The rain cleared just in time for a beautiful night at PNC ZOOtoDO 2014 presented by Mass Mutual. The 27th annual event on June 20 was sold out at 18,000 party- goers, some still buying tickets that morning while storms were still in full strength.
The event started on the Africa! side then migrated to the Historic side where there were three stages of musical entertainment.
While the animals slept and were not really on view, the black tie and tennies dress code made for some fun people spectating. The humans that had the most fun dressed in black and white to match this year's Penguin theme in support of the new Penguin exhibit. Also among the long skirts, micro mini skirts, flats, tennis shoes, stilettos, tuxedo's with shorts and more were animal prints and hats, and animal tails, too.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from a fun night at the zoo
Food is a main focus, and there were plenty of appetizers, entrees and desserts all provided free by the 56 restaurants/vendors who all teamed up to staff their booths.
New restaurants this year included Bar 145, Treo Restaurant, Deet’s BBQ, Sahara Restaurant, Rachel Michael’s Gourmet Popcorn, Sidelines Sports Eatery, So Sweet Pastries, Social Gastropub, and the Mud Hens’ A Cut Above Catering.
In addition to cash bars there were American Harvest vodka martini bars and a new choice: Bubble Teas with juice poppers provided by Balance Pan-Asian Grille, which also had a separate food booth.
Evans Street Station won the Best Food Presentation award with its Ratatouille Ravioli with Prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, lemon and olive oil. Stone Oak Country Club and the Radisson Hotel’s 31 Hundred Restaurant tied for second.
The Best Booth Presentation award went to bd’s Mongolian Grill, barely beating out Texas Roadhouse.
PNC's VIP area near the Sloth Bear exhibit was packed as Regional President Bill McDonnell, Deb Ernsthausen and Tim Coleman greeted their guests. Mass Mutual's VIP party inside the Arctic Encounter polar bear exhibit was lively as well. Corporate tables under a giant tent filled up later in the evening, close to the dancing.
ZOOtoDO has become a Boyer family affair since event chairman Peter Boyer became involved 14 yrs. ago, this being his 11th year as chairman. His wife Amelia and daughter Taylor, who has volunteered for the past 12 years, and is finally old enough to attend, were there along with his mom Shirley Boyer, who has attended for 14 yrs. in a row. Son, Spencer, still has two more years before he can attend, but continues to volunteer for the event behind the scenes. Relatives from Baltimore and Cleveland were there, too.
Net proceeds are expected to exceed $230,000.
Mr. Boyer said he and Zoo staffers Robin Guidera and Nicole Overhulse work on the event for 11 months, and in another few weeks, preparations will start for ZOOtoDO 2015 on June 19th, 2015. But this year's event would not be so successful without the sponsors including Toledo Refining, Mercy/Healthspan, Hollywood Casino, and Lexus of Toledo, to name a few; the 100 some volunteers; and staffers such as Dennis Schnurbusch of visitor services and Marc Pero, electrician. The tear down committee worked till 3 a.m. getting everything back in order for business the next day at 10 a.m.