By Jana Schiowitz Posted August 4, 2011, 4:00 PM EDT
MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA Zo's Summer Groove Benefit Dinner and Gala, part of the five-day fund-raiser benefiting Alonzo Mourning Charities' the Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine Mentoring Program, switched things up this year by opening the event to the public for the concert portion of the night for the first time. Held once again in Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, the event this year drew headliners Alicia Keys, Cee Lo Green, and comedian Carlos Mencia. After a wobbly performance the previous night at the event's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Comedy Show, Dave Chappelle made a special appearance onstage at the dinner and gala.
Open-to-the-public tickets started at $65 for seating in the lower levels and $45 for the upper levels of Hard Rock Live. Sponsored by Publix, Carnival Corporation, and Grey Goose, the event sold out, with some 4,000 guests in attendance. Zakarin Martinez Public Relations had aggressive outreach prior to the event, reaching out to entertainment, community, and education editors to promote the event. “Comedy, entertainment, urban community, African-American groups and outlets, and local Miami-Dade media was also a strategy to get added coverage and increase ticket sales for the events,” said a spokesperson for Zakarin.
In previous years, the venue was decorated with suspended fabric hung from the rafters covering unused upper-level seating areas. But with the public filling those seats this year, the draping needed to be minimal so as not to block sight lines. “The biggest change this year was that the gala and dinner turned into a full concert at 8:30 p.m. that was opened to the public, so there were limitations on what could be draped from the ceiling,” said Monique Gonzalez of MMG, which produced the July 23 event.
Producers placed tiny, white LED lights on each armrest of the 4,000 available seats, to give guests the impression that they were under a starry night. To mark the event's 15th anniversary and because 15 is the crystal anniversary, the decor included sparkling elements with punches of purple and silver. Lit trees covered in crystal beads and entertainers dressed in silver and crystal stood throughout the room. Auctioned items included shiny guitars dubbed as centerpieces.
The weekend of events raised more than $600,000.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct pricing for seating at the concert portion of the event.