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A Whale of a Tale

You know the drill – you’re invited to a gala and you probably know what to expect before you walk in the door. A little bit of networking, a little bit of food and then the traditional program.

Thankfully, the Grand Rapids Public Museum didn’t stick with the same old, same old for the Jay and Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala. They held a whale of a celebration! Back when the planning began, we were asked to come on board and help produce the evening.

“The best always happens when you reach out and collaborate with people that are creative and passionate about your organization. A Whale of a Tale was the brainchild of out of the box thinkers… great volunteers from our community. We knew we had to ‘change up’ the whole feel of the event. Who better than Cynthia Kay and Company! Our guests knew as soon as they entered they were in for a great night,” said Dale Robertson, President & CEO at the museum.

When planning an event like this, it’s important to choreograph the night – from the minute guests walk through the door to the time they leave with their parting gift. Guests enjoyed a whale watching tour throughout the museum, great food, entertainment and a chance to see some of the new exhibits the museum has to offer. Student volunteers from Forest Hills Public Schools played the role of tour guides, and lead guests to the various attractions.

With the help of Chase Creative, we created a “tunnel theater” that featured a preview of the night’s events.

The actual “program” for the night only lasted 20 minutes – so it was short, and to the point.

As guests left, they received a special keepsake – the “Whale of a Tale” storybook. “When Carol Van Andel learned of the theme, she asked if a children’s book which told the history of our whale could be created. We reached out to an educational consultant, Beth Batts. That’s how the book was created. It’s fun, historically accurate and engaged the reader,” said Robertson. The book is for sale in the Museum’s Curiosity Shop.