At its 25th annual Zoomerang!, the Maryland Zoo celebrated its annual gala's reputation as one of the hottest summer parties in town. Sometimes that term becomes quite literal, since the party is always set outside, along a course through the zoo itself. Sticky summer temperatures - or a summer downpour - can wilt more than a few long gowns and tuxedos, but not this year. Mild temperatures and a slight breeze only heightened the celebratory atmosphere.
"Marvelous evening. Great weather," said Suzanne Amos, who co-chaired the party with husband Stuart Amos.
"We have a break tonight with the weather. People are going to have a ball," Don Hutchinson, Zoo president and CEO, said.
This year, some 2,000 guests poured through the zoo gates to sample dishes from scores of local restaurants and caterers, and to dance to the tune of four bands. So what keeps the party itself going strong?
"The fact that it's an outdoor party, and that everybody gets to mingle here at the zoo ... as opposed to being trapped in an indoor arena celebrating just at your own little table," said board chair Chris Pope.
"It's the one fundraiser you can count on every year to be a helluva good time," WBAL-TV news anchor Donna Hamilton said. It was obvious she and her husband, David Paulson, had come to the party in that "good time" frame of mind. While the Hamilton was dressed in a shimmering cocktail dress, Paulson sported an outfit also spotted every year at the shindig - tuxedo jacket and shorts.
Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at baltimore.com/scene
A DRINK WITH
Warren Brown, 37, is a former federal attorney who left his practice in 2000 to start a cake bakery business. That business, CakeLove, has since grown to include five stores in DC, Virginia and Maryland. His first CakeLove in the Baltimore area opened in Canton this February. Brown lives in the Petworth neighborhood of northwest D.C. with his fiancee Pam Young, a financial analyst.
What was the biggest surprise for you in this venture?
How liberating it feels to put stuff together. Even though you're tied to your business and that's somewhat limiting. It gives you an immense sense of pride and confidence when things work. It does wonders for your soul. I sincerely wish this for everybody. Those who want it.
Do you cook when you're not at work?
Yeah. I'd say, like, two to three times a week, as long as I'm in town and things are normal, which they are not. ... Butternut squash. Bone-in, skin-on chicken breast. Rice. White jasmine rice. Scones. At home, I make my own scones. At home, I make crazy combinations of cookies pineapple, white chocolate and cayenne.
Read more of the conversation with Warren Brown at baltimoresun.com/drink