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Society / Featured Parties

Beautifully Sublime and Playfully Ridiculous Hats Make Houston’s Loveliest Tradition Better Than Ever

$425,000 Raised and Chapeaus to Swoon Over

BY // 03.24.19

Ah, the beautifully bedecked swans, how they preened in the spring sunshine at one of Houston’s loveliest luncheons. For where else could you find such a well-heeled flock of ladies and gents sporting the sublime and occasionally the playfully ridiculous in chapeaux?

Hello, Hermann Park Conservancy “Hats in the Park” luncheon.

This day for the affair in Hermann Park’s Centennial Gardens could not have been more perfect — the temperature, the sunshine and the lack of humidity all in tune with the second day of spring. A virtual garden of flower-decked hats flourished in the sunshine as more than 400 guests sipped champagne around the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, the fountains dancing in the adjacent pond.

Even before the bevy sat down for lunch beneath an open-air tent (grass underfoot), the luncheon had already commanded $400,000 and by the time that City Kitchen‘s yummy scones, chocolate truffles and sandies had been consumed the total had reached $425,000 far surpassing the luncheon goal. Applause, applause for chairs Laura Wareing Wheless and Kelley Young. 

Those two created a challenge for the 2020 luncheon chairs — Mary D’Andrea, Gina Bhatia and Allison Thatcher — whose role was announced by conservancy board chair David Ruiz.

As is tradition Mayor Sylvester Turner  joined the party, this year wearing a dapper pork pie hat as opposed to last year’s monster 100-gallon hat. Remarking on the importance of rich park space on the national stage, he told the gathering, “You’re not just donating to a venue, you’re donating to the heart and soul of the city of Houston.”

And he pointed out, as is further “Hats in the Park” tradition, that a mature dogwood tree would be planted in honor of the day’s honoree, Jane Anderson Curtis, whose involvement with Hermann Park goes back some 25 years starting with Hannah/Olin Ltd., the landscape architecture firm which created the first master plan for the park. Since that time her participation has included serving on the board for 14 years and serving as president from 2003 to 2005.

In addition, she has served as the conservancy’s director of horticulture.

Mad hatters: Conservancy director Doreen Stoller, Bill Curtis, Phoebe Tudor, Susie Criner, Cece and Mack Fowler, Frances Marzio, Randa Weiner, Joella Mach, Heidi Smith, Linsay Radcliffe, Fady Armanious, Susie and Sanford Criner, Ceron, Merele Yarborough, Anne Chao, Ting Bresnehan, Leigh Smith, Isabel David, Franci Neely, Judy Nyquist and Stephanie Tsuru.

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