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EVENT REPORT

Outback Bowl Gridiron Gala Goes With Glow-In-the-Dark Theme

Photo: Tacy Briggs-Troncoso/MamaRazzi Foto

Neon lighting, glow-in-the-dark necklaces, and scantily clad dancers decorated with neon body paint filled Tampa’s A La Carte Event Pavilion Friday night for the Outback Bowl’s Gridiron Gala. More than 1,700 people attended the invitation-only cocktail party, including representatives from the bowl teams’ schools—Michigan State University and the University of Georgia—along with sponsors, members of the media, and local bowl supporters.

“It’s a challenge every year to come up with something different and new for a theme,” said Ashley McChesney, senior event planner at A La Carte Event Pavilion. “This is a fun party, so we try to think of something that’s not too serious. We’ve hosted a lot of events recently that have used the glow theme, so we decided to go with that.”

Two 14-foot-tall glow puppets from Event Show Productions greeted guests as they arrived at the party. Volunteers from the bowl’s hospitality committee handed out glow-in the-dark necklaces, bracelets, and LED-lighted rings to attendees to embellish their attire. Just inside the building, entertainers inside four neon-colored, life-size tubes directed guests toward the ballroom.  

To emphasize the neon accents, A La Carte’s designer, Corina Wian, used black linens throughout the room. The exception was the large bar in the middle of the room where neon spandex linens from ConceptBait Global Events and Floral Design Group shined under black lights. Dancers painted with glow-in-the-dark body paint performed on an 8- by 8-foot riser in the center of the bar and also on four smaller risers placed around the room. From above, two musicians played drums while suspended from the ceiling, and an acrobat performed in a large hanging hoop.  

The venue is owned by OSI Restaurant Partners, which also owns Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill. Each of those restaurant brands provided food for the party, while A La Carte’s catering staff created the desserts.  

Mercedes-Benz and MetLife were presenting sponsors for the gala.


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