Thursday, May 5, 2016

It’s known in local parlance as the Hat Lunch

Guests congregate under the tent in the Italianate center garden of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. 12:13 PM. Photo: JH.
“To know and to serve God, of course, is why we’re here. A little faith will see you through. What else will do except faith in such a cynical, corrupt time? Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. Lacking any other purpose in life, it would be good enough to live for their sake.” Garrison Keillor

I am a longtime Garrison Keillor fan.
He’s about as American as you can get in my book. His words reflect tradition that we call Americana. Go gentle into that dark night. It’s a down-home, folksiness that is familiar to me, having grown up with parents who were children of immigrants, born at the beginning of the last century. Their hardships were eventually settled in that “gentleness” that Keillor refers to, and so it is as familiar to me as a childhood memory. And a rich comfort even if momentarily.

Norma Dana at yesterday's luncheon, who with the late Phyllis Cerf Wagner, Jean Clark and Marguerite Hillman Purnell, founded the Women's Committee in 1983.
Yesterday was the Frederick Law Olmsted Luncheon in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park behind the Vanderbilt Gates at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was a record attendance, over 1300, a huge fund-raiser, $3.9 million. The weather was not a deterrent.

It’s known in local parlance as the Hat Lunch. It is hosted by the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. This division of the Conservancy was founded by four women back in the 1980s when they decided to take the bull by the horn and clean up the Park so that it could look the way it looks today. Of those four, Norma Dana, a leader of the pack to some, was there yesterday, and pretty in pink.

NYSD covers this tribute to group efforts in improving the quality of life and community for what it represents. But truthfully, the main event is the HATS. I personally find it very amusing, some of the get-ups even make me laugh.  Creative and witty at times, it brings out the best of spirits. But mainly it’s the fun of it. And in its New York way, yet very down home. A gentleness.
Fred Shuman, who with his wife Stephanie, gifted the Conservancy with $5 million for the track around the reservoir. The Shumans were the honorees at this year's luncheon.
After lunch I walked down the avenue on the park side. The park above 86th Street is not nearly as visited as the acres below. So it is vast majestic spaces of hill and dale and lawn and forest, almost like virgin wood in the center of the metropolis. It was a drizzly, rainy-ish day, grey and temperatures in the almost chilly 50s. The tree trunks were darkened by the rains and above and all around were the contrast of the stunning virgin greens of Spring a-borning. It’s sensational and, again, a gentleness in the middle of the harried city.
The guests begin arriving at the Gates to the Garden at 11:30. JH was there to photograph the arrivals, gathering under the tented plaza. About 12:30 guests started moving toward the luncheon tent.

Contact DPC here.