Gabrielle Giffords, Olivia Munn, Instagram photo
Hillary Clinton, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly at the commissioning, Instagram photo
Tilman Fertitta, Commander Keith Woodley, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly
Jon Bon Jovi on stage at San Luis Rsort
Amiko Kauderer, Astronaut Scott Kelly, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
ane Poynter, Martha Handler, Claudia Kelly
Katie Couric, John Molner, Cindy Whitehead, Justin Miller
Michael Brown, Marilu Henner
Newman Arndt, Olivia Munn, Johnathon Arndt
Katie Couric, Dancie Ware
Tilman Fertitta, Joe Lockhart, Scott Kelly
The packed ballroom at the San Luis Resort
What’s a visit to Galveston without a party? Just ask billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who rolled out the red carpet for VIPs attending Saturday’s commissioning of the USS Gabrielle Giffords.
In his role as Commissioning Chairman of the battle ship, the entertainment czar hosted the tsunami of dignitaries on his yacht, The Boardwalk, and at his San Luis Resort for a lavish invitation-only Chairman’s Gala where he brought in Jon Bon Jovi for entertainment.
With VIPS — including former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Senator Hillary Clinton, Giffords and her husband retired astronaut Mark Kelly — in the mix along with Hollywood types and captains of industry, Fertitta was in his element.
The very important VIPs gathered early Friday evening for a champagne reception on Fertitta’s $40 million yacht along with broadcast journalist Katie Couric, NASA Astronaut and former US Navy Captain Scott Kelly, actress Marilu Henner, and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Guests then moved to the San Luis Resort for the gala where Fertitta’s team tastefully decorated the ballroom in great swaths of red, white and blue and where massive video screens handled taped remarks from former President Barack Obama and other video presentations.
The evening was actually a standing room only event with 700 guests grazing through lavish buffet stations before the program. Celebs in the mix included actress Olivia Munn, Jefferies Group CEO Rich Handler, California Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan, former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, jeweler Johnathon Arndt, and former Naval officer and granddaughter of President George H.W. Bush Marshall Bush Rossi, who brought greetings from the Bush presidential families.
“This is the honor of her life” Mark Kelly said of his wife on Friday. “We are excited for this and look forward to seeing this ship travel around the world to make us safer here at home.”
In her remarks on Saturday, Giffords, according to the Associated Press, told the sailors, “I thought of you in my darkest days, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the United States of America… You make me proud. You make America proud.”