April 23, 2014
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From the Editor: Meet Meredith Parsons

Our Marketing and Events Director knows how to make everyone feel great.

A Feel Good issue? How can I not present life force Meredith Parsons, our marketing director/ event planner, whose mission is to put you in that very mood all season long? See her in command as 400 people savor the ambiance at our oh-so-cool White Party at the Naples Botanical Garden. There she is staging our Fashion Fever party in a hangar at Naples Municipal Airport, with models sashaying in the latest styles and guests getting a walkthrough of a sleek jet parked nearby. And don’t miss the elegance and surprise she brings to our Men & Women of the Year events, where you might find a glorious ice sculpture at the dessert table or very tall centerpieces looking like martini glasses filled with orchids.

Glitter? Sure. But let’s go behind the scenes with Meredith to get some reality, too. Three hours before that White Party in April, the table with all the wine bottles collapsed, destroying a third of the supply. “I stepped aside for a moment to tell myself to stay cool,” Meredith says, and then she marshaled the forces for the cleanup, the hosing down and the resupply. Thirty minutes before the Face Awards event Gulfshore Business hosts with D’Latinos magazine, Meredith recalls, “The heel broke off my shoe. I ran to Waterside, got another pair and was back in time for the event. It helped that it was at the Waldorf, not too far away.” Other emergencies? In a shorthanded situation, she had to step in as a bartender for an At Home event at Galerie du Soleil in 2009, the first one she ever did for us. And then there was one of the Bachelor issue parties, where she had to come to the aid of one honoree suffering from too much liquid refreshment and then had to call security when two women got into a food fight.

But mostly there’s the joy of creating themes and putting them into play. “I go to various florists periodically to scout new ideas,” Meredith says. “A key to our chic look, too, is the trendy furniture I can get from Niche Event Rentals. Stuff like LED glow-in-the-dark lounge furniture and Spandex linens that give a sleek look to things.”

There’s also P’zazz Productions, which amps up the entertainment with stilt walkers, living table effects, acrobatic cube dancers and more. Naturally, the food must be outstanding, and Meredith recalls compliments for such offerings as the shrimp and grits dish at this year’s White Party and a dessert at a Forever Young gathering that presented homemade rice crispy treats on a stick dipped in liquid ice cream and frozen with liquid nitro.

Originally from Savannah, Ga., Meredith graduated from the University of Central Florida and came to us after a three-year run as marketing manager
of the Bonita Bay Group. She’s fiercely organized, planning eight events a year (for 250 to 400 guests per outing), usually working on four at a time. She
starts each one six months out and does most of this all on her own. The offcial demands notwithstanding, Meredith adds heart to what she does as well. Sadly, one of the 40-under-40 honorees for Gulfshore Business succumbed to cancer just before the event last year. Meredith was not only able to get the magazine to her before she passed away but also put together a video appreciation of her that brought down the house at the awards ceremony.

So, Meredith, what haven’t you created that you’re still spoiling to do? “I’d love to throw a party in a Casa bubble (no humidity, no pollen) and maybe do an event with an interactive video wall. Experiential is the way to go.” Stand back, Southwest Florida. Our (a)Lone Ranger is revving up and sure to give you many a great ride ahead.

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