Do you know what it means
To miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day?
Alter & DeLange

WE'RE so proud to present our Gala Award nominees in this issue. Turn to page 26, and you can see 35 categories' worth of talent. As it always does, reading the Gala entries shows me the incredible imagination and ingenuity it takes to stage special events.

Special event industry professionals in America's Gulf Coast region are going to need both those qualities to get their lives back together in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

We at Special Events have tried to help. Two days after Katrina made landfall, we created a free posting area on our Web site giving event pros a place to share job offers, offers of housing, and messages to find the missing and comfort the worried. The talented guys in our Web department turned the site into a blog, so now you can add your own postings and comment. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out at www.specialevents.com.

I'm also proud to say that the team at The Special Event, which takes place Jan. 10-13 in Dallas, is offering a free education package — an $810 value — to event pros who were directly in the disaster's path. To find out more, please visit the show Web site at www.thespecialeventshow.com.

Of course, all of us feel dwarfed in our efforts to bring the world back as it was. The losses have been too great.

Yet as humbled as I am by the magnitude of what happened, I am also humbled by the magnitude of spirit shown by the event pros in the midst of the mayhem. This month's issue, with its special focus on DMCs, also features an interview with Bonnie Boyd, whose DMC Bonnie Boyd & Co. has shared an insider's tour of that city's charms since 1992. A sixth-generation native, Bonnie demonstrates what it means to be a New Orleanian: It's a combination of strength, humor and determination. “It's a stick-to-itiveness,” she told me. “We ain't got no choice!”

Those characteristics enabled her to stage the first corporate event in New Orleans after Katrina. No one, it seems, assumed the event could take place there, its traditional site. No one except Bonnie Boyd. She found a way to make the event happen.

It's spirit like hers that will help bring New Orleans and other affected areas back. They won't be the same as what we lost. But as Bonnie explains, the devastation itself will “allow us to rebuild from the core, and hopefully everything that was ever wrong will get fixed.”

That's the special events spirit.