When Chuck invited us to Al’s Surprise 50th birthday celebration we knew it was going to be over the top fun, but never thought it would turn out to be such a magical adventure, too! The newly delivered bus from Europe (with that new bus smell) picked up the entertainers, family and guests up at G.BAR in GaYBOR around 4 pm. We arrived at the gates of the festive Sawmill Campgrounds and met up with a large group of campground residents and visitors and started to get ready for the surprise. Chuck had arranged to have a horse pull a funeral carriage with a coffin containing Al’s youth!
Mrs. So-fonda-coks was here in full mourning and crying her poor eyes out. The Rolls Royce golf cart appeared with Al and he was truly shocked and surprised by this incredible scene! There were mourners dressed in black, parasols, umbrellas and beads being tossed everywhere. The coffin was removed by two underdressed gentlemen and placed in front of his crypt! Al and Chuck then declared, “Let the party begin!” On every table were stacks of tiaras, crowns, beads and feather boas. Campground Decorator Joey D did a great job of setting this party up! Inside was a New Orleans feast with everything you could imagine: gumbo, jambalaya, the best ever southern fried chicken, red beans and rice, crab cakes and so much more. Tom, the chef at Woody’s, was overseeing all the catered festivities. Around 8 pm the pallbearers took the casket into the crypt as we all said our final goodbye to Al’s youth! Our group plus campground friends boarded the bus and were off to a secret undisclosed destination. On the bus ride Al announced that it was also his and Chuck’s 23rd anniversary! To everybody’s delight the bus turned on 7th Ave in GaYBOR, heading toward a private party in the dance club side of G.BAR. Set designer Mathieu Stanovic had recreated an adult rainforest cafe look and feel with trees, lavish flowers, greenery, vines, bright colors and life everywhere.
There were 8 very handsome swank servers walking around with trays of cocktails, chocolates and hors d’ oeuvres. Up in the DJ booth was none other than resident VJ Greg Anderson! We were on our second cocktail and having the time of our life when somebody walked out from backstage singing “Happy Birthday” to Al. Everybody turned and to all our surprise it was international singing diva FRENCHIE DAVIS in person! Chuck had Al’s favorite performer flown in for this private concert! Frenchie performed 3 of her #1 hits and a new, soon to be released song too, then mixed with the guests. The party continued until about 11 pm then the club was opened up to the general public. Al’s group danced the night away up until 3 am. Many of the guests spent the night at the Hampton Inn Ybor just 1 block away. Thank you, Chuck and Al, for memories that will truly last a lifetime! And happy birthday!
Congratulations to Manny Alvarez on opening the new Channelside Club AJA on August 1st!
We were at the newly opened BRICKS on 7th in Ybor City and the crowd was huge, the servers were friendly and the Portobello sandwich was WOW! Really a place full of art, culture and x-gen menu.