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The Denim & Diamonds Gala Returns To Rave Reviews and A Staggering Turnout

Wellington, Florida - February 17, 2004 -- Resurrected after a four-year hiatus, The Denim & Diamonds Gala returned in all of its glory this past Sunday, February 15, 2004, at The South Florida Fairgrounds to over 2,000 ecstatic fans and a groundswell of enthusiastic praise. Last held in 2000, Denim & Diamonds is the largest, single fundraiser for The United States Equestrian Team ("USET").

Chairmen Mason Phelps, Jr. and Beverly Lake Wilkes, motivated by overwhelming demand within the equestrian community, decided the time was right to bring back the event given the upcoming Athens Games and the USET's Olympic aspirations. During the Gala's successful, prior six-year run, Phelps and Wilkes raised over $1 million for the USET.

The Gala's theme, "Denim & Diamonds: Back to the Future", was brought to life by event-planner extraordinaire Bruce Sutka. Partiers were first taken on a journey back in time to the prior Olympic cities of Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Moscow, with authentic area cuisine and décor, plus performers in ethnic costume. A high-end silent auction containing, among other things, vintage cars, motorcycles and expensive bijoux, provided a shopping oasis with serenades from The Wailing Aztecs.

Then, following a winged Pegasus, the crowd was fast-forwarded into the future of Athens, summer 2004. Once in Athens, the stage was set for a festive evening, a la maniere grecque: trapezists suspended from the ceiling by gauzy, white fabrics; wandering mythological figures; Grecian décor replete with columns and statuaries; and a cornucopia of traditional Greek cuisine. Elite equestrians from the disciplines of jumpers, three-day eventing and polo, whose training expertise was thereafter auctioned off, arrived in grand style in a chariot drawn by two magnificent and matching white horses.

And then there was the headlining entertainment, which brought everyone to their feet and out onto the dance floor! First, eight-time Grammy Award-winner Chaka Khan rocked the house with her blend of rhythm & blues, jazz, pop, fusion and funk. Bjorn Again, the ever-popular ABBA tribute group, kept the crowd dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

While all of the numbers have not been tabulated, preliminary indications are that the Gala earned a record-setting amount for the USET.

For further information, please contact Mason Phelps, Jr. or Beverly Lake Wilkes at 561-753-3389.


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