Society / Featured Parties

Fashionable Ladies, Flying Hats and a Beaming Mayor — Houston’s Beloved Hats in the Park Makes a Triumphant Return

So Much Style and a Record Money Earner Too

BY // 03.29.22
photography Jenny Antill

It’s one of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner‘s favorite events and we are certain that the majority of those gathered in the open air tent in McGovern Centennial Gardens would agree that Hermann Park Conservancy’s “Hats in the Park” luncheon is one of the brightest events on the spring calendar.

Even with bustling winds that had ladies and gents grabbing at their flying hats and with the chillier than expected temps, this 13th ( almost) annual fundraiser was once again a crowd pleaser, especially after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. It was also a record money earner with proceeds of $493,537.

There was once again the glorious parade of hats — wide-brimmed chapeaux, fascinators, fedoras and Panamas with embellishments of flowers, ribbons and tulle — and of frothy spring frocks, all of which have been tradition since founding of the luncheon by Susie Criner in 2007. With more than 370 guests sartorially saluting spring, this tableau was rich in so many ways.

Luncheon chairs Christine Falgout-Gutknecht, Melissa Holman Juneau and Lori Sarofim represented a welcome younger generation of park supporters as does conservancy board chair Kristy Bradshaw. While not leaving the premises, longtime patrons such as Cece and Mack Fowler, Sanford Criner (all in attendance), and honorees Sandy Godfrey and Franci Neely welcome another generation of support.

“This year marks 30 years since Hermann Park Conservancy was founded and since then, the improvements they’ve overseen can’t be understated,” Bradshaw told the gathering. “However, there’s so much more in store for Hermann Park and it’s just on the horizon.

“It’s hard to believe, but next week we break ground on the next step of the Play Your Park campaign, The Commons – 26 acres in the southwest corner of the park that will be completely revitalized and reimagined.”

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Wearing her traditional hard hat decked in flowers, conservancy president and CEO Doreen Stoller then invited all to pick up a glass of champagne and join the Hermann Park Railroad for a ride through the area to be developed as The Commons with the groundbreaking taking place this Saturday.

Mayor Sylvester Turner at Hermann Park Conservancy's Hats in the Park luncheon (Photo by Jenny Antill)
Mayor Sylvester Turner at Hermann Park Conservancy’s Hats in the Park luncheon (Photo by Jenny Antill)

If there had been a prize for the largest hat it would have gone to April Salazar whose ginormous white chapeau topped with a colossal white flower was her own creation designed to match her white lace ensemble. Acclaimed hat designer Teressa Foglia took a break from her stint at the Round Top Spring Antiques Show to view the hat extravaganza. And as he has done since taking office, Mayor Sylvester Turner sat down for lunch and later praised the event, confirming that it is one of his absolute favorites.

PC Seen: Laura McWilliams, Wendy Hines, Mindy Hildebrand, Cynthia Petrello, Ting Bresnahan, Isabel David, Lauren Randle, Meredith Flores, Lisa Helfman, Laura and Vineet Bhatia, Heidi Smith, Estela Cockrell, Melissa Mithoff, Stephanie Tsuru, Brittney Tribble, Lynn Wyatt, Linda McReynolds, Hallie Vanderhider, Phyllis Williams, and Leigh Smith and Kelley Lubanko who have signed on with Bradshaw to chair next year’s luncheon.

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