The New Way an Elegant Gala Thanked Top Sponsors
For its annual gala, the Lincoln Park Zoo added cabanas as a place for its biggest donors to relax after dinner.
The Women's Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo presented the 39th annual Zoo Ball on July 15. Dubbed "Penguins in Paradise," the black-tie event was inspired by the endangered African penguins that will move into the zoo in the fall. Taking cues from the birds' native habitat, event producers gave the function a look and feel meant to channel South Africa's Boulders Beach.
As the 900 guests filtered in through the zoo's front gates, Ugochi and the Afro Soul Ensemble serenaded them with global songs. The evening's decor—carried out by Jewell Events Catering and Frost Chicago—was inspired by the colors of an African sunset. Under the clear tent where dinner was held, a backdrop for the band featured a vividly colored sky, and flowers and tabletop accessories reflected burnt orange, red, and yellow hues. Behind the tent, cabanas—a new element reserved for top sponsors—also reflected sunset-inspired hues, and had cushy seating and tables for drinks and snacks.
"The cabanas were a fitting feature," said the events co-chairwomen, Lisa Genesen and Christine Tierney, in an email interview. "The addition also allowed us to offer something special to our larger donors. Many sponsors took advantage of the cabanas, noting it was such a nice touch."
Jewell's dinner also followed the theme, offering more literal representations of the evening's animal of honor. The first course was a goat-cheese soufflé topped with a penguin-shaped cracker. Butter also came out in penguin-shaped pats, and glowing penguin statues (which doubled as take-home gifts) accompanied the desserts. After dinner, guests hit the dance floor or retreated to the cabanas and helped themselves to yet more treats, which included s'mores and doughnuts. This year's event raked in $1.35 million for the zoo.
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