Much to my chagrin, it had been at least 20 years since my last visit to the Shedd Aquarium, but fond childhood experiences met and merged with adult pleasures at the Shedd’s top-notch annual gala on June 8.
The well run, tony “Be Like Bond: The Stingray Affair,” featured multiple facets in changing quarters of the Shedd for the more than 900 guests.
Represented were Chicago’s philanthropic frontrunners, elected officials, captains of industry, media and more during an elegant evening in one of the city’s most treasured venues.
Shedd Board Chairman Tyrone C. Fahner and past chairs Sarah Nava Garvey, Stephen Byron Smith and Shedd trustees had to beam at the high-caliber crowd that included Mayor Rahm Emanuel all dressed to the nines.
They were there to support the Shedd’s mission-based initiatives of animal care, conservation science and research, education, sustainability and community access.
The net effect, so to say, of The Stingray Affair was the more than $1.2 million raised at the spy-themed gala, so named in celebration of Shedd’s newest experience, the “Stingray Touch,” sponsored by Walgreens.
The evening kicked off with guests escorted into the Abbott Oceanarium by James Bond and Bond girl look-a-likes through a can’t-miss lineup of sexy Tesla cars (but not as sexy as those girls). “Sky Fall” martinis were a welcome addition with canapés of smoked salmon and herb crusted lamb.
The sneak preview of Shedd’s “One World” aquatic show, emceed by former CBS 2 Chicago anchor and longtime Shedd supporter Bill Kurtis, bought back childhood memories of field trips to the Shedd for this guest.
An auction featuring four adventures, including a trip across the pond to London, followed the aquatic show and its moving animal performances and videos before guests moved on to a sumptuous dinner at warm and beautifully decorated tables.
Networking and socializing were abundant over sustainable tuna tartar with spicy avocado mousse, beef tenderloin and butter poached Maine lobster and a dessert homage to Hostess pastries. The food was great, the conversation even greater.
After viewing the Shedd’s beautiful galleries, that again stirred memories of those childhood field trips, guests stepped inside “Q’s Lab” to enjoy late night gourmet French fries and macaroons, and sip cordials.
Against the backdrop of easily the best view of Chicago’s skyline (especially on a gorgeous night), guests danced with more energy than would ultra-cool James Bond on the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace to the music of Chicago’s own Gold Coast All Stars.