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Great way to celebrate Earth Day: Reserve a spot at Evanston's Green Ball

This year's third annual Evanston Green Ball, the city's premier environmental event, will showcase the best local restaurants and live music from Grammy Award winners to raise funds for the Evanston Ecology Center, which is celebrating 40 years as the city's sole community center devoted to environmental education.

  The 2014 Green Ball, hosted by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and the City of Evanston, is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, May 30, at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston. All proceeds will go to support the Ecology Center’s programs and operations, and this year will primarily target classroom upgrades and improvements to the animal environments.

 The EEA, the nonprofit organization that supports the Ecology Center, has announced that participants can take advantage of an “early bird” ticket price of $65 through May 2. After that, the "regular" ticket price of $75 will be in effect.  "Friend of the Ecology Center" tickets are also available at $100, and purchasers of those tickets will be listed in the event program.  All tickets include food, drinks and live entertainment.  Wine can be purchased separately.

 Tickets sold out last year, so the EEA encourages people to buy them early this year by visiting www.evanstonenvironment.org/greenball.html or paying by cash or check at the Ecology Center at 2024 McCormick Blvd. The 2014 Green Ball will feature: 

 • The “Taste of Evanston”--free food from the best local restaurants, caterers and green grocers, including Hecky's Barbecue and Whole Foods Market;

• Drinks from Green River, Goose Island and Sips on Sherman (formerly WineStyles Evanston);

• Live music from the reggae band Gizzae, which includes Grammy Award-winning artists;

• Eco-fashions from local designers and a showcase of Evanston’s best green groups;

• One-of-a-kind "packaged" raffle prizes.

 “The annual Green Ball is the Ecology Center's premier event and we’re grateful that it helps us provide programs that educate and inspire people to appreciate the environment," said Claire Alden, a program manager at the Ecology Center. "This year's Green Ball will provide a fun way to say happy birthday to the Ecology Center, but it’s also our chance to say thank you to the community for supporting us throughout the year."

 For 40 years, the Evanston Ecology Center's mission has been to serve as the area's top resource for programs that foster a greater appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the environment. That includes plant identification and animal study classes, popular eco-summer camps, and fun events, such as bird-watching canoe trips and a Halloween party that teaches children about plants and animals that glow in the dark. The Ecology Center features a multi-purpose community room that hosts birthday parties, as well as a classroom that also serves as home to "critters," including rabbits, a prairie dog, snapping turtles, snakes and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

 Green Ball sponsors include the Archer-Patterson Family Foundation, Evanston Subaru in Skokie, Roberts Architects and Construction, Whole Foods, the Evanston Roundtable, Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, and WinSol Power Company.

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