Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Signature 108-Year-Old Park Gets a Big Boost From Two Powerhouse Femmes’ Creative Fundraising

A Train, Gardens, DJ Tunes and a Record Evening Outdoors

BY // 04.28.22
photography Daniel Ortiz

When generous (and high-style) philanthropists Hallie Vanderhider and Brigitte Kalai put their minds to something, get out of the way of these beloved steel magnolias. That could be said of Hermann Park Conservancy’s “Evening in the Park,” which the magnificent duo led to a record $700,000 in proceeds, topping the goal set by the conservancy.

This, one of Houston’s most popular evening fundraisers, drew a garden party-attired throng of more than 500 to celebrate the beauties of Hermann Park. And a beautiful night it was, which is not always the case as those who recall stormy downpours of the past would agree. The evening began with sunset cocktails on the banks of McGovern Lake from where guests could either promenade or hitch a ride aboard the Hermann Park Railroad to the Molly Smith Plaza where serious schmoozing was in order.

EITP2022 (148) – Brigitte Kalai, Hallie Vanderhider
Hermann Park Conservancy’s ‘Evening in the Park’ chairs Brigitte Kalai and Hallie Vanderhider

Participants delighted in the cocktail reception where supporters of the 108-year-old park cheerily engaged, sipped adult libations and noshed on hors d’oeuvres from City Kitchen. Always a treat on this evening is the miniature train ride through the park, a path that lands in the middle of the plaza. Always a happy spectacle to watch grownups hopping aboard and disembarking from the bright red carriages.

The evening honored park enthusiasts and supporters Kim and Dan Tutcher, who have enjoyed the park’s oak-shaded acres for 35 years. Kim joined the conservancy board in 2004 and along the way co-chaired “Hats in the Park” and “Evening in the Park” fundraisers.

“We know that with new immersive and inclusive play spaces, restored natural habitats and a place of respite for our health care workers and community, the Commons will be a place for everyone to call their own,” conservancy board chair Kristy Bradshaw says, referring to the $46.5 million just-launched project. “The future looks bright for Hermann Park.

“So tonight, we are here to celebrate all the improvements the Conservancy has accomplished in the past 30 years, and to make sure the next 30 years of improvements starts on the right foot.”

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EITP2022 (167) – Danny and Isabel David, John and Kristen Berger
Danny & Isabel David, John & Kristen Berger at Hermann Park Conservancy’s ‘Evening in the Park’

The throng was seated for dinner in the vast party tent where the chairs had commanded a lush and beautiful decor. Think vibrant florals and opulent chandeliers. City Kitchen, as expected, delivered handsomely on the dinner featuring Skuna Bay salmon. The catering firm closed out the evening with traditional dessert buffet that followed on the plaza where DJ Kalkutta provided the spins.

PC Seen: Bashar Kalai, Sallie and George Alcorn, Susie and Sanford Criner, Rose Cullen, Kristen and John Berger, Roslyn and Derrick Mithell, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Chris and Divya Brown, Van Ngo and David Ruiz, Heidi and Marcus Smith, Laura and Brad McWilliams, Melina and John Bishop, Isable and Danny David, Caroline Le Feuvre and Jeff Shaddix, Chris Bradshaw, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Kathy and Travis Boeker, and conservancy president and CEO Doreen Stoller.

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