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It’s hard not to love the Charleston Waterkeeper. Not only does the environmental non-profit organization preserve and protect the integrity of Charleston’s waterways, but executive director and founder Cyrus Buffum is nothing if not charming and enthusiastic, and their annual fundraiser is one heck of a party.

The third annual Water Ball kicked off much in the same manner of last year’s gala: with ominous clouds, flashes of lightening, and an impending monsoon. While the irony of a torrential downpour welcoming guests to a clean water benefit was certainly not lost on partygoers, guests took the weather in stride. Everyone dashed under the tents on the South Carolina Aquarium terrace for a cocktail hour with sweeping views of the thunderclouds and retired into the aquarium as the storm got underway.

Once inside, one couldn’t help observing two things: how young and hip the crowd was, and that there were remote-controlled shark blimps prowling above the masses, their toothy grins welcoming everyone. Those who attended this year’s Water Ball were considerably more dressed up than attendees of the years prior, adding to the festive feel of the night. Partygoers wove their way through the tanks of brightly colored fish to snag canapes from some of Charleston’s finest eateries, including Carolina’s, Bull Street Gourmet, Fleet Landing, and Leaf.

After giving guests the opportunity to whet their appetite and snag a signature cocktail, executive director Cyrus Buffum took the mic and officially welcomed everyone to the party. “He’s just too cute,” one partygoer sighed.

Charlestonians mingled, admired the marine life, and made their way back towards the DJ as the night wore on, and everyone was happy to see the progress of the night’s donations. The Charleston Waterkeeper organization decided to represent the evening’s donations with cute blue lightbulbs, which were screwed into an electric sign reading “Clean Water” to light up the night as the party wore on.

The Water Ball is the annual fundraiser for the Charleston Waterkeeper. Founded in 2008 by Cyrus Buffum, the Charleston Waterkeeper is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting the integrity of Charleston’s waterways by defending against pollution and contamination. Charleston Waterkeeper is one of nearly 200 programs in the Waterkeeper Alliance, which strives to empower the public to take back our right to clean water.