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Gayle and Tom Benson and party planner extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck did it again! They planned the party of the year for the New Orleans Pelicans NBA All-Star event at the Contemporary Arts Center. Gayle wanted to focus on the best that New Orleans and Louisiana had to offer by showcasing our cuisine, musicians, hospitality and over-the-top décor.

Susan Spicer catered the multi-course meal for NBA owners and executives at 6:30 p.m. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra played during dinner and the Bensons surprised guests with Grammy Award-winner Allen Toussaint!

After dinner, more than 200 guests joined 500 VIPs who arrived at 8:30 p.m., and were treated to the music of David Torkanowsky, The Hot 8 Brass Band and Trombone Shorty.
The concrete floors and walls of the CAC were completely transformed. Guests arrived on a red carpet flanked with palm trees and candles, and then entered a carpeted hallway complete with chandeliers, topiaries, Pelican team jersies, NBA memorabilia and their hosts.

Cocktails were served in the conservatory, a clear tent filled with tropical trees, chandeliers draped with flowers, Spanish moss, greenery, a huge painting of a replica of an Audubon pelican and sofas for guests on which to relax.

Guests then proceeded to the bar and music area where Bronson van Wyck added Murano chandeliers over tables blazing with hundreds of candles and extraordinary flowers. The VIP lounge was complete with tapestries and mirrors that van Wyck found at New Orleans Auction Galleries.

The pièce de résistance was the dinner served in a magnificent red paneled room that looked like you were in a castle! They added crown moulding, glittering chandeliers, oriental carpets and paintings on the walls, including many paintings of Pelicans. The tables were covered in silk cloths and filled with flowers in mint julep cups that included peonies, ranunculus, roses and orchids along with silver candelabra and candles everywhere.

Gayle and van Wyck collaborated on every aspect of the party and they succeeded in creating a wonderland for everyone to enjoy.

How lucky we are to have Tom and Gayle Benson here in New Orleans as ambassadors to the world in showcasing our incredible city!