July 20, 2008

Shirley Wild: Aquarium Gala Tops Itself

What a glamorous evening! Imagine the beauty of dining under the stars in a giant clear-top tent with black carpeting that lined the Aquarium of the Pacific's front plaza. Tables with white orchids in full bloom featured faux diamond studs noting the table number. Each table also had floating candles with natural greenery. Seven hundred or so formally attired guests enjoyed the beauty and the ambiance as they celebrated the aquarium's 10th anniversary at the Ocean Conservation Awards Gala on June 14.

More than $560,000 was raised, making it the most successful aquarium gala to date. Proceeds will support the nonprofit aquarium's diverse education, conservation and environmental programs.

The aquarium bestowed its highest awards, the 2008 Ocean Conservation Award, on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state of California, also to retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher Jr. and to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration for their leadership roles in protecting the environment and the ocean.

Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state were selected to receive the 2008 Ocean Conservation Award for environmental initiatives, including a landmark bipartisan agreement to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions that was signed into law in 2006.

Gov. Schwarzenegger also established the California Green Chemistry Initiative to reduce the use of toxic substances, the Hydrogen Highway Initiative, Zero Waste California and the Million Solar Roofs Plan. Recently, the state of California signed a historic agreement with Mexico to work cooperatively on ways to enhance policies for environmental protection and sustainable natural resources.

Accepting the award on behalf of the governor and the state was Linda Adams, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to the governor, Vice Adm. Lautenbacher Jr. and NOAA were awarded an Ocean Conservation Award for their commitment to data, information and knowledge to manage the nation's fisheries, National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas and coastal zones, forecasting the weather and climate, and providing the nautical charts needed to promote safe navigation.

NOAA's role

In addition, NOAA is charged with leadership of the U.S. global climate change program, the integrated ocean observing system, and the nation's efforts to promote ocean education and ocean literacy for all residents. Lautenbacher has served as undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and administrator of NOAA since 2001.

In the governor's honor, the evening featured California cuisine with every menu item including a locally grown or made ingredient in the recipe.

Four of the items served by Savor Catering by SMG were: brie fondue topped with locally grown heirloom tomato compote; roasted Gilroy garlic crostini with crispy basil; seared coastal Dungeness crab cakes, smoked paprika chili oil, and a dollop of buttery classic California Haas avocado relish; Harris Ranch grilled filet of beef with a Ghirardelli chocolate demi glace; and seared sustainable Pacific halibut.

Another longtime supporter of the aquarium, King's Seafood, contributed to this special evening by coordinating all of the wines to be served throughout the evening, including a 10-year-old Madera County Ficklin Vineyards Tawny port. In addition to a decadent meal, every gala attendee received a special evening gift bag provided by Los Cerritos and Lakewood Centers with additional gifts from the aquarium inside.

Aquarium adventure

Before dinner, guests had an opportunity to explore the aquarium exhibits including the new Ocean on Edge Gallery. In the tent, guests previewed the new 10th anniversary tribute film. After dinner, attendees made their way back inside the aquarium and enjoyed desserts, coffee and live music in the Great Hall.

FYI: Proceeds from the event will help fund the nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific's education and conservation initiatives, which include environmental education, the Aquarium on Wheels outreach program, teacher training, ocean literacy, and coral reef research and propagation. The 2009 Ocean Conservation Awards Gala will be held at the Aquarium of the Pacific on June 13.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is dedicated to instilling a sense of wonder, respect and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants and ecosystems. It is the fourth-largest aquarium in the nation and is visited by 1.4 million people annually. The aquarium houses over 12,500 animals and features a variety of programs both on and off-site to engage the public in ocean conservation and environmental education, including Aquarium on Wheels outreach programs for low-income inner city schools and cleanup efforts to help local wildlife.

The latest Zagat U.S. Family Travel Guide rated the Aquarium of the Pacific as the No. 2 Los Angeles-area Family Destination.

The aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. For information, visit www.aquariumof

pacific.org or call 562-590-3100.

Seen at the scene: Gala co-chairs Mariclare Suomi (with Marvin), Charter Pacific Circle member, and Mike Walter, Port of Long Beach commissioner; CalEPA Secretary Linda Adams and Undersecretary Cindy Tuck; Assembly member Hector De La Torre; Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe; Water Replenishment District Director Lillian Kawasaki; Long Beach City Council members Val Lerch, Gerry Schipske and Tonia Reyes Uranga with Long Beach City College Trustee Roberto Uranga; LBCC Trustee Doug Otto; and Long Beach City Manager Pat West.

Other attendees included former chairman of the Aquarium's Board of Directors Jim Gray (with Gail); former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill; Steve and Marlene Young; Mark and Trish Stevens; Charles and Cathy Reed (Charles is the chancellor of California State University System); aquarium board member Russ Hill (with Avalon); Long Beach Water Commissioner Steve Conley (with Fran); Eisuke Tsuyuzaki from Panasonic; John Hancock from Bancap; Diane Jacobus from Port of Long Beach; Dennis and Suzanne Poulsen; secretary to the Board of Water Commissioners Paul Blanco (with Miriam); Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg; Jan Mazyck; from the Port of L.B. Dick Steinke (with Tamy); Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles Geraldine Knatz (with John); Mark and Theresa Bixby; Trustees of the Pacific - Geof Garth and Jean Egan, Glenn and Cabrini March, Mike and Diane Jensen; and Long Beach Harbor Commissioners - Mario and Gloria Cordero, Doris Topsy and Ralph Elvord, and Jim and Jorene Hankla.

Sponsors included KUD International (Gold Sponsor) represented by Jim Crenshaw (with Sandy); Miller Foundation (Silver Star Sponsor) represented by Walt Florie (with Linda); and Silver Sponsors - Lakewood Center and Los Cerritos Center; Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Mario (with Therese Molina and John Molina from Molina Healthcare, Inc.; Savor Catering by SMG; The Simons Foundation; and Frank Komin (with Sharon) from THUMS Long Beach Tidelands Oil Production Co./Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Underwriters for the 2008 Gala included American Honda Motor Co., represented by Steve Morikawa (with Mary); Boeing Co.; Matt Rezvani (with Debbi) from BP America Inc.; Carlton Forge Works; GeoEco, LLC; Russ and Avalon Hill; KCSWest; Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, Moffatt & Nichol; Port of Long Beach; Sidley Austin LLP; John Fielder (with Donita Van Horik) - John is president, Southern California Edison; and Chris (with Julie) Rommel from Wells Fargo.

News of social events with charitable purposes may be sent to Shirley Wild at [email protected] or by fax to 562-594-9668. Please include a brief FYI about your organization, including a contact phone number. Send high-resolution JPEG photos to [email protected] and include group name and identification of individuals from left. Call Shirley at 562-594-9468 for information.

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