As is tradition at the annual Houston Police Foundation fundraiser, most often held on the grounds of billionaire Tilman Fertitta's River Oaks home, there is gunfire, a ruthless crime, bad guys, good guys and fireworks. And, yes, it was all in the script for Saturday night's record bash.
Just as the 850 supporters were digging into their grilled lobster, suckling pig and Tex-Mex fare from Landry's Inc., a helicopter soared overhead and landed as James Bond in white dinner jacket disembarked and headed for the party scene where he encountered various villains. The shenanigans went on as James Bond themes provided background music. After all, the theme was "License To Thrill, A True Blue Evening."
Guests tried their hand at the shooting range where they encountered M16 short nose rifles, Glock17s and MP40 submachine guns — blanks and soap bullets only.
Houston police — SWAT team and all — to the rescue with guns firing (blanks) and muscles in play. In setting the scene, let's just say that this was the safest venue in the country with dozens of police vehicles lining the streets, emergency lights flashing, and scores of police spread out across the vast acreage that slopes down to Buffalo Bayou.
In addition to dining under the stars, sup from the lavish buffet tables and sip from an abundance of liquid oases, guests tried their hand at the shooting range where they encountered M16 short nose rifles, Glock 17s and MP40 submachine guns — blanks and soap bullets only. They met police dogs, visited with officers (really sweet guys) and took advantage of photo opps with Bond girls in gilded bodysuits.
The evening, which honored Halliburton and CEO Dave Lesar, raised a record of more than $800,000 for much-needed equipment that is not in the HPD budget. As host Fertitta noted, 93 percent of the police budget goes to salary and benefits, leaving little for equipment and training. HPD chief Charles McClelland thanked the crowd for its support.
The night closed with a dazzling fireworks display choreographed to James Bond film theme songs.
It was a night to remember for guests who included dinner chair Laura Ward and emcee Dave Ward, foundation executive director Charlene Floyd, Katrina and Paul Somerville, Blake Tart III, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Carol and Mike Linn, Dancie Ware, Hannah and Cal McNair, Carolyn Farb and Lance Livingston and Darlene and Cappy Bisso.