ompanies with panoramic views of the harbor used offices as viewing platforms for the Parade of Sail yesterday, giving clients and employees box seats to an event that had thousands of people standing for hours on the harbor.
Clients and their families were wined and dined by companies at Rowes Wharf, which threw parties on the patios of their offices. In office buildings across the financial district, work was kept to a minimum as employees gathered on patios and in front of plate-glass windows to enjoy the spectacle.
For the lawyers at Peabody & Arnold law firm, their office reception was a daylong affair, including breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception. From the seventh floor of 50 Rowes Wharf, guests could enjoy watching the parade without standing underneath the hot sun.
''It is a way for our business partners to connect with potential clients,'' said Mark Young, a Peabody & Arnold partner.
The firm had appoximately 2,000 guests, 1,300 of whom were clients, he said. Some guests traveled from as far as Minnesota and California to attend.
Young said that the event gave the firm a significant number of contacts that could develop into business later on. Representatives from Fidelity Investments, Wainwright Bank, the architecture firm of Elkus Manfredi, and Boston Capital all attended.
The receptions were a mixture of business and pleasure. Joerg Laves, director of customer care at Vigil Technologies in Acton, saw the party as an opportunity to bring business to his company. Laves attended a reception given by Rubin and Rudman LLP at Rowes Wharf and was able to find potential clients for his company.
Jason Fraser, an associate at Peabody & Arnold, saw the gathering as a chance to catch up with his clients and find out what their needs were.
Peabody & Arnold also will be entertaining some of its clients Thursday night on a Tall Ships cruise, Young said.
Many companies were sensitive to the attention spans of their guests' children, and hired entertainers. Peabody & Arnold set up rooms for a temporary tattoo artist, balloonist, face painting artist, and caricaturist for children tired of watching the ships. Rubin and Rudman hired an a cappella group to keep its attendees circulating. Neither company had an estimate on how much the parties cost.
For companies, this year's celebration is different from Sail Boston 1992 because it fell on a weekday. Although employees at these firms officially had the day off, some people were still on call. Peabody set up a ''quiet room'' with secretaries to make sure that someone would take care of any emergencies that clients had. Attendees like Michael Lenihan, sales manager for corporate trust services at State Street Bank, could only spend a couple of hours at the party before returning to work.
Some companies limited their festivities to include only employees and their families. Porter Morgan, senior vice president of Liberty Financial Companies, said his company hosted an ''employee appreciation day'' luncheon in a conference room with windows overlooking the harbor. Liberty offices are in the Federal Reserve Building across from South Station.
Samuel W. Bodman III, chairman and chief executive of Cabot Corp., invited employees to view the ships from his home on the Boston waterfront, even though the State Street office has a view of the harbor, said Ethel Shepard, director of corporate affairs.
Besides holding these receptions in their offices, some firms invited clients to events on the Tall Ships. Hutchins Wheeler & Dittmar, a Sail Boston 2000 sponsor, joined other corporate sponsors in setting up a tent on Black Falcon Pier for clients who want to view the ships, said Kristin Sudholz, director of client services at Hutchins. As a sponsor, the company will also hold a cocktail reception for its business partners at the USS Constitution Museum.
Andrea Costa, spokeswoman for the Boston Harbor Hotel, said all function rooms are booked for the rest of the week by companies holding receptions. The guest rooms at the hotel are also filled, many of them reserved by companies who have flown guests in from out of town, she said.