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Whether by design or accident, the South Carolina Aquarium Sealife by Starlight Gala got off to a fabulous, very festive start by coinciding with a boat parade in the Charleston Harbor. While many partygoers went inside to get the party started, a number of guests lingered outside on the patio to watch the boats and their twinkling lights float by while noshing on DIY s’mores. 

The crowd was young, well-dressed, and unpretentious. The easy-going, upbeat vibe of the party was reinforced by the sounds of live band High Tide, whose lead singer is Bubba Bryant from hit show Army Wives.

Guests wandered the South Carolina Aquarium freely, oohing and aahing over the massive tanks of marine life while enjoying the “Shooting Star” signature cocktail. Several local restaurants, including Lana, Blu, Cesca, Sesame Burgers, and The Atlantic Room at Kiawah Island. Cesca’s pork sausage and pasta dish was popular with partygoers, and several individuals could be spotted going back to Sesame for an extra pimento cheese slider. Blu’s lobster and leek terrine was so delicious, no one even thought twice about eating seafood in an aquarium. 

While the marine life was certainly the main attraction of the evening, several other animals could be spotted making their rounds about the party. A baby alligator drew a large crowd, while a Madagascar hissing cockroach - on display next to one of the food stations - caught many partygoers by surprise. The cutest partygoer by far, however, was a little barn owl. “Can I have my picture taken with the owl?” was the ongoing refrain, and the feathered friend happily stayed perched through many a photo op. 

As the silent auction drew to a close, partygoers moved to the front hall for the live auction. Guests bid quickly and generously, and the Sealife by Starlight Gala raised $60,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium. 

Founded in May 2000, the South Carolina Aquarium strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research, and by providing an exceptional visitor experience.