December 4, 2014: Protesters Gather at Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, Microsoft Annual Meeting Addresses Diversity, Memphis Finds Solution for Abandoned Pyramid Venue

By Beth Kormanik December 4, 2014, 8:04 AM EST

1. PROTESTERS GATHER AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING: Mariah Carey and Cyndi Lauper were among the performers at the lighting of the Christmas tree in New York’s Rockefeller Center Wednesday. But the event was tense after Mayor Bill de Blasio cancelled his appearance and protesters swarmed the area following a local grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Security at the event kept the holiday tradition running smoothly. Associated Press: “There was heavy police presence as hundreds of protesters gathered behind rows of barricades on Fifth Avenue within sight of the holiday revelers.”

2. MICROSOFT ANNUAL MEETING ADDRESSES DIVERSITY: As critics pressure the tech industry over its lack of diversity, Microsoft used the occasion of its annual meeting Wednesday to address the issue. Fortune: “Prior to the shareholder voting, Jesse Jackson took the stage to address shareholders about the need for ongoing diversity initiatives: the tech industry ‘does not look like America,’ he said, and asked the company to step up its efforts to create a more diverse workforce.”

3. MEMPHIS FINDS SOLUTION FOR ABANDONED PYRAMID VENUE: Once a professional sports arena but now an embarrassing eyesore, the Pyramid in Memphis has a new life planned as a retail complex for Bass Pro Shops. The New York Times: “As for the new theme, think Disneyland in a duck blind. The 535,000 square feet of interior space at the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid—as the site will be called—will feature shooting and archery ranges, a bowling alley built to seem as though it is underwater, a 100-room hotel with lodging designed to look like cabins in a cypress swamp, and an observation deck patterned after the Grand Canyon skywalk. There will be aquariums stocked with 1,800 fish, a conservation-themed ‘waterfowling heritage center’ and pools slithering with live alligators.”


BOSTON:  Serafina, an Italian restaurant chain, will open its first Boston location in January. Located in the financial district, the restaurant will have three private dining rooms and will serve items such as thin-crust pizzas. 

CHICAGO:  Highsight’s 21st annual Eve of the Eve fund-raiser will take place at Union Station on December 30. The event will offer cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a live band, and a DJ; some 2,000 guests are expected.

LAS VEGAS:  Country stars Reba McEntire, Kix Brooks, and Ronnie Dunn announced a series of joint concerts at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The show, Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together in Vegas, opens June 24. Tickets go on sale today, and group rates are available.

LOS ANGELES:  The new one-hour entertainment special “A Very Grammy Christmas” added Sam Smith and Big Sean to its lineup of performers. The event will air Friday on CBS.

Jennifer Coolidge will host TrevorLIVE Los Angeles on Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium. The event benefits the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to L.G.B.T.Q. youth.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The National YoungArts Foundation will host its annual Backyard Ball on January 10 on the YoungArts Campus. The event will honor artist Jeff Koons and two of its alumni, singers Josh Groban and Chris Young.

Bill Hansen of Bill Hansen Luxury Catering and Event Production hosted a benefit event with 40 of his students from Florida International University Wednesday at the Biscayne Bay campus's Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab. The evening raised money to feed impoverished children in Haiti.

B Hotels & Resorts has converted the former Yankee Clipper Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel into the B Ocean Resort. The property, which has 286 guest rooms and 7,500 square feet of meeting and event space, will undergo a renovation scheduled to start in mid-2015.

PGA National Resort & Spa has appointed Sean McKee is its new executive chef.

NEW YORK:  Happy Ending, a restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Francis Gabarrus, has opened in SoHo. The French comfort food restaurant seats 220.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

ORLANDO:  Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando will open its expanded meeting space next fall, and the hotel is offering incentives to planners who book events in the new space by mid-February. New programs to be held October 1-December 20, 2015, will receive a 3 percent rebate on room revenue, an opening reception with one hour of complimentary beer and wine, a 20 percent discount on audiovisual equipment, and triple rewards points.

TORONTO:  The Windsor Arms Hotel will host an opening party for its new vintage store, Treasure’s Chest, on December 10. The opening party will offer snacks and cocktails made with Johnnie Walker Black.

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Tudor Place Sparkles for Christmas, a holiday installation at Tudor Place Hhistoric House and Garden, is tonight. The ticketed event features elaborate holiday decor and food and beverages.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Anna Sekula in New York.

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