News | Fertittas host over-the-top Mardi Gras gala

February 17, 2015

By Amber Elliott | Houston Chronicle 

Landry's Inc. billionaire CEO Tilman Fertitta and wife Paige Fertitta pulled out all the stops for their Mardi Gras gala, the San Luis Salute, one of Galveston's most-anticipated social soirees.

"All 1,600 tickets were sold before the invitations even went out - I'm honored to do my little party in Galveston," Fertitta said, standing in front of his yacht Friday evening. The bash, benefiting the National Biocontainment Training Center, grossed more than $600,000.

Vans transported VIP guests from the San Luis Resort to Pier 21 at dusk for a champagne reception under a crystal tent overlooking the harbor. The well-heeled partiers abandoned their shoes to explore the Fertittas' 164-foot yacht, Boardwalk. The 21 Knights of Momus duchesses swirled through the three-level, six-bedroom boat. Many had their pictures snapped wearing their Miwa Fashions ballgowns in front of a helicopter perched on the top deck.

After the haute happy hour, a police motorcade escorted the convoy to the San Luis Conference Center, where galagoers already were relishing the Shanghai-themed fete. Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats poured champagne while dangling from the ceiling. Attendees lined up to have their faces painted or pose with Mardi Gras props in photo booths.

Massive red curtains shielded the crimson ballroom from prying eyes. After the big reveal, Quaker City String Band welcomed patrons to the dance floor for the main event. Celebrations paused briefly as KTRK's Tom Koch and Bob Slovak introduced the royal procession, including honorees from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch: Alan Barrett,Thomas Geisbert, Thomas Ksiazek, James Le Duc and Scott Weaver NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and UTMB Ebola fighters also were part of the esteemed group.

In between courses and cocktails - bottles of vodka, tequila and wine topped each table - partygoers boogied to music from the A-Town A-List Band and surprise guest Sister Sledge.