Celebration and conservation made a dazzling couple at Toast to the Coast, the annual gala fundraiser for Ocean Wise. This year, the much-anticipated event took place in the summertime, on Friday, July 12, to make the most of the Vancouver Aquarium’s beautiful and lively outdoor spaces.

That may have explained the fact that the event attracted its largest-ever number of attendees, at 567. Altogether, they raised $168,000 for ocean conservation in a festive atmosphere, accompanied by live performances from Siobhan Walsh Group and Trilojay, as well as a set later in the evening from DJ Nat.

Guests, Ocean Wise staff, and president and CEO Lasse Gustavsson (right) enjoy the beautiful summer night at Toast to the Coast 2019. All photos by Leila Kwok.

“Toast to the Coast is our opportunity to raise funds
in a gala environment for the safeguarding our oceans,” said Lasse Gustavsson, President and CEO of Ocean Wise. He briefly spoke at the event, along with Edna Ray of Air Canada, a longtime sponsor, and event committee co-chairs Peter Rowntree and Shannon Clarke.

“This was my first year attending, since I just took my position this past February. What a wonderful night it was — such fun at the same time as our guests, sponsors, partners and auction donors generously supported Ocean Wise. I met all kinds of ocean lovers who were interested in our scientific research, educational programs and conservation efforts.”

Spirits were high at the gala fundraiser, which attracted a record crowd.

The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful, and the move from fall to summer was well-received. As always, Toast to the Coast invited everyone to raise a glass to healthy oceans as they marvelled at the Aquarium’s 50,000 gorgeous inhabitants. The gala was more than just a good deed, though – guests also dined on buzz-worthy food from 16 local restaurants and imbibed memorable drinks from 23 beverage partners.

Howe Sound Brewing was one of 23 breweries, wineries, distilleries and non-alcoholic beverage-makers whose delicious wares kept guests happy throughout the night.

They wandered the Aquarium’s galleries and outdoor habitats, drinks and food in hand, with colleagues and friends, old and new. They learned about the essential research, education and conservation programs that their generosity helps support. And they bid on the extraordinary items in the silent auction, which included exotic trips, fantastic outdoor experiences, and many other irresistible treats.

The live auction generated lots of excitement as bidders vied for trips and other items.

“There was a bidding frenzy at the live auction — the first time this has happened at Toast to the Coast — with auctioneer Howard Blank,” said Alec Moloney, development coordinator, events and administration for Ocean Wise. “$12,650 was raised through the auction, with guests putting paddles in the air for trips to Victoria, Tofino and Mexico.”

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