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Houston’s Beloved $58 Million Park Celebrates a Milestone With the Ultimate Starry Night

Appreciating Buffalo Bayou Park

BY // 11.09.20
photography Jenny Antill Clifton

There could not have been a more perfect evening for the fifth anniversary celebration of the Houston’s beloved Buffalo Bayou Park. The socially distanced fundraiser, held under starry skies, found more than 130 guests dining at picnic tables and tables for two that were scattered across the grassy lawn above the historic Water Works.

A celebration it was as board chairman Jeff Taylor reminded that the 160-acre, $58 million park has received more than 20 urban design and planning awards including an Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence.

It was also an evening celebrating Anne Olson, whose 25 years of dedication to the foundation led to a city declaration by Mayor Sylvester Turner (in person, a special honor) naming November 5, 2020 as Anne Olson Day in Houston.

In another way, it was a celebration of generous benefactors Nancy and Rich Kinder, whose foundation contributed $38 million for the completion of the Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street Buffalo Bayou master plan.

“We could not have been here tonight without the help of Rich and Nancy Kinder,” Taylor told the gathering. “Because of their support, we are able to enjoy an evening like tonight.”

And a magical soirée it was from the garden lights strung overhead to the massive video screen for programming to the on-stage entertainment by José-Miguel Yamal and Phase One. Add a special performance of “Anthem of Hope: Houston Strong,” written by Anthony diLorenzo and performed by members of ROCO.

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Setting the scene for the luxe dinner were Bergner & Johnson which thoughtfully dressed the tables in bouquets of wildflowers. The multi-course picnic dinner, served in picnic baskets from A Fare Extraordinaire, was a treat especially the Texas pecan bars dipped in chocolate and the deep dish mixed berry cobbler.

In fact, we’re thinking we should have Rachel Volz and her team prepare the exact menu for our next takeout: Harissa Spiced Chicken Satays with Tzatziki Sauce; Grilled Vegetables and Saffron Pearl Couscous; Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, Capers and Gremolata; and Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

Applause, applause for chairs Winifred and Carleton Riser and Leslie and Shannon Sasser for the magical soirée that raised more than $350,000 for the foundation.

PC Seen: Kristen and John Beger, Guy Hagstette, Doug Lawing, Anne Whitlock and Michael Skelly, Lisa Helfman and Lee Haverman, Gayle and Bob Eury, Wendy and Shawn Cloonan, Geraldina Wise, Mike Garver, Gaynell Floyd Drexler, Kelly and John Mooz, Bo Fraga, and Alisha Nathoo.

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