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Walk on The Wild Side returns to party with the animals

A Meerkat is part of the Meerkat Manor exhibit at Chehaw Park.

A Meerkat is part of the Meerkat Manor exhibit at Chehaw Park.

ALBANY -- Chehaw Park is putting the finishing touches on its annual volunteer event, Walk on the Wild Side, at the animal park tonight. The event is presented by Friends of Chehaw and takes place from 6 p.m-9 p.m.

According to Doug Porter, executive director of the park, this year's adventure offers some exciting opportunities to view park animals and experience great music and food.

"Our primary goal is to get people out into the park at night," Porter said. "It's kind of cool to be there in the evening. As the light starts to fade and you hear the animals, you do find yourself looking over your shoulder."

Porter said the first stage of the party will be "people meandering through the pathways." After dark, the action will shift to the main plaza inside the zoo, where the music will begin. Brad Hallford, one of the original members of the Kinchafoonee Cowboys, is scheduled to perform.

Justin Garny, kitchen and event manager for Outback Steakhouse, said, "From corporate on down, Outback is happy to be joining with Friends of Chehaw" for the annual event.

"Chehaw came to Outback because they know we care about the event and because of their plans to open their new Australian outback wing. From what we've been told, you can find us there next to the kangaroos."

Garny described the planned Walk on the Wild Side entree as "woodfire-grilled prime rib, served with seasoned au jus."

Friends of Chehaw member Tom Seegmueller said there have been changes in the planned auctions this year, as well, and the nature of what participants could win.

"Some of the prizes are more in the nature of 'packages' this time," Seegmuller said. "We have an 'early bird' auction, a silent auction and, later on, we have a live auction."

Among the more interesting packages to be auctioned, according to Seegmueller, are a behind-the-scenes tour of MillerCoors Brewing Company, followed by a relaxing break at the brewery's company pub; a wheelbarrow filled with a case of wine; a canoe trip with noted historical re-enactor Ben Kirkland; and a half-day of home repair or improvements performed by Chehaw engineer Don Meeks.

One of Seegmueller's favorite packages, he said, is a full night of "hog hunting" with representatives of Jager Pro, a company specializing in hog-hunting techniques and equipment.

The Walk on the Wild Side event will be held "rain or shine," Seegmueller said, with special arrangements available in the case of rain. For ticket information, call (229) 430-5274.