What could be better than hanging out with live penguins at the Florida Aquarium? How about signature cocktails and live penguins at the Florida Aquarium? Thought so. Now throw a legendary Tampa band like The Black Honkeys into the mix, and you’ve got the makings of one epic party.

On February 23rd, the USF Alumni Association will host the Green and Gold Gala, a cocktail party of legendary proportions celebrating the Alumni Association’s 50th birthday. Around 500 partiers are expected to pack the Florida Aquarium for a night of dancing and fun. Enjoy open bar (beer and wine) and heavy appetizers starting at 7 pm. At $70 for young professionals, this event is open to the public so no worries if you didn’t go to school there. Plus proceeds go towards student scholarships and programs, so you really are doing it for the kids.

There’s a lot going on at this year’s Green and Gold Gala and here are some of the event highlights.

The Penguins. Did we mention there will be penguins at this thing? A set of adorable penguins, sponsored by Carrabba's Italian Grill, will mix and mingle with partygoers. Did someone say penguin selfie because I’m totally down.

Signature cocktails. This year, The University of South Florida Alumni Associations have teamed up with Rock Brothers Brewing, an alumnus owned business in the heart of historic Ybor City. Rock Brothers and sister company SIP Consulting used their craft cocktail-making expertise to develop two signature cocktails. The Green Machine Cocktail is a vodka-based drink that packs plenty of flavor. It comes with a green light up cube. The Goldfinger Margarita, a strong, yet not overly sweet mango margarita, also comes with a gold light up cube that party-goers can sip all night long. So which one are you? Team green or team gold? If you want to pregame or make these at home, both recipes are available here.

Music. On the main stage crowd, favorite DJ by CJ will kick off the night right, followed by Best of the Bay-winning band, The Black Honkeys who will close out the night. Between sets, you can also visit the Bank of Tampa Lounge where the talented Katie Talbert will be playing soulful acoustic tunes in a cool intimate lounge.

Auction. There will be a live and silent auction this year with some of the most unique auction items you’ve ever seen. There will be everything from Hamilton tickets to luxury seven-day cruises up for auction, but the star auction items of the night will most likely be a puppy and kitten. That’s right y’all, you can bid on a real-life puppy or kitten up for adoption at the Green and Gold Gala and find them a forever home! If animals aren’t your thing there are a ton of items and experiences up for auction. Proceeds benefit student scholarships and programs so you can feel good about winning big!

Frozen Drinks on a Stick. BuzzPop Cocktails, the same cocktails you’ve seen at music festivals in Vegas and at Disney Springs will be at the Green and Gold Gala! After dancing to the Honkeys till your feet hurt, head on over to the Bank of Tampa lounge and grab a boozy cocktail on a stick from the BuzzPops bar. Favors will include Moscow Mule, Southern Belle Sorbet, Sangria, and Chocolate Bourbon, so there’s something for everyone!

Get dressed up! The dress code is cocktail attire with a touch of green or gold so throw on a sparkly gold party dress or a green tie and be ready to dance the night away with over 500 of your closest friends. For ladies looking for a cute and fun party dress, USF alumna-owned boutique Sweet Southern Chic is offering a discount on all green or gold dresses up until the event. Sweet Southern Chic is located in the heart of Palma Ceia and they even keep a list so no two ladies will show up to the same event in the same dress! If you are looking to get your hair and makeup done before the event Blo Dry Bar in the Westshore Business District is also running specials for blowouts and makeup up for attendees.

The Green and Gold Gala will be held on 2/23 at The Florida Aquarium. Tickets start at just $70 for young professionals. To purchase visit www.usfalumni.org/g3