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On Thursday, attendees of the New York Aquarium’s Dinner by the Sea gala enjoyed a balmy evening as they watched walrus feedings, honored conservationists and guiltily ate delicious seafood appetizers.

The fundraiser was especially important to the aquarium, according to Susann Holloway, the Aquarium’s associate manager of events marketing, as last year’s gala was canceled because of Sept. 11. At Thursday’s fundraiser, $196,180 was raised. The funds will go towards supporting the education and aquatic research programs run by the aquarium, located at West Eighth Street and Surf Avenue in Coney Island.

The evening began with cocktails served outside among the Sea Cliffs, a re-creation of a rocky Pacific coastline, and continued with dinner inside the Seaside Pavilion, adjacent to the new "Alien Stingers" hall.

Distinguished leadership awards were presented to Wildlife Conservation Society Trustee Brian Heidtke and his wife, Darlene Heidtke; to Alan Fishman, president and CEO of Independence Community Bank and president of the Independence Community Foundation (who gushed to the crowd: "Isn’t the [’Alien Stingers’] exhibit fabulous? Really fabulous?"); and to Wildlife Conservation Society patrons Denise Sobel and Norman Keller of Breezy Point.

The awardees were chosen for their support of "Alien Stingers," a dreamy exhibit of jellyfish, corals and anemones that opens on Sept. 27.

The Aquarium’s Conservation Award was presented to Joshua Reichert, who accepted on behalf of the 2-year-old international ocean advocacy organization, Oceana, based in Washington, D.C. Oceana was honored for its work towards ending destructive fishing practices and reducing ocean pollution. Reichert used his time at the microphone to sound an alarm.

"Coral reef systems, which harbor a phenomenal amount of life, are in decline throughout the world and many shallow-water reefs are expected to be dead within the next two to three decades if water temperatures continue to rise," said Reichert. "[Humans] are rapidly destroying life in the sea."

Reichert praised the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the New York Aquarium, as well as the Bronx, Prospect Park, Central Park and Queens zoos.

"The society has remained committed to making a difference rather than simply making a statement, an approach which happily distinguishes it from a number of its peers," said Reichert. "While this way of doing business may not always produce newspaper stories, it has earned you the respect of conservation professionals all over the world for your integrity and your dedication to actually producing tangible results on the ground."

While the aquarium does great work, it can be dangerous work for the keepers. While handling the Lion’s Mane jellyfish in the "Alien Stingers" exhibit, jellyfish aquarist Amy Messbauer revealed the stings she received on her arm to GO Brooklyn. However, the intrepid marine keeper dismissed the pain.

"I enjoy the challenge of culturing and breeding them," she said. "They’re so beautiful; they look like lava lamps."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz received a warm welcome while bestowing his proclamations. Other attendees included Assemblywoman Adele Cohen and Mrs. Brooklyn, Jamie Snow Markowitz.

Catered by Glen Cove, Long Island-based Elegant Affairs, the dinner included a salad served with a scrumptious beggar’s purse (fashioned out of a crepe) that was filled with boursin cheese, filet mignon and a sacher torte garnished with a sea star cookie. While the dinner was expertly executed, the highlight of the evening was definitely the sneak peek at the "Alien Stingers" exhibit. Don’t miss it.

Klub Kino

DUMBO resident and famed actor and dancer Ben Vereen served as master of ceremonies Aug. 28 at DUMBO Art Expo IV, held at the Kino restaurant and lounge on Main Street.

The Expo is a team of artists led by curator Jan Larsen. The monthly events include an art exhibit, live acts, a DUMBO Neighborhood Service Award and after-party with "mad DJ skills" - all for $8 at the door. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds were donated to the DUMBO Neighborhood Association. (To date, Larsen says $1,551 has been donated to DNA.)

Vereen, known for his work on television ("Roots") and Broadway ("Pippin" and "Jelly’s Last Jam") has had a resurgence of fame on Broadway of late starring opposite Judd Hirsch in "I’m Not Rappaport." The Tony Award-winning entertainer will star in a one-man-show at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College on April 5.

The Art Expo returns to Kino on Oct. 3.

Opera baby, yeah

Michael York, who plays the role of Basil Exposition in all three Austin Powers films, will be joined by pianist John Bell Young in resurrecting a quite different production - the rarely performed "Enoch Arden" (which will be released on CD by Americus Records this month) - at the Brooklyn Music School this weekend.

The British film star will perform Richard Strauss’ melodramatic setting of Tennyson’s poem at the school on Sept. 28 at 7:30 pm. The one-night-only concert is a benefit for the summer opera program at the school, located at 126 St. Felix St., adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Tickets for "Enoch Arden" and a reception are $50.

For tickets and more information, call (718) 638-5660.

Postponed party

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, at 58 Seventh Ave., announced the postponement of its third annual gala, originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 30 at Manhattan’s Laura Belle. The musical tribute to honor the director of the Boys Choir of Harlem, Walter Turnbull, with proceeds earmarked for the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s Scholarship Fund, has been postponed until next spring. The slumping economy and scheduling conflicts were cited as reasons for the event’s postponement by the Conservatory’s Angela Harris.

The rescheduled fundraiser should be a memorable event as the conservatory’s tribute to "Keeper of the Be-bop Flame" Barry Harris last year included a hilarious impromptu performance on piano by Bill Cosby.

For more information, or to make a donation to the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, call (718) 622-3300.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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