By Andrea Bosco Stehle | Photographs by Catherine Palladino

WHO: Co-chair Jane Dixon, sponsorship chair Maris A. Bondi, and co-chair Valentino, the baby sloth; National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy; National Aviary Board of Directors; 1,300 guests

WHAT: The signature fundraiser featured authentic Hawaiian and Polynesian dances, and fire performances, by Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic; visits to the butterfly garden; live music by The Lava Game and DJ Loyal; and food from 30 restaurants.

WHERE: National Aviary

HIGHLIGHTS: The Taste Awards, judged in part by yours truly, recognized My Favorite Sweet Shoppe as Best Sweet for its Mountain Bark; Juniper Grill as Best Savory for its beef brisket; and Bluebird Kitchen as Best Overall for its assorted vegetarian and meat-based canapés, including pollo asado with mushroom polenta, and beet, quinoa, and fennel salad. People’s Choice Best Overall was awarded to Shakespeare’s Restaurant & Pub at Olde Stonewall Resort for its Jamaican crab slider and barbecue beef brisket on mini corn bread. This year’s event, presented by BNY Mellon, raised record funds for avian medicine, conservation research, and education, locally and internationally.

“Night in the Tropics this year was truly an exhilarating escape. The performances captivated, and the crowd breezed through an abundance of fantastic food and dessert samples. Best of all, our birds, butterflies, and baby sloth gave guests a chance to connect with our animal ambassadors.”
— Robin Weber, National Aviary director of marketing & communications

Event photos are available for purchase in the WHIRL Photo Vault:

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