Published: Jan 08, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 08, 2013 06:07 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Nothing could be finer for a local party planner than giving North Carolinas new governor a few laughs and a lot of homegrown fun.
RSVP Events owner Sharon Heath-Riley said she and her six-member staff have learned to plan, and then plan some more, to pull off the perfect party. Their work is cut out for them this week, as they finalize the details for an inaugural cocktail party Saturday celebrating Gov. Pat McCrory and First Lady Ann McCrory at the Raleigh Convention Center.
No matter how many plans you put in place, theres going to be one small something thats going to throw it off just a little bit, Heath-Riley said.
They started looking for ideas around Christmas and will pull it all together Saturday afternoon. About 30 part-time staff members, 15 vendors and their employees will take more than 1,500 guests on a whirlwind tour of the states diversity.
Guests will wander past the peaks and falling water of the Blue Ridge Mountains, listening to The Blue Dogs, and then mingle around the Piedmont, where theyll taste and vote on their favorite barbecue. Nearby, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will guide guests to crabcakes, while they listen to the Chairmen of the Board.
The event is privately funded by the Foundation for North Carolina, a nonprofit political group co-founded by McCrory campaign strategist Jack Hawke, and follows Fridays more traditional Junior League of Raleigh inaugural ball. The dual events have raised concerns that less money could go to the leagues community programs.
Heath-Riley said money and politics are not her concern. She declined to say how much the party would cost.
I think it really is about bringing all North Carolinians together, no matter who you are, she said.
The Cedar Grove native started RSVP Events in 1987 in Research Triangle Park. It now operates from a house formerly owned by her husbands grandmother in western Orange County.
Heath-Riley said a career throwing parties never crossed her mind while she was studying to be a city planner at East Carolina University. She was working as a receptionist when the first event for 30,000 people literally landed on her desk. RSVP now counts Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and academic institutions among its clients. About 90 percent of their business is repeat or referral, she said. Thats how they landed the governors party.
But nonprofit events are the most rewarding because they bring people from all walks together and give families a break from illness, she said.
We make people happy. When you can make people happy, thats when you realize that what I do is worthwhile, she said.