for the winners at the Gala Awards, Jan. 12 at The Special Event in Los Angeles.

One Gala Award category we dropped a few years ago — and one I miss — is Best Corporate/Company Picnic. Every year, we get requests to add new categories, so we look long and hard at categories that don't pull in many entries. The “Picnic” category has faced a wave of challenges in the last few years, from shrinking corporate budgets to frantic families too busy for yet another commitment. With only a handful of entries coming in, we reluctantly eliminated the category from the competition.

And that's sad. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when my family attended my husband's company picnic. Hats off to Eventmakers of Toluca Lake, Calif., who helped my husband's employer turn rustic Saddle Rock Ranch, in the hills above Malibu, Calif., into a circus. My five-year-old twins were enchanted with the carnival games. Grandparents watched the sun set while sipping a glass of wine. The party animals danced. The teenagers even managed to suspend their ennui for a moment.

The picnic reminded me that even in multiethnic, multi-everything Los Angeles, we have more in common with each other than we often think. Everyone is amazed that the baby from last year is racing across the lawn now. We exclaim how your little girl in braces turned overnight into a lovely young lady. The women bemoan the extra five pounds that have crept on, while the men are kidded about the relentless pace at which their hairline is receding.

The company picnic is another example of what special events do that is so important: They touch our hearts, enriching us with moving experiences that we treasure.

And speaking of other things that touch my heart, Lisa Perrin is moving on after nearly 21 years with Special Events Magazine. She has played a vital role in the growth not only of our magazine, which has expanded to include The Special Event conference, our Web site and our e-newsletter, but also the special event profession itself. I was proud to be in the audience at the Dallas Women's Museum luncheon during The Special Event in January when she was presented with the Steve Kemble Leadership Foundation Award. I'd give her my own award, for being a wonderful boss, colleague and friend.