Houston celebrated as a gateway to the world: It's flags, swords and bigwigs for this international gala
The national government would be wise to take a few cues from the bi-partisan spirit felt at the Houston Consular Ball. The event celebrated Houston’s Consular Corps, represented by the 92 countries that have consulates in the city, while highlighting Houston with the theme “Houston: Gateway to the World.”
It’s not easy to transform the vast non-descript concrete spaces of the George R. Brown Convention Center into a grand ballroom, much less the interior of an airplane, but as guests ascended the GRB, the gala decor didn’t disappoint.
Flags of the world served as colorful backdrops on each floor leading to the gala. Blue velvet curtains parted to reveal a ballroom that looked like the interior of an airplane with curved concave floor-to-ceiling video screens lining the walls.
The Consular Ball blended innovative decor with tradition, pomp and circumstance. Each consul general and guest were introduced by the evening’s host KHOU Channel 11’s Greg Hurst as they walked through Texas A&M’s Ross Volunteer Company saber arch salute. Leading the way was gala host Mayor Annise Parker, accompanied by her partner Kathy Hubbard. Serving as event chair was Ric Campo.
The Mayor's Office of Protocol and International Affairs and the newly formed Houston International Initiatives office created an elegant evening with video messages from former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Consul General of Italy Fabrizio Nava and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
The Mayor addressed the audience and invited guests to stand and join her for a champagne toast honoring the consulates. Parker informally mingled throughout the night, stopping to chat and pose for pictures.
The airplane theme really took flight during a video presentation on the curved walls and a video screen in front of the ballroom showcasing the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Port of Houston and other defining landmarks.
Even though the ball was formal and the dress code white-tie and decorations, the mood was lively. Between courses of cheeses, champagne mousse pate, herb-roasted tenderloin, pan-seared sea bass and chocolate caramel cake, gala-goers flowed from the tables to the silent auction and onto the dance floor where the Richard Brown Orchestra played all night.
The heady guest list was a potpourri of local, national and international names including Geoff Connor, Cammie Jones, Joanne King Herring, Honorary Consul General of Iceland Mica Mosbacher, Jorge Valdés, Patricia Nuñez, Rod Nelson, Stephanie Nelson, Renu and Suresh Khator, Jorge Valdés, Edward Sanchez and Kim Padgett.