November 28, 2016: Met Gala Planner to Oversee Inauguration Events, Why Virtual Reality Isn’t an Immediate Consumer Hit, Inside the World’s Biggest Santa Convention

By Ian Zelaya November 28, 2016, 8:33 AM EST

1. MET GALA PLANNER TO OVERSEE INAUGURATION EVENTS: Met Gala planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff will help plan the presidential inauguration in January. Page Six: “Wolkoff, an ex-Vogue staffer who planned the glamorous gala for years and went on to orchestrate New York Fashion Week’s Lincoln Center expansion, is known in fashion circles as ‘General Winston’—a name bestowed by her mentor, Anna Wintour. Winston, who, according to sources, ‘has all the designers on speed dial’ and is also a longtime friend of Melania, was spotted at Trump Tower this week, along with Tom Barrack, who is chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. Sources say Wolkoff, who now runs SWW Creative, is a senior adviser to Barrack.”

2. WHY VIRTUAL REALITY ISN’T AN IMMEDIATE CONSUMER HIT: Virtual-reality systems from brands including Facebook, Sony, and PlayStation went on sale earlier this year, but it’s going to take a while before the products become a hit with consumers. The Wall Street Journal: “So, while VR has much in the way of long-term promise, early sales are providing a hard dose of reality. None of the companies involved have disclosed actual numbers, but several indications have emerged suggesting a relatively low sales volume to date. Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg characterized the launch of the Oculus Rift headset earlier in the year as a ‘slow start.’ … This doesn’t mean virtual reality isn’t generating significant interest. Retailer Best Buy said in its earnings call this month that more than 700 of its stores now have dedicated virtual reality “departments” that have provided more than 300,000 demos even before the holiday shopping crunch begins. Offsetting this is the fact that major videogame publishers haven’t really embraced virtual reality yet with their major franchises. And the category overall is having a tough year. U.S. sales of game hardware have totaled $1.9 billion for the year to date, which is down 23% from the same period last year, according to NPD. Nearly half of hardware sales typically take place in the final two months, and updated versions of the PlayStation and Xbox have recently launched. But even with a strong year-end boost, hardware sales for the year are still on track to fall under $4 billion in the U.S., which would be the lowest in more than a decade.”

3. INSIDE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SANTA CONVENTION: Discover Santa, a convention for professional Santas, surprisingly takes place in July in Missouri. Wired: “‘The beard is major,’ says Dina Litovsky, who learned more about St. Nick than she ever thought possible while photographing Discover Santa 2016, the world’s largest gathering of professional Santas. Some 750 impersonators descended on Branson, Missouri in July to learn, among many things, how to grow whiskers befitting the role. For five days, Kris Kringles attended workshops and panels covering everything from getting the best ruddy cheeks to calming crying kids. They browsed vendor booths offering the latest in walking sticks, cooling vests, and extravagant $1,000 Santa suits. They played softball at the Sno-lympics and enjoyed a little dinner theatre aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, where they set a record for ‘largest Santa jingle.’ Litovsky arrived just in time for the Parade of Red Suits, where Santas, joined by 250 Mrs. Clauses, elves, and reindeer, marched through an outdoor shopping mall before a sea of wide-eyed children. They wore robes more suited to an Arctic freeze than 90-degree temperatures, but smiled through their sweat as they flung fake snow at the crowd.”


ATLANTA:  This year’s Children’s Christmas Parade, benefitting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, will take place Saturday on Peachtree Street in Midtown. 

AUSTIN:  The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar will take place December 14-24 at the Palmer Events Center.

CHICAGO:  Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier will run December 1-January 8.

LOS ANGELES:  TimeOut’s second annual Mac and Cheese Smackdown will take place Sunday at the Bank of American Center Plaza. The event will have local restaurants showcasing creative takes on mac 'n' cheese. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

NEW YORK:  Networking conference “Keynotes and Cocktails: Women of New York” will take place December 6 at the Paley Center. The event will feature speakers including Nurse Jackie producer Caryn Mandabach and MTV Networks boss Judy McGrath. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  Family entertainment center GameTime will open a 35,000-square-foot location at One Daytona. Orlando Business Journal:

PHILADELPHIA:  The 2017 Philadelphia Auto Show will take place January 28-February 5 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

SAN FRANCISCO:  The Run Wild San(ta) Francisco—“The Santa Hat Race” 5K run/walk will take place Sunday at Crissy Field. 

TORONTO:  Telus’s Spectrum Ontario holiday fund-raiser, which benefits L.G.B.T. community development program Supporting Our Youth, will take place December 8 at Telus House Toronto Hosting Centre.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Carla Hay, Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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