Sunday morning event planners may have questioned the move of the 2018 Zoo To Do’s “Safari Soiree” from the Dallas Zoo on Saturday, October 13. But it was definitely the right move that, despite a lot of diligent foresight, still required a lot of scrambling.
As a refresher: the morning of the event was a first-class collision of lightning, thunder, lost electricity and the drenching of already saturated grounds. Even the day before had been off-and-on drizzle.
But Event Co-Chairs Kim and Greg Hext, who’d already planned for such a possible rainout, had reserved a local hotel months ago as a possible backup. But when they contacted the hotel on Monday, October 8, to set the wheels in motion for a move, the hotel rep apologized, explaining they were in construction mode and would have to say, “Sorry.”
Instead of panicking or even entertaining the idea of canceling, Kim, Greg and the Zoo To Do team put calls out to everything from hotels to The Star. And then the Hyatt Regency Dallas not only came through, they accommodated the team beyond their wildest hopes. Yes, they had a ballroom that could accommodate the affair. Yes, they would welcome the Jack Boles valet team that had been scheduled to work the affair at the Zoo. Yes, they would be glad to work with the various chefs and vendors.
There was even a touch of irony. The ballroom was one many had never known about. It was called the Marsalis Hall… yup, Marsalis, as in the name of the park in which the Dallas Zoo is located. As Kim put it, “We may not be on Marsalis, but we’re in Marsalis!”
The next trick was getting the decorations, chefs and other vendors like Republic to get on board with the possible move. It was thumbs-up all around.
Thursday, the decision was made to move. Even if the forecast 100% chance of showers was to change, the decision was made to party at the Hyatt.
As guests departed their cars, they were greeted by African musicians and directed to the indoor Saturday night safari. They definitely set the mood, as Alina and Ruben Esquivel started dancing before even hitting the door.
While guests may have thought the giraffes, tigers and elephants would be missed, they were delighted to find the critters were at the Hyatt. No, not the breathing/eating types. Rather, illuminated animals were not only decorating the sidelines of the entry hall, they were more than willing for photo opps.
Once past the check-in, guests stepped down into the splendiferous safari with chef stations surrounding the room, a silent auction, tables for dining and a stage for the after-party with Emerald City’s All-Stars. On the walls behind the bars were way-bigger-than-life-size collages of zebras, giraffes and other Dallas Zoo residents.
It was easy to spot the VIP guests. They wore lanyards with glowing discs that impressed and gained them access to the draped VIP lounge with its private bar and arrangements of elegant couches and chairs.
Snapshots: Animal prints were the design of the night for the ladies, worn by Kim, Mary McDermott Cook, Patricia Meadows, Cindy Gummer, Barbara Daseke, Barbara Bigham and Diane Brierley. On the other hand, the men either opted for the traditional safari look (Randall Goss, Dan Patterson and Bob Bigham) or always-safe North Texas sorta casual dress of open shirt with jacket (Greg, Don Glendenning, Nick Even, Hal Brierley and Mike Gruber).
And if anyone thought that the threat of more rain and the move to a hotel had dissuaded guests from attending, think again. The place was jammed.
BTW, don’t bother asking Kim which hotel party pooped out. She ain’t talking. But a little investigation resulted in finding out it wasn’t the Hilton Anatole, the Fairmont Dallas or the Statler.