It has been quite some time since I’ve been to the Shedd Aquarium. While some time has passed since my childhood days of wandering the aquatic museum, I’ve always appreciated the world of wonder tucked away on Lake Shore Drive.
For one weekend only, my friend Jillian and I would be able to relive our childhood fantasies of roaming around the aquarium with the Shedd Auxiliary Board’s BLU Frog Wild. Sprawled across this perfect aquatic setting, over a thousand Chicagoans descended to the aquarium in their finest attire for an evening of some under the sea fun.
The party began a little early for VIP’s as they were treated to a private reception, where they would get just a taste of the magical evening that awaits them. VIP’s gathered on the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace where guests could take in impressive Chicago skyline views and marvel at the glistening waters of lake Michigan. While relaxing in the plush seating, party-goers indulged in libations and nibbled on delectable bites. The cuisine was so incredibly delicious, I’m pretty sure I had my fair share of food before the official party even started. To really set the mood, the VIP section was serenaded by The Voices very own John Martin.
While John Martin provided a bit of pre-party entertainment, there would be yet another show featuring some of the aquarium’s biggest stars. As guests gathered at the main pool, they were treated to an aquatic performance from dolphins, beluga whales, and a welcoming site from the adorable Magellanic penguins. Of the performances, the dolphins were my favorites. Majority of attendees would agree with me as they elicited the most oohs and aahs as they leaped through the air.
While cheers and chants were welcome, it was then time to really show support for the aquarium by participating in a live auction. Each guest was given a paddle as they would raise their paddle when the dollar amount they wanted to donate was announced. There was no shortage of paddles making their appearance throughout the evening. Because of everyone’s eagerness, the aquarium was able to raise an astounding $415,000. The funds raised would support the Shedd’s programs for animal rehabilitation and rescue missions.
At this point, we had been treated to decadent dishes, a marvelous setting, and an aquatic show. You would think the party was complete. Wrong! Shedd BLU had even more surprises planned for us that evening.
While the dolphins certainly stole the show, it was time for us to give the spotlight to our masters of ceremonies Amphibians. This year’s benefit highlighted the debut of Shedd Aquarium’s newest exhibit Amphibians. 40 different types of the rarest forms of amphibians from frogs, salamanders, and caecilians were given the spotlight. This is where the Frog Wild comes into play. And boy did we get Frog Wild as we were treated to over 30 different food vendors in various areas of the Waters of the Worlds galleries. There was so much available, that I’ll admit that I was very overwhelmed. VIP’s were also treated to a separate dining section that I found to come in handy when navigating through the crowd. I highly recommend going VIP for this party as you’ll want to avoid longer lines and have more dining options.
The food was certainly plentiful but hidden throughout the party are even more sections for some lively entertainment. There was a body painting section where guests would be painted with aquatic themes. I joined in on the fun and had a dolphin painted and this perfectly complimented my turquoise dress. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the dolphin looks like it’s jumping out of the water. Great suggestion by the artist, and I won’t be too upset if you decide to copy me next year. 😉
Also scattered about were stations were guest could get a little up close and personal with some of the marine life. Outside, there was a pool with stingrays that you could pet. No accidents would happen here as these stingrays did not have their stingers. Inside the party, you could venture on the dangerous side and get close to some sharks. I didn’t find out till the sharks till after I left, so this proves that there is literally something on every corner to be on the lookout for. I definitely need to have a game plan for next year.
As the party continues, a staff member comes out with a sign telling guests to descend upon the terrace for a secret performance. As we made our way outside, there on the terrace we were treated to a fiery performance by Pyrotechniq. Clashing with the dark night, their fiery globes lit up the party. All the party goers marveled at their dangerous performance. This was easily the highlight of the evening for me.
The evening is coming to a close early for me and Jillian but of course we couldn’t part without having dessert. As we treated back inside there was quite the bodacious display of delectable sweets such as cupcakes from More and donuts from Stans Donuts. It’s also great to end a party on a sweet and delicious note.
While the party ended a tad early for us, for the rest of the party-goers it was time to hit the dance floor on the terrace. Ladies parted with their stilettos and traded them in for flats (By the way, the flats were provided. I think every event should take note of this) and danced the night away to some popular tunes. To make the evening more perfect, a firework display provided the perfect backdrop cementing in everyone’s memory that this BLU Frog Wild was going to be yet another one for the books.
Everyone was also treated to a goodie bag upon leaving filled with various treats. I also appreciated the already chilled water bottle filled with water. Once again, every party should take note. For those who may have enjoyed the open bar a little too freely, I’m sure this water battle came in handy.
All in all, BLU Frog Wild is quite the party and I completely understand why it’s one of Chicago’s most coveted Summer events. Be sure to mark your calendar’s for next year’s BLU!