Shedd Aquarium's Goldfish Ball: stingrays, a Broadway star and Ty the sea lion entertain

The Shedd Aquariam's  annual learning themed gala, The Goldfish Ball, was coined in recognition of a child’s first introduction to aquatic life and attracted more than 800 guests on June 7.  Gala Chairman Sandi Simon and her committee of more than sixty volunteers planned an evening that was educational and entertaining, as well as a fundraising success raising more than $1.67 million to fund Shedd's programs and outreach initiatives.

Harpist Penny Currier filled the air with soothing sounds as tuxedoed and glamorous guests arrived at the event. Sipping on specialty cocktails and sampling hors d’oeuvres that included a selection of Right Bite approved sustainable sushi, smoked herb crusted lamb lollipops and lobster mac and cheese catered and donated by Sodexo, guests were offered the unique opportunity to meet a stingray, encounter a beluga whale and get up-close and personal with several different aquatic animals.

The Chicago skyline offered a breathtaking backdrop as partygoers mingled on the north terrace and were serenaded by the sultry jazz sounds of the Paul Marinaro Duo.  The evening entertainment continued as guests took their seats for Shedd’s aquatic show emceed by famed journalist, television presenter and longtime Shedd supporter Bill Kurtis, and co-produced by Shedd Trustee Donna LaPietra.

Broadway performer Susan Egan, best known for originating the role of Belle in the Broadway musical adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, provided three unforgettable vocal arrangements accompanied by Christopher McGovern and the Simone Vitale Orchestra.  Guests were surprised and delighted when Shedd’s lovable sea lion Ty made a guest appearance during a show-stopping medley from the classic Disney animated film, and the aquarium’s rescue dogs dazzled as they closed out the performance in their finest formalwear.

During the aquatic show, guests also participated in a paddle raise to support Shedd’s community access program for school children, first-responders, military personnel and veterans, teachers and others, in addition to keeping aquatic science as a highlight in children’s lives. (The paddle raise generated $282,000).

Guests "dove deeper" into the evening as they surveyed Shedd’s colorful animals while dining in the aquarium’s vibrant galleries, Caribbean Reef rotunda and Kovler Family Hall decorated to perfection by HMR Designs. After enjoying dinner, guests shimmied and sashayed onto the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace to the eclectic beat of the Simone Vitale Orchestra.

Stay tuned for the Shedd's next big event, its signature summer Auxiliary Board soiree BLU, set for July 26. For tickets and more info, click here!  (Photos by Brenna Hernandez, Heidi Zeiger, Eva Ho and Johnny Ford.)

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