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Gasparilla signs on with spinoff of current planner

TAMPA — For nearly 20 years, the party-planning company EventMakers has handled organization of the annual Gasparilla parade and pirate fest.

That's about to change.

EventFest, a company launched in April by Darrell Stefany, the son of EventMakers' founder Barbara Stefany, will plan the celebration this year.

The younger Stefany, formerly president of EventMakers, has overseen Gasparilla planning for years, said his mother, and that amounted to a full-time job.

Meanwhile, the company's portfolio of clients for corporate events and product promotions also has grown.

"We've been operating two divisions for a long time," Stefany said. "Now the two divisions are each strong enough to stand on their own feet."

EventFest will also take over planning of the Children's Gasparilla Parade.

Kristin Stefany, Darrell's younger sister, has been promoted to president of EventMakers.

Jim Robbins, captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the men's club that hosts the parade, said eventgoers shouldn't notice any difference.

"It's been assured by Darrell we're going to enjoy the same great relationship we've had in the past, and we won't miss a beat going forward," Robbins said.

Robbins said the Krewe agreed to a multiyear contract with EventFest.

Formerly a director of a school for the deaf, Barbara Stefany founded EventMakers in 1982. One of her first projects was coordinating the grand opening of Harbour Island. The company also produced grand openings for the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Convention Center and International Plaza. Corporate clients have included Google, Target and Walt Disney World, Stefany said.

She said it was inevitable that her son would spin off with his own company.

"It's an exciting opportunity for Darrell, and it's an exciting opportunity for his sister," she said. "As in anything, you have to wait until the timing is there. The timing is there."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Gasparilla signs on with spinoff of current planner 06/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 11:53pm]
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