Big Fish Ball

Update on Big Fish Ball, scheduled for June 2021

As the world faces the enormous challenges presented by the coronavirus, we at Friends of the Chicago River are striving to ensure the important work you support goes on—even as we make difficult but necessary decisions that will impact our efforts in the short term.

With the health and safety of our guests as our top priority, we regretfully announce the cancellation of the annual Big Fish Ball Gala, which was to be held in June 2021. 

Friends will continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape to protect our loved ones and our communities and remain focused on maintaining our programs, initiatives, and projects as best we can and that our work to improve and protect the Chicago River system will carry on uninterrupted through and past the pandemic. With your help, blue-green initiatives to make the river healthy will be implemented; litter in the river and adjacent banks will be removed; and we’ll be ready when schools begin to schedule field trips so students learn first-hand how important our river is to the community and the wildlife that call the river home.

As this pandemic has shown us, we are indeed living in a global community. More than ever, our lives and our waterways are intertwined. We sincerely appreciate your belief in and support of our work and our mission. It is needed now more than ever before.

Thank you for your understanding and all of your support for the Chicago River system and Friends. Despite our disappointment at this announcement, Frieds will have many exciting initiatives planned so that Friends can continue to take everything you love about the Chicago River system and make it even better. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to support our work.

Please consider a donation to Friends.

We wish you and yours well during this uncertain time.

About the Big Fish Ball

The Big Fish Ball is Friends' largest fundraising event that includes a fabulous cocktail hour that brings together 500 leaders and young professionals from the Chicago community to the river with an amazing opportunity to engage with river wildlife and a delightful three-course dinner and program that honors the recipients of the Chicago River Blue Awards, the highest achievement in river-sensitive designs along the river. The evening also includes a silent and live auction and a raffle featuring gifts and certificates from hundreds of local businesses. 

Your evening doesn't end at once the final music plays. You can make a whole night of it when you buy tickets to our special Shoreline Sightseeing After Party Cruise that immediately follows our gala. The cruise is a wonderful way to see the river and city’s amazing architecture in semi-darkness while sipping cocktails. 

2022 Big Fish Ball

Save the date: June 2022

To discuss sponsorship and table purchases or raffle/silent auction donations for the 16th annual Big Fish Ball, please contact Kim Olsen-Clark at (312) 939-0490, ext. 19, or  

Interested in volunteering next year?  We need greeters, raffle and silent auction volunteers, photographer assistants, and more! Contact Annette Anderson with any questions. 

It’s never too late to make a donation to support Friends. Learn how your gift supports the Chicago River system

Big Fish Ball Photographers: Ian Vecchiotti, Jordan Avery, and Emma Loew.