GALVESTON — When billionaire Tilman Fertitta and wife Paige throw a party, the riotous fun is all but guaranteed. Case in point, Friday night's San Luis Salute to Mardi Gras that saw 1,600 revelers pack the lavishly-decorated San Luis convention center.
Two rocking bands, free-flowing Veuve Clicquot, Vegas showgirls and Cirque du Soleil style acrobats infused the night with more energy than the island sees all year long.
"This is great to do something like this in Galveston," Fertitta said. "And thank God that I have the assets to be able do it. This makes it so glamorous. You could really be anywhere. This is as fun as if you were in Monaco."
The glamour began early in the evening for VIPs who were transported via police-escorted caravan to Pier 21 where the Landry's Inc. CEO hosted a champagne-laced cocktail party. The Fertittas' 164-foot yacht, The Boardwalk, was anchored alongside the clear party tent which was decorated in crystal chandeliers and lavish floral arrangements.
"It's a great time. You've got all these beautiful duchesses and it's just great to be a part of it. "
"It's a great time. You've got all these beautiful duchesses and it's just great to be a part of it," Fertitta said, as the Knights of Momus duchesses and their dates partied on all levels of the yacht.
Back at the convention center, the Shanghai-themed bash was well under way with The A-Town A-List Band belting out dance tunes that kept the dance floor packed throughout the three-course lobster and filet mignon dinner. The top shelf wines and liquors — Jordan, Absolute, Veuve — on every table fueled the enthusiasm.
The party action paused only briefly for the Royal Promenade of the Knights of Momus entourage and VIP guests that included retired astronaut Mark Kelly and former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Maria and Neil Bush, Rachel and Jeff Bagwell and State Senators John Whitmire, Rodney Ellis and Larry Taylor.
Giffords was doing well, walking on her own, very much in the Mardi Gras spirit and even took a brief spin on the dance floor with her husband.
The evening grossed $600,000 for the National Biocontainment Training Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch and honored its doctors — Dr. Alan Barrett, Dr. Thomas Geisbert, Dr. Thomas Ksiazek, Dr. James Le Duc and Dr. Scott Weaver. Also honored was NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who departs next month for a year-long tenure aboard the space station.
Sister Sledge was the surprise entertainment, inspiring a dance fever so intense that every free space in the ballroom pulsated with juking and jiving merrymakers.
The Fertitta family was well represented with Tilman and Paige's children — Michael, Patrick and Blayne — joining the party as well as Tilman's parents, Joy and Vic Fertitta.
The partying throng included Dianne and Ed McDonough, Dancie and Jim Ware, Diane Lokey Farb, Mark Sullivan, Laura and Dave Ward, Brenda and Tom Koch, Vicki West, Tara and David Wuthrich, Carter Ware, Lane Ware, Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gilliard, Libbie and Bill Ansell, Susan and Dick Hansen, Ellie and Michael Francisco and Kevin and Francie Moody Dahlberg.