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NYC & Company and I Love New York, the official tourism boards of the city and state, rolled out the red carpet with a slew of parties at quintessential New York venues for the 5,000 people attending the International Pow Wow, a five-day trade show at the Javits Center sponsored by the Travel Industry Association of America for foreign buyers of inbound travel to the United States, plus international and domestic media.
The festivities kicked off Tuesday night at the Museum of Modern Art, with a welcome event for media attendees sponsored by the museum, Gray Line, American Express, Loews Hotels, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. A program included remarks by some of the usual suspects—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYC & Company chairman Jonathan Tisch—and a performance by John Pizzarelli of a new song written by Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn to promote New York City tourism.
This was followed by drinks and a buffet dinner, served on the ground and second floors of the museum; the 700 guests also toured the museum’s exhibits at their leisure. Abigail Kirsch’s menu had a New York steakhouse theme with table-carved, aged sirloin beef; double-stuffed Yukon potatoes; onion rings; creamed spinach; and a chopped steakhouse salad. Desserts included cylindrical devil’s food and carrot cakes; the signature drink was a white cranberry juice cosmo.
Six pastry chefs from restaurants throughout the city recreated—in chocolate—famous landmarks, such as “Chococity Music Hall” by Martin Howard of Brasserie 8 1/2, and an “I Love New York” sign of black and white cookies from B. R. Guest. Other restaurants participating in the display were Bridgewaters; the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park; Water Club; and Tribeca Grill. S.I.R. did the audiovisual production for the program; Bridgehampton Florist provided hyacinth, tulip, and orchid plants; and Samantha Burwick of the museum’s special events department was MoMA’s liaison for the evening.
For Wednesday’s official opening night party—called Celebrate New York City—Glenn Mahoney, the director of special events for Tishman Speyer Properties at Rockefeller Center, organized a party for 5,000 guests with distinct sections representing all five boroughs of the city. Barbara Lorber, NYC & Company’s senior vice president of major events and promotions, spearheaded the event.
A large tent covered the rink in Rockefeller Plaza, where Mahoney wanted to create the impression of being on a Manhattan rooftop at sunset (complete with a water tower). With the help of Pro Systems, a film shot at sunset from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center (where the Top of the Rock observatories will reopen to the public this fall after being closed for decades) showing the city skyline fade from light to dark was projected against the tent. Also in the Manhattan section were Broadway performances on a stage near the statue of Prometheus.
On the concourse level was a 28-foot-high replica of the Staten Island Ferry and a seafood menu served as a culinary nod to that island. A recreation of Coney Island represented Brooklyn—complete with dunes formed with 20,000 pounds of sand and a boardwalk. And for Queens, a large scrim depicted the Unisphere, and bars were loaded with tennis balls to represent the U.S. Open. Taking a cue from geography, a carpet had fish shapes cut into it to represent the watery division between Queens and the Bronx, where the borough’s Italian Arthur Avenue district was a central theme, along with a recreated outfield of Yankee Stadium.
I Love New York’s event on Thursday night—meant to promote the state as a tourist destination—occupied the public spaces of the Time Warner Center. Food was everywhere, starting on the sidewalk outside, where RCano Events set up grills, with special permission from the city, to cook marinated flank steak, roast leg of lamb, and grilled chicken sausage. Inside was an assortment of New York state cheeses and wines from Finger Lakes, Long Island, and Hudson Valley Wineries. (Susan Wine of Vintage New York consulted on the wine service.)
And some of the center’s pricey restaurants served food, including chocolate bouchons from Bouchon Bakery, potato-crusted skate wings from chef Charlie Trotter (whose restaurant there is scheduled to open in the fall), chilled fruit soup and mushroom risotto cakes from Café Gray, and sushi rolls from Masa.
The 5,000 guests at the event were treated to big-band entertainment by the Mario DeSantis Orchestra from Syracuse (said to be one of Governor George Pataki’s favorites), and a dance performance provided by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Center’s retailers even got into the act: Aveda provided complimentary spa treatments, Davidoff offered cigar-rolling demonstrations, Sephora provided beauty treatments and henna tattooing, Thomas Pink served Hennessy X.O. cognac, and Inside CNN offered tours.
Jacqueline Rossow, NYC & Company director of board relations and development, and Peter Kohlman of PeKo Productions planned and produced the party.
Pow Wow closed Saturday night with a party for 5,000 on Ellis Island, designed to promote New York as the world’s second home. Guests traveled to and from the island on ferries provided by Circle Line, one of the event’s sponsors; others included American Express, Academy Bus, Great Performances, and the National Park Service.
The party’s theme was carried out through the cuisine and entertainment; performers booked by Steven Scott Productions, ranging from a Russian violinist (think Fiddler on the Roof) to a Chinese lion and dragon dancers, entertained all evening at the ferry pier in Battery Park, and everywhere on Ellis Island. Willie Colon and his salsa band also performed.
Guests found food and drinks inside the museum, as well as in a custom-built, 160- by 80-foot tent, with no interior poles, from Main Attractions, set up behind the museum. Great Performances' menu featured foods from around the world, including corned beef sandwiches from Ireland; vegetarian maki rolls from Japan; fish and chips in paper cups from England; pizzettas from Italy; empanadas and quesadillas from Mexico; and an international selection of hot dogs, including Hebrew National, bratwurst, saucissons, and sweet sausage and peppers. International cookies, including canolis and baklava, topped off the meal.
Planned by Carrie Karabelas, NYC & Company’s senior director of special projects and events, the evening concluded with a special fireworks display by the Gruccis.
—Jane L. Levere & Mark Mavrigian
Photo: Joe Vericker/PhotoBureau (Rockefeller Center)
Rockefeller Center's Glenn Mahoney
Rockefeller Center's Observatory to Reopen