By Roxy Ekberg
Lazy Acres Decor & Floral by Sarah Ekberg received the opportunity of lifetime-to help design arrangements for the recently held 2022 Griot Gala Oscar After Party in Los Angeles.
On Sunday, March 27, Ekberg worked with celebrity event planner Dwight Eubanks, Don Wallstedt of Orchis Designs, and a small team of other designers to decorate for the 4th Annual Griot Gala Oscar After Party, “A Toast to Diversity and Inclusion” at the BOA Steakhouse in Los Angeles, California.
The Wakefield florist was given barely two weeks' notice-by long-time friend, Don Wallstedt- before flying out to West Hollywood and put to work. Ekberg said, “At first, I thought I was being pranked because Don is a stinker. Then I realized what an amazing opportunity this was and I couldn’t say no.”
Ekberg’s work included creating the two focal point entrance designs, the entrance design for celebrity walk-ups, and brandishing the photoshoot backdrop with large red roses. Her distinctive touch was incorporated into every design at the event.
“Don and I meet through the industry years ago. He could have 6-10 designers brought in, and called and asked me to be part of his team with the promise that I bring my two daughters,” explains Ekberg. Many of the other florists were local, one was from Colorado, Ekberg represented Nebraska, and another flew in from as far as Belize. Ryan Ekberg, husband to Sarah, had to stay home due to calving season. “I’m very proud of my girls and I can’t wait to see what they do next. I just hope they invite me next time,” he said with a grin.
Work began at 8 a.m. Sunday morning and lasted until 5 p.m. that night, after which, the floral team was kicked out as polishing touches were placed on the venue to ready it for the stars. The team rushed back to their hotel rooms to prepare for the night’s festivities. Each designer was invited to return to the event as party-goers. Sarah, knowing her girls would not be welcome in the venue since they are underage, promptly snuck them in through the back. Wearing gowns from ReDressed Formals by Barb Farup, the Ekbergs climbed over patio furniture, sneaked in, and snapped a few photos before getting caught by security. It was then that Ekberg discovered there was not only an open bar, but one of the sponsors was providing free cannabis samples. Before the partiers started lighting up, Sarah and her girls left. Hayden Ekberg, Sarah’s oldest, commented, “I never thought I’d go to an Oscars After Party, let alone get kicked out of one!” Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, the Griot Gala honored Phylicia Rashad, Cheech Marin, and Renee Lawless.
Celebrity attendees entered the venue by walking on the purple carpet, posing for pictures in front of the hedge wall Ekberg helped design.
Being their first time in LA, the Ekberg women took the city by storm. Within hours of their plane touching down on Saturday, they visited Santa Monica Pier. It was their first time seeing the ocean. Ekberg expressed, “I couldn’t see the water past my tears. It was something I’ve always dreamed of doing and I got to do it with my girls.” That same night, the girls shopped on the Promenade in downtown Santa Monica. The Ekbergs then headed back to their hotel in West Hollywood, preparing for a long day’s work on Sunday. After setting up the event, and being politely kicked out, they were able to continue their vacation. Before take-off on Monday, the girls ventured back to the ocean at Venice Beach.
Lazy Acres Decor & Floral was created in 2008 with a $100 craft fair investment. Impressed by their Midwestern style of hard work, the event coordinators invited the Ekbergs to work on next year’s event. The family is already planning their trip. Ekberg said, “I still can’t believe this happened. I’m very proud of my hard work and grateful to my family and my community for supporting me throughout the years.”