2016 Consular Ball: “Champions in the Global Arena”
2016 was great year for Houston’s international sports scene. The Astros stepped up to the plate in Mexico City for the first time, followed by the Texans playing the Raiders there some months later. Our native Houstonian star, Simone Biles, broke the record for most Olympic gold medals in women’s gymnastics while competing in Rio de Janerro. Houston was selected as the site for two of the Copa America Centenario games, including one semi-final. And, as we prepare for Super Bowl LI in February, 2017, the eyes of the world have turned towards our city. In view of these and other major Houston sporting events, Mayor Turner thought it appropriate to make the theme of the 2016 consular ball reflect the diplomatic power of sports, presenting our city and it’s residents as “Champion in the Global Arena.”
“As Houstonians, we understand why sports are such a captivating medium,” said Mayor Turner in his speech. “We share those values of hard work and effort, and through them we have transformed our city from a town on the Bayou to a global capital of industry and culture- home to NASA, the Texas Medical Center, and over 1.5 million foreign-born residents from all over the world. Together, we, the people of Houston, are a team – one that is made strong by the diversity and internationalism of its players.”
For over sixty years, the consular ball has been the pinnacle of international events in Houston, honoring the 91 members of Houston’s Consular Corps, the 3rd largest consular corps in the nation, and serving as the city’s premier white tie gala. Amidst a room filled with Houston’s top business, political and cultural leaders, consular heads of post in full diplomatic regalia marched down a red carpet through a saber arch, followed thereafter by a US color guard. The event is not only a moment to recognize these important individuals who contribute so much to our internationally focused and diverse city, but also to provide an unparalleled networking opportunity, with the intention of further developing Houston’s international business, culture, and diplomatic exchanges.
As an administration that celebrates and encourages diversity and inclusion, the Mayor’s Office looks forward to hosting the consular ball, as a means to further engage the international community, promote useful exchanges, and help Houston continue to develop as a global city.
This year, attendees included representatives from over 30 companies and organizations heavily invested in Houston’s international development, such as Visit Houston, Houston First, Chevron, the Texas Medical Center, Noble Energy, and all of Houston’s major sports teams. Given the ball’s theme, the Mayor recognized several prominent Houstonian athletes in attendance as the city’s “Sports Ambassadors,” including NBA All Star Tracy McGrady, Olympians Zina Garrison and Timothy Wang, and renowned tennis player, Lori McNeil.
Though 2016 has been a great year for sports and a great year for international diplomacy, we expect greater things to come. We look forward to once again honoring our Consular Corps in 2017, and will continue to work together to make our city an ever more global and welcoming place.