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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2017 3 years ago

Natural wonders highlight preserve’s annual fundraiser

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The Oakland Nature Preserve will be hosting its second annual Night at the Preserve Friday evening to celebrate Earth Day.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

OAKLAND – In celebration of Earth Day, the Oakland Nature Preserve will host an event that allows attendees to enjoy an evening out among the welcome company of food, art and champagne.

The event, now in its second year, is called Night at the Preserve, and it also serves as one of the many fundraising events for the preserve.

The evening will kick off with some food and live music courtesy of pianist Lindsey Peterson and guitarist John Starkovich and progress into a silent art auction followed by a sunset toast.

“We’re going to be having, what they call, heavy appetizers and some great music,” said Mona Phipps, director of the Oakland Nature Preserve. “And for the silent art auction, we’re going to have local artists and some national artists. We’ll have wildlife paintings that we’ll be auctioning off throughout the evening. And the silent auction is basically people using a number instead of their name, that way people don’t know who they are auctioning against.”

After the auction, attendees will be given the chance to either mingle with present company or join an evening hike down the boardwalk to the shores of Lake Apopka to watch the sunset with a glass of champagne in hand. 

Because this year’s event is taking place slightly later in the evening, Phipps said, they hope to encounter an array of fireflies decorating the night air with their enchanting bioluminescence on the walk back.

“We hope it takes on a more relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “ONP is usually closed in the evening and they  lock up the gate, so we’re giving people the opportunity to come in at dusk and to see what it’s like and enjoy the hike and the fireflies.”

The preserve relies completely on fundraisers, donations and grants to keep its doors open and continue restoration efforts. 

Phipps hopes the event will raise about $3,000 to $4,000, all of which would go toward the preserve’s mission of education regarding the balance between the environment and humans.

“It’s a great way to come into the nature preserve in the evening and really enjoy good fellowship and a little camaraderie and be able to support such an important project that really is a community project,” Phipps said.

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Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]

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