A new presenting sponsor has brought a new name to the Westerville Sunrise Rotary's largest annual fundraiser.
Formerly the Wendy's Chili Open, the Kroger Chilly Open is scheduled for Feb. 2 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Rotary organizers already were considering the name change earlier this year when Wendy's announced that it was pulling out as title sponsor of the 17-year-old event.
"For the first 16 years of this event, the title sponsor has been Wendy's. The event is actually owned by our Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club," said Pat Kemmer, one of the event's organizers. "Wendy's determined that they could no longer provide the funding to support their sponsorship of the event. At that point in time, we turned to Kroger who was another major event (sponsor) to see if the title sponsorship would be of interest to them.
"We were in process of rebranding the event anyway."
The rebranding will not change the mood or set-up of the event, Kemmer said.
As always, the event will feature food from local restaurants, live music, silent and live auctions and zoo-wide entertainment, as well as The Children's Open, which will provide supervised entertainment for children ages 5 to 12.
"The theme of the event, the purpose of the event remains unchanged. It remains about fun, food and children's charity," Kemmer said. "It will be a totally seamless transition. It will be more of an administrative thing than anything else."
But Wendy's is out and Kroger is in as the presenting sponsor, thus the change from Chili Open to Chilly Open.
In its 16-year history, the event has raised $1.9 million for local children's charities, such as the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Children's Hunger Alliance, Flying Horse Farms, Mount Carmel St. Ann's, the Ohio Troopers Caring Fund, the Sunrise Rotary Foundation, the Westerville Area Resource Ministry, Buckeye Ranch and Nationwide Children's Hospital.
It is one of the largest one-day fundraisers organized and planned by Rotary Clubs nationwide, organizers said.
Kemmer said the Westerville Sunrise Rotary is excited to have the support of Kroger in putting on the 2013 event.
"They're a natural partner for us on this, and they're a wonderful partner. They stepped up to the plate immediately," Kemmer said. "Kroger brings a lot to the table with their corporate programs, so it's really great for us to be able to work with them. We look for them to be a title sponsor for a long time to come."
In addition to Kroger, this year's event is sponsored by Papa John's and media sponsors WBNS 10TV, The Columbus Dispatch, WCOL 92.3, ClearChannel Outdoor and ThisWeek Community News, which produces the Westerville News & Public Opinion.