Emirates bash celebrates Chicago route with surprise guest

The Red Carpet snaked all along the side of Navy Pier and into the Grand Ballroom for the hotly anticipated Emirates gala celebrating the launch of its daily, nonstop service to Chicago that began on August 5.  Emirates Executive Vice President and COO Adel Al Redha and Chicago Deputy Mayor Steven Koch were joined by more than 500 guests to commemorate the opening of Emirates' ninth U.S. gateway.

Partygoers were greeted by beautiful Emirates cabin crew members and treated to cold hand towels, traditional dates, Arabic coffee, cocktails and canapes plus music by Chicago's Jazz Couture during the cocktail reception.  Photogs snapped pics as guests mixed and mingled before the doors opened to the Grand Ballroom.

Brittney Payton, the daughter of the late, great Walter Payton, served as emcee for this night that also included performances by electric violin troupe Ken Arlen's Sirens (Their rendition of "We Will Rock You" was a hit with the crowd).  After a video presentation showcasing Emirates' award-winning service, Adel Al Redha, offered opening remarks.  Deputy Mayor Koch welcomed Emirates and spoke about Mayor Emanuel's strategy and plans to make Chicago a top global city.

After attendees enjoyed a lavish dinner --poached lobster starter, filet with veggie medley and roasted potatoes, and a trio of tempting desserts--the surprise guest was announced.  Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe Award winning artist Lionel Richie performed hit after hit for an excited crowd, including "Hello", "You Are", "Dancing on the Ceiling' and more.  He was a very generous performer taking selfies with almost anyone who had an Iphone!  He ended the night with fans surrounding the stage dancing and singing to "All Night Long".

On August 5, Emirates held a ceremony at O'Hare Airport to mark the arrival of the first Dubai-Chicago flight.  The aircraft was welcomed with a traditional water cannon salute and gift exchange between Emirates executives and Chicago public officials.  Luxury travel blogger and Mumbai native, Riaan George, was on the flight and described it as "long, but breathtaking and luxurious".

What a great party to welcome this award-winning airline to the Windy City!

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