On October 23rd, 2020, youth aviation program Tuskegee NEXT partnered with B2 Aviation to host an “invite only” dining and cocktail networking event at the DuPage Airport in West Chicago, Illinois. The event space was donated by the DuPage Airport and included a cocktail hour and cocktail attire dinner served.
The guest of honor was prominent actor, local Fox Valley resident and current star of the television show “Blue Bloods” Donnie Wahlberg, a supporter of Tuskegee NEXT’s mission. Mr. Wahlberg provided a speech via video, as he is currently filming the current season of his television show, and was gracious enough to provide the program with a generous donation to further Tuskegee’s mission of training the next generation of aviation professionals.
The event was a two (2) fold endeavor, as guests would arrive at the Autobahn Country Club and have access to various high-end performance vehicles to drive. They also participated in an informational overview of the aviation industry and the mission of Tuskegee NEXT. Following the Autobahn, the event moved to the evening’s cocktail and dinner portions of the event.
Guests were seated in the spacious DuPage Flight Center of the DuPage Airport, ultimately seated at eight (8) foot long tables with couples paired together to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines. Guests were placed a minimum of six (6) feet apart with face coverings required to be worn. Hand sanitizer and face coverings were provided by Tuskegee NEXT for guests and event participants, with temperatures taken prior to gaining entry to the event.
To observe COVID-19 related public health guidelines, the event was limited to 25 guests seated in the 3,000 square foot dinner space. To find their seats, guests were provided with a fun riddle game allowing them to locate their specific seats, with ordinary place cards replaced with custom rocks glasses containing an engraved Tuskegee NEXT logo on the bottom and each guest initial on the front.
The cocktail attire affair being coined “COVID cool” due to the event adhering to the public health guidelines while offering attendees an exciting time. The event space was generously donated by the DuPage Airport, with special thanks to Executive Director Mark Doles for his efforts in making the event a success. The place card and associated materials were donated in part by Trever Scott of 8 Men Thorough, with the three (3) course meal provided by Chef Rich Mancini and his team. The bar was donated by event partner B2 Aviation and Poursouls Chicago, with the drinks provided by Jonathan Swain of Kimbark Liquors. The event planning and aesthetic of the event was donated by Shuki Moran of Exceptional Events.