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Cup Fever

Inhabitants of this sleepy town are getting used to the bustle of the America's Cup taking over their lives - and there isn' a shred of evidence they're tiring of it.

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VALENCIA, Spain — Inhabitants of this sleepy town are getting used to the bustle of the America's Cup taking over their lives — and there isn' a shred of evidence they're tiring of it. On Sunday night, thousands of locals packed the streets around the Mercado Central, where Prada hosted a bash to kick off the opening of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Not even intermittent rain or a concurrent championship soccer match between Valencia and Seville kept the stargazers at home. Gray-haired grannies craned their necks from their balconies to catch a glimpse of Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Inés Sastre, Chloë Sevigny and a gran variedad of local Spanish celebs. Guests entered the market arcade, where Prada and Rem Koolhaas' AMO think tank playfully tweaked the existing fish counters and fruit stalls into gourmet angles serving up El Bulli-catered delicacies like drops of truffle-infused mozzarella and spoonfuls of pistachio paste dipped into liquid nitrogen. For traditionalists, there was also plenty of jamón ibérico and manchego on hand.

Why a market? Why not? As Miuccia Prada quipped, "It's a place of the people. All of the stands have been reinvented."

Although a few disgruntled guests lamented not being allowed into the VIP area, most enjoyed milling about the stands, digging into mini plates of paella and throwing back cocktails of fresh orange juice and vodka. "I liked that they used something from Valencia. It's sort of more original than just doing it at the port," Sastre surmised. Sevigny, clad in a Prada rose-hued bustier dress, agreed: "It's incredible. I mean, Prada really puts on a show."

Moore and Kutcher arrived an hour and a half late, waved to the crowd outside and zipped back to the VIP area, where they steered clear of the press. But Moore, sporting a Prada sequined and fur-trimmed dress, and her hubby, in an open shirt and tailored suit from the fashion house, did make time to snap a couple of photos with Prada and Patrizio Bertelli's teenage son Lorenzo.

On Monday, the action moved to the Luna Rossa base for the Louis Vuitton race series to determine who will have the right to challenge Switzerland in the America's Cup. A deafening blast of air horns sounded as the yacht left the port. Kutcher and Sevigny were supposed to work the boat in the first and second races, although they were called off because there wasn' enough wind. Too bad, because Sevigny was excited about the prospect, since she grew up in a sailing family. "I get to be the 18th man!" she said before the races were canceled.
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