Rewind to July 27 when more than 900 of the city’s wildlife enthusiasts and socialites assembled at the Shedd Aquarium for the sold-out signature fundraising gala known as BLU to make a difference for the aquatic animals everywhere.
Hosted by the Shedd’s Auxiliary Board and co-chairs Caroline Conese, Ronak Danak and Dana Waud Floberg, the event raised more than $330,000 to support Shedd’s ongoing sustainability, conservation and rescue efforts for aquatic wildlife around the globe and for the animals that call Shedd home.
The theme, “Out of the BLU” focused on helping guests keep litter out of the waterways and away from landfills, but rather reallocate waste generated throughout the evening with the help of the aquarium’s composting and recycling programs.
VIP guests kicked off the event an hour early and had the aquarium to themselves where they came face-to-face with Shedd’s Magellanic penguins and enjoyed a private acoustic performance from Daniel Wade outside while sipping on drinks provided by Heaven’s Door Whiskeys served in compostable cups.
As the celebration got underway, guests walked through the main entrance that was decorated with 10″ octopus tentacles for a memorable photo opportunity. In the main foyer, artists from Ink Factory created a real-time art piece about how attendees can incorporate Zero Waste into their daily lives and their favorite memories at Shedd with visual notes and hand-drawn illustrations.
Between sipping cocktails and experiencing special animal encounters to tastings from Chicago’s top restaurants like Nude Dude Food and Shaw’s Crab House, guests marveled at a “trashion” show hosted by Gordon Salon with models wearing upcycled couture outfits made from plastic bottles and bags. The activities and experiences helped inspire guests to think twice before reaching for single-use plastic materials.
The stylish crown then headed to an exclusive aquatic presentation titled Tomorrow Starts Tonight in the Abbott Oceanarium that featured a dynamic musical performance by Musicality – a local west Chicago musical group featured on America’s Got Talent.
A call to take action for animals by Shedd President and CEO Dr. Bridget Coughlin also highlighted the aquarium’s ongoing plastic pollution reduction efforts. Following an aquatic presentation with California sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins and Magellanic and rockhopper penguins, guests raised more than $47,000 in donations to benefit the aquarium’s mission.
Attendees then moved to the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace for dancing with special performances by some of Chicago’s most popular drag performers, including Kat Sass and Lucy Stoole. Guests enjoyed food and drink and danced under the majesty of fireworks at Navy Pier.
Concluding the eventful evening, guests had the option to keep the party going at LiqrBox Chicago for the BLU After Party. While exiting, guests picked up a reusable bag, with SWZLE reusable straws, Ferrara candy, reusable food wraps, and more, to encourage them to embrace the Zero Waste theme and choose alternatives to single-use plastics in their daily lives.
“Out of the BLU” was sponsored, in part, by Citadel, Ferrara, ArcelorMittal and others.
Photos by: ©Shedd Aquarium/Eva Ho and ©Shedd Aquarium/Danielle Dolan