By Jenny Berg Posted June 9, 2010, 12:19 PM EDT
CHICAGO On Saturday night, Shedd Aquarium kicked off the summer social season with a wintry gala for 700 guests. Dubbed the “Beluga Ball,” this year's fund-raiser had a theme inspired by some of the institution's fair-skinned inhabitants.
“When we were discussing a theme in our brainstorming sessions, our chair, Robin Doerge, said 'I just love the Beluga whales,” recalled program manager of donor relations and special events Katrina Clark. “It came up in conversation that the word beluga comes from the Russian word for white. So it morphed into a White Russian theme.”
The dress code took on a Russian spin, with the invite calling for “Black Tie or White Tie. Cossack hat optional.” During the cocktail reception, servers circulated with caviar and specialty White Russian cocktails. Heffernan Morgan designer John Hensel incorporated wintry touches into the decor, illuminating the pathway to the cocktail reception with snowflake-shaped lights and filling the aquarium's galleries with replicas of the domes from Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral.
Sodexo's dinner menu stuck with theme, offering a gold-dusted white-chocolate Fabergé egg for desert.