A Gathering Like No Other

Tennessee Aquarium Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Spring!

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - by Thom Benson

In the 25 years since its signature glass peaks rose above the banks of the Tennessee River, the Tennessee Aquarium has served as the epicenter of Chattanooga’s downtown renaissance. 

Since opening on May 1, 1992, more than 22 million people from all over the world have visited the Aquarium, fueling billions of dollars in economic impact. Even as it established itself and Chattanooga as tourist destinations, however, the Aquarium also pursued research and conservation programs to better understand and preserve the unparalleled biologic diversity of the Southeast’s waterways. 

On April 27, the Aquarium will toast the many achievements of its first 25 years during Spring!, a one-of-a-kind dinner and social gathering taking place on the Walnut Street Bridge. This unique locale offers attendees a symbolic perspective on the vibrant development the Aquarium was instrumental in bringing about. 

“The Aquarium has had a phenomenal first 25 years, and our growth and the growth of downtown have gone hand in hand,” says President and CEO Keith Sanford. “Spring! is a celebration of our exceptional success. It’s also a unique opportunity for the community to support our mission and the exciting work we’ll accomplish in the years to come.” 

The celebration will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception featuring local artists and musicians near the span’s southern entrance. During the reception, guests will be able to enjoy wine, Chattanooga Whiskey-based cocktails and Aquarium Amber Ale, a beer specially prepared by Big River Grille and Brewing Works. 

At 7 p.m., attendees will be seated together at a massive 480-foot-long dining board comprised of 60 individual tables laid end to end. Here, they will be served entrees prepared by Walnut Hill Catering. 

At 8 p.m., guests will enjoy a dessert of decadent chocolates from Rembrandt’s Coffee House and raise their glasses in a toast to the visionaries who supported the dream of an Aquarium and the tremendous impact it made in its first 25 years. 

Tickets for Spring are $150 per person or $1,200 per eight-person table. VIP packages are $4,000 and include priority seating, complimentary parking and special tickets to see the new Lemur Forest exhibit. Proceeds from the event will be invested in future exhibits and support the Aquarium’s ongoing education and conservation programs. 

Throughout the celebration, guests will enjoy unobstructed views of the downtown skyline with the Aquarium’s iconic silhouette at its center. The evening’s atmosphere of camaraderie and this picturesque backdrop serve as symbolic reminders of the community support that brought the Aquarium into being and the monumental civic growth it fueled. 

“It’s important to have everyone dining together because it took all of us, the whole community, to get the Aquarium to where it is in its 25th year,” Sanford says. “The cityscape of Chattanooga is really beautiful and a visual reminder of our legacy. During Spring!, you can see the Aquarium surrounded by everything else that has grown up alongside it.” 

To purchase tickets for Spring, call 785-4067 or visit tnaqua.org/spring.

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