Society / The Seen

Houston’s Own Real-Life Parks and Rec Team Enjoys a Starry Night

Vital Japanese Garden Spotlighted

BY // 05.11.17
photography Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parish

The Hermann Park Conservancy‘s 15th annual “Evening in the Park” enjoyed more moving parts than the whimsical train that carries visitors across the oak-shrouded oasis.

The al fresco evening celebrated the 25th anniversary of the park’s Japanese Garden, where the party began with a stirring crescendo from a dozen Taiko drummers and servings of chilled sake shots. Embracing the Japanese theme, many among the 540 guests dressed in Japanese-inspired threads. Likewise, A Fare Extraordinaire‘s dinner menu was a memorable East-meets-West creation, served in the party tent erected in the heart of the park.

“While all of our parks are vital places to our local community, full of memories, play, and vibrant culture,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told the gathering, “our Japanese Garden is a testament to Houston’s friendship with our sister city Chiba, Japan . . . We are lucky to have this symbol of Japanese friendship play such a vibrant role within Houston’s diverse community.”

Chaired by Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich and Yasuhiko and Akemi Saitoh, the evening raised more than $600,000 to support restoration of the Japanese Garden.

The evening also saluted just-retired Parks and Recreation Department director Joe Turner, who led the department for 13 years and was instrumental in realization of the various Hermann Park Conservancy projects.

Japanese entertainment included Shawn Renzoh Head on the traditional shakuhachi and a performance by the Tamagusuku-ryu Kayonokai and Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko dance troupes, performing a rousing lion-god dance and elegant classical Japanese dance.

In a wildly generous nod of support to the conservancy, Bulgari provided a bottle of one of its various coveted perfumes to each guest as a partying gift.

Who: Conservancy board chair Phoebe Tudor, Conservancy director Doreen Stoller, Ann Kennedy and Geoffrey Walker, Joella and Steve Mach, Lindsey Brown and Chris Shepherd, Allison and Troy Thacker, Carolyn and Jimmy Robertson, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, and Consul General of Japan Tetsuro Amano.

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