Florida Aquarium Stirs Up the Creative Waters for Halloween

Guests got "nauti" at the Florida Aquarium's annual Nauti-Night Halloween event.

By Avian Nobles Curtis November 8, 2007, 2:21 PM EST

The Wizard of Oz trio was a favorite among event attendees.

Photography by Chanele

The Florida Aquarium's 10th annual masquerade ball, Nauti-Night, isn't your typical costume ball, and for one evening a year, the space isn't your typical aquarium. On October 26, the Tampa aquarium transformed its exhibit spaces into spooky environments for dining, dancing, and cocktails.

The aquarium turned to Grand Events of Florida LLC to make the exhibits worthy of a creepy creature of the deep. A magnificent crystal chandelier covered in cobwebs was suspended above the stingray tank in the grand lobby entrance. On the second floor, hallways to various exhibits became cavernous tunnels filled with spiderwebs, large raven silhouettes, and—of course—a skull here and there.

More than 450 guests dined on a Cuban-inspired menu, complete with black beans and rice and plantains, by Pollo Tropical. As the night progressed, attendees ventured deeper in the haunted aquarium, where they were greeted by a chocolate piranha display and dessert bar, created by Council Oak - Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Among the most popular desserts were the gourmet chocolate lollipops.

Entertainment was strategically placed throughout the two-story aquarium, both indoors and out, to maintain a dance-club-style atmosphere. Near the 93,000-gallon shark tank exhibit, a DJ spun retro hits that had guests cutting a rug in front of the notorious predators. On the ground floor, Synchronicity, a high-energy band specializing in current dance hits, kept the costumed patrons entertained until midnight.

Throughout the evening, attendees competed for a grand prize of $1,000 for the best costume. Among the crowds favorites were a remarkable Where's Waldo? look-alike and a trio from The Wizard of Oz, including the Wicked Witch of the West, a flying monkey, and a castle guard.

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