CHICAGO On Saturday night, performers clad in colorful, all-spandex ensembles and jellyfish headdresses greeted 850 guests at the Shedd Aquarium's annual gala. Dubbed “Sea Jelly Soirée,” this year's event was inspired by the aquarium's current exhibition and raised $1.2 million.
“The gala committee had a brainstorm for the event last October when the plans for the 'Jellies' exhibit had just been finalized,” said Katrina Clark, assistant director of donor relations and special events. “The committee was inspired by the bright colors and playfulness of the exhibit, and they wanted the event to express the same look and feel."
“Each year, we ask for bids from three decor vendors and the committee chooses the company that they feel will best execute their vision,” Clark said. For Sea Jelly Soirée, the team selected Heffernan Morgan Ronsley, which brought in design elements that channeled jellyfish and a famous Italian fashion brand.
“The event decor palette was magenta, turquoise, yellow, and orange, mixed in with an aquatic Pucci look,” Clark said. “The flowing arms of the sea jelly and the act of swirling in the water were really brought out through the entire design,” including in patterned lights, bright linens, and and jellyfish-shaped light fixtures hanging over the dance floor.
This year, planners built a tent on Museum Campus, in front of the Shedd, for after-dinner dancing. “The last time we built a tent like this was 2008, and we used it for cocktail hour with a live auction,” said Clark. “The tent planning process was challenging as we had to get permits from the city to build on park district property.”