Society / The Seen

Houston’s Most Magical Neighborhood Parks Get a Blockbuster Night — West U’s Green Power

Revelers Go Medieval for One Magical Evening

BY // 02.17.20
photography Katy Anderson Photography

West University Place is one of Houston’s most magical neighborhoods — a small town within the confines of a big city, where Little League rules and fabulous parks and the local ice cream shop (Tiny’s Milk and Cookies) are just a short walk away.

Those very parks — Colonial, Friends, Huffington, Jennie Elizabeth Hughes, Judson, Liberty Hill, West U Rec Center, Whitt Johnson and Wier, to be specific — were celebrated by some 600 black-tie-clad revelers at the 2020 Park Lovers’ Ball at Hilton Americas-Houston. A castle-themed backdrop and ethereal garden-inspired decor brought the Medieval Knight in the Park theme to life.

Guests posed for festive GIF-style pics in the Smilebooth and had their portraits made by two talented caricature artists before getting in convivial bidding wars with neighbors over coveted big board auction items like the Fathers & Flashlights VIP package and City of West U Colonial Park Pool VIP parking and silent auction items like Houston Astros tickets and a fajita party at Armandos. After all, it was for the parks, and the parks are for the children.

As green-space enthusiasts were seated for a multi-course dinner of Caprese salad, free-range chicken breast with rosemary dijon sauce and chocolate opera cake, family dentists Dr. Julie Longoria and Dr. Stephen Chen of West U Smiles sponsored a rousing game of heads or tails in which the winner won seats to next year’s gala.

Co-chairs Mary Frances and David DuMay and Kimberly and John Carr Eads presided over the evening, which honored IBC Bank, which was represented by its Houston president Jeff Samples. The total amount of funds raised for park’s coffers that evening was a record-breaking $490,000, with the live auction — which included vacations, an Argentinian dove hunt and two über-adorable puppies — responsible for an impressive $77,000 of that total.

One lucky raffle winner took home a handmade ring featuring a 17.02 carat gem-quality Madagascar morganite surrounded by pave-set diamonds in 18kt rose gold from Valobra Master Jewelers valued at $10,000.

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Thanks to tunes by Infinite Groove, the dance floor was packed with neighbors and friends until midnight.

In the history of the volunteer-based nonprofit The Friends of West University Parks Fund, more than $7.5 million has been donated by generous contributors and residents.

PC Seen: Friends executive director Donna LaMond, Friends chair Sami Morrison; auction co-chairs Laura Avila and Elizabeth Rambin; underwriting co-chairs Lindley Arnoldy with husband Jason and Emily Yardley with husband James; Kirsten and Rob Galtney, Kelly Beth Hapgood, Anna Stewart, Laura Anne and Stephen Baumgartner, Lauren and Danny Droubi, Stephen Jacobson, Mark Prescott, Peyton and Alex Popp, Stephanie and Ryan Fleck, Judy Cheng, Joni and Mark Fichter, John and Cherie Lindley, Denise and Ed Sobash, Scarlett and Scott Hankey.

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