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NEW YORK More than 325 ambassadors and other guests donned black tie togs for the annual United Nations Ambassadors Ball, hosted by the Hospitality Committee for the United Nations Delegations at the Pierre. It was a stellar turnout, considering that the recent postal problems in New York City prevented a number of response cards from being received and returned. Of course, one explanation for the turnout could have been the guests of honor: secretary general Kofi Annan (who was ultimately unable to attend) and his wife, Nane. Another may have been the fact that this year's event raised money for the victims of the World Trade Center attack, in addition to funding the hospitality committee's future events.
With those two enticements, however, came challenges for Shana Fried, the hospitality committee's administrative director and the special events coordinator for the ball. “The difficulty is planning something like this in a time where people are being more conservative in terms of how much money they're donating and how social they're being,” she says. Among the guests were several representatives from Pasterra Inc., a Japan-based company and U.N. benefactor.
Safety was also a concern for some guests, but the hotel provided security, and many people, including Mrs. Annan, newly appointed U.S. ambassador John Negroponte, and former ambassador Thomas Pickering, were being protected by Secret Service Agents. “They just required a timeline of the evening, as well as a quick briefing of any entrances and exits, and the seating chart. It really wasn't that difficult,” Fried said. Slightly more tricky was the protocol for seating arrangements. For that, the hospitality committee consulted with protocol officers at the UN But once everyone was seated in their appropriate places, guests dined on lamb chops, danced to Sinatra songs, and bid on items ranging from a Piaget watch to a Daum crystal vase during the live auction.