On Thursday, Nov 2, 2006, Greensboro developer and real estate magnate Frank Auman managed to pull off what was, by far and without question, the greatest party in the history of human existence.
That is not an exaggeration or an exercise in hyperbole – it is instead a pure and simple statement of fact: Frank Auman’s giant 40th birthday party at Starmount Country Club was beyond perfect, and no party in the history of the world before or since has come close to matching it.
In a minute, I’ll tell you why I’m writing this column about it now.
As I wrote a decade ago about that party, “To call it scary perfect would be to damn it miserably with faint praise after what went on.”
If you think I’m joking, I can only say that every person who was there that I’ve talked to about it has told me that, for them, like me, it was not only the best party they’ve ever been to, it was also in their estimation the greatest party thrown anywhere ever.
You can also take as evidence for that claim the fact that it is now 10 years later and I’m still writing whole columns about it.
It’s hard to explain how perfectly everything came together that night and why it happened. Maybe it was the fact that it was 2006 and the economy was booming and no one had a care in the world, or maybe it was the fabulous life-sized ice sculptures of grand pianos or the giant champagne fountain, or maybe it was the incredible 13-piece band, Party on the Moon, flown in from Atlanta. Or perhaps it was the fact that the whole party was infused with Frank’s gregarious spirit, or maybe it was just some sort of unexplainable harmonious convergence that happened to magically hit from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, and Nov. 3, 2006 at Starmount Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina on planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy.
I can’t really explain how it happened and it would take a book rather than a column to describe the party, but I’ll give you a taste of it by telling you how it started for me.
The invitation for the Thursday night party that came in the mail stated a limo would pick me and a guest up and it said that anyone coming to the party would not be making it into work the next day.
The night of the party, as I approached the limo in my driveway, the driver handed me a glass of red wine before I got in. I didn’t ask for it – they just knew ahead of time that red wine was my drink of choice and so they had a glass of it ready for me as soon as I walked up.
And everything got much, much better as the night went on.
So why am I writing about that party this week, 10 years later? Well, it’s because we are now, in 2016, coming up on Frank Auman’s 50th birthday this November, and it hit me that this is the perfect opportunity for all of us, as an entire community, to come together and throw a giant party where we attempt to do the impossible: Put on a party even better than Frank Auman’s 2006 birthday party. It could be a signature achievement that simultaneously celebrates Frank and Greensboro and Guilford County and finally puts this city on the national map.
The number one rule for this party, one I want to help plan, is this: Money is no object. Look, if we think on a grand scale, somehow this will get paid for. I can’t say exactly how at this point but I do know for sure that Goethe said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
I realize it’s not going to come cheap to outdo Auman’s 2006 party. I’m proposing that the City of Greensboro chip in $5 million and Guilford County chip in another $5 million for starters, and then area developers collectively throw in a matching $10 million since they will benefit the most from all the national attention the party will bring. Trust me, if Greensboro throws a countywide party that is a celebration like none the world has ever seen, it will draw new business here like never before.
This area’s economic development officials are always trying to think of slogans for this area to use to promote itself, but I say let’s put on the most joyful spectacular blowout of all time and then we can truthfully label ourselves “Party City.” (I know we might get a little blowback from the area retail establishment that goes by that name, but, if push comes to shove, the city can just rezone all their store properties as residential and be done with them.)
After a lot of thought, I’ve decided we should have the grand gala downtown in LeBauer Park and Center City Park and everywhere for miles around there that will hold people.
I have a few other ideas about the party as well:
Everyone is invited. This time, everyone in Guilford County is invited. Not just 500 people, but 500,000.
Open bar all night long. All drinks are free for everyone and only top-shelf liquor is served. Everything is on the house.
Fly in the finest chefs from all over the world to provide every style of food. For instance, we will get General Tso himself to make the chicken. Everything is all you can eat, free for everyone there.
BIGGER ice sculptures: Why limit ice sculptures to those the size of grand pianos? One thing we should definitely have at this party is a giant ice sculpture of a penguin as tall as the Lincoln Financial Building. In fact, as a rule of thumb, whatever you are talking about with regard to this party, just supersize it.
Two bands are better than one. I remember, in 2006, Frank told me that he couldn’t decide between Party on the Moon or Sleeping Booty because both were phenomenal bands. In the end, he said, he decided to go with Party on the Moon simply because they weren’t local, so many people probably hadn’t seen them before. I say in 2016 we have both Party on the Moon and Sleeping Booty.
At midnight, a fleet of B-52 bombers releases balloons, confetti and party gifts on small parachutes over the crowd. The military will do stuff like this for a price and they enjoy it when they are able to make love not war.
An afterparty is critical to a good party. For the afterparty, the now empty B-52s, along with a fleet of local developers’ planes, fly everyone to St. Kitts for three days of more free drinks food and music. And don’t worry about missing work: No one will have to call in sick or come up with an excuse because the bosses won’t be at work either. They’ll also be drinking and dancing in St. Kitts.
Anyway, I’m just getting started. Don’t let my own suggestions limit your own thinking because, of course, the more ideas the better. Those are just a few ideas I’m throwing out to get the ball rolling.
Look, everyone has been thinking of ways to put Greensboro and Guilford County on the map and this is exactly how we do it. After November, when we try to sell a business on the idea of coming here, when we say, “Greensboro,” they will light up and ask, “Hey, aren’t you that place I read about that had the amazing party to end all parties with a building-sized ice sculpture of a giant penguin and a three-day afterparty in St. Kitts?
And they will be able to say, “One in the same – so do you want to bring your business here?”
And they will be like, “Do I want to put my business there!? Do I? Where do I sign?”
We’ll probably have a waiting list and we’ll be saying things like, “I’m sorry, Boeing, but we just don’t have room for you right now. You will have to build your new 797’s somewhere else.”
So get ready this November. If you’ve quit drinking, now is the time to start again. And don’t worry about transportation: If I don’t hear from you, a limo will show up at your door and the driver will have your drink of choice waiting for you. Regrets only.
So please put on your thinking caps and send your ideas to Scott@rhinotimes.com and I will see that they are included and listed in the city’s and county’s motion to spend the $10 million.
And please remember: Cost is no object. In fact, if you mention cost at any time you are automatically off the party planning committee, cheapskate.