BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Over 900 guests – some lookalikes in their black tie attire to the fête’s eponymous “tuxedo wearing” aquatic critters – partied at the 39th Annual Ball of the Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo, entitled “Penguins in Paradise.” Always the summer event to celebrate, this year gave even more cause to do so: the event rasied a record-breaking $1.35 million, which will boost the Board’s commitment to the Zoo’s transformation of its physical landscape, provide state-of-the-art exhibits, including Penguin Cove, and inspire connection with nature in one of the few world-class zoos that is open to the public free of cost.
From arrival until midnight, guests were surrounded by the recreation of the beauty of a South African sunset over Boulders Beach, the African penguin’s natural habitat. The endangered African penguins, numbering a little over a dozen, won’t be moving into their new home, the Robert and Mayani Pritzer Penguin Cove, until the fall.
Women’s Board President Kim Theiss reports on a very special “March of the Penguins,” a spectacle that could not be rehearsed – they had one shot to make it right:
“All the planning came together for me with a very special ‘wow’ moment choreographed with Jewell Events Catering. Each individual dessert plate had a ‘light-up’ penguin placed on a plate with adhesive next to the martini glass type dessert vessel. All the waiters were lined up to carry all the dessert plates, first onto the dance floor, making their turns from different lines, and then delivering the lit desserts to each guest. The glow of the candles and lit penguins all across the tent was stunning.
“Just like those lights seeming to float across the room, the Zoo Ball continues to shine as THE party of the summer, and we know our success comes from 39 years of learning and improving every single year. A few other enhancements that were very unique and special to Zoo Ball 2016 were definitely the obvious, larger upgrades like the clear tent, the rotating main stages, and the VIP cabanas for donors, but little touches like the rectangular tables and the Bermuda tuxedos guests were encouraged to wear this year also made a difference.
“The Ball is the single largest fundraiser for the Lincoln Park Zoo each year, thanks to the generosity of so many that are also fiercely dedicated to keeping this zoo free.”
Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO, and John Ettelson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, welcomed guests along with benefit co-chairs Lisa Genesen and Christine Tierney. The success of the Ball was made possible in part by the Presenting Sponsor PowerShares QQQ.
The Women’s Board was also celebrating their 40th anniversary at the Ball, and plans a special luncheon celebration in the fall. Kim reported:
“We have 34 women that have been on our board for thirty years, and 16 women that have been members for forty years. The Lincoln Park Zoo and our Women’s Board are dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience in the heart of Chicago and to advancing the highest quality of animal care, education, science, and conservation. I am so proud to represent this oasis in downtown Chicago which is open to all families 365 days a year.”
Violet Domiek, John Reilly Photography