Balmy weather, a busy show floor and packed events greeted event planners at The Special Event 2009, which ran Jan. 27-30 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The show started early with "TSE Gives Back," a volunteer event on Monday, Jan. 26, which saw nearly 50 participants refurbish parts of San Diego's Fletcher Elementary School, including planting a garden for the children. The young students showed their gratitude on Wednesday at the show's Opening General Session by taking the stage to perform the "Tooty Tah," their exercise song and dance, for attendees who danced and sang along.

Tuesday saw the beginning of the education sessions in seven tracks, including sales and marketing, design, weddings and event management. A special master's program, on Jan. 29, offered sessions for event pros with long tenures in the business. The day concluded with the first of TSE's social events, the "TSE Starts Here" party at San Diego's chic night spot Stingaree, where guests enjoyed cocktails, canap├ęs and the chance to mingle.

WEDDING BELLES

Besides the Opening General Session, Wednesday's event slate also included the Wedding Luncheon, held at the trendy Hard Rock Hotel. The sold-out event treated guests to a dazzling array of tabletops, room environments and wedding cakes, which ranged from elegant to fanciful.

That night, show-goers joined in the lively scene at On Broadway, where the Welcome Event, co-sponsored by NACE, offered a wide array of caterers showcasing their specialties as well as unique performers including a contortionist balancing lighted candles.

MEET THE MASTERS

At the Master's Brunch, a new event this year, the chic Ivy Hotel was the setting for a candid interview by event veteran Patti Roscoe (at left), of Allied International and founder of PRA Destination Management, with event producer extraordinaire Liz Warwick. Warwick reviewed her event career, which has taken her from the Olympics to Coca-Cola to consulting, and offered tips ranging from writing effective proposals to charting one's own career.

Thursday ended with the traditional SEARCH fundraiser, again at On Broadway, which raised funds for event professionals in need.

On all show days, attendees had the chance to visit the sold-out exhibit floor, which featured products and services designed to help event professionals deliver exciting, cost-effective special events. A highlight of the show floor was the annual Tabletop Gallery competition, which showcased 10 finalists offering distinctive, imaginative tabletops. As selected by members of the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board, the winners were "The Beauty of the Ocean Breeze" from Chameleon Chair, Hawthorne, Calif., and Wildflower Linen, Anaheim Hills, Calif. (Tabletops Under $1,000 Each) (photo at right), and "Pompadour 2010" by Robert Fountain Event Design, San Francisco (Tabletops $1,000 Each and Above) (photo below).

TSE concluded Friday night with the Gala Awards and Celebration, honoring this year's Gala Award winners, at the convention center.

For a complete wrap of TSE 2009, see the April issue of Special Events.

The Special Event 2010 runs Jan. 13-15 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Photos by Special Events Magazine

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