Thursday, May 3, 2018

36th annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon

Walking the cherry tree allées on the way to the tent for lunch. 12:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, May 3, 2018. Yesterday was a very warm day in New York – 88 degrees and thereabouts, lotsa Sun, little humidity, So it was like a beautiful summer day-ish, as Spring is still just springing.

It was the day of the 36th annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden behind the Vanderbilt Gates at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue. And they had perfect weather.

Women’s Committee President Suzie Aijala was joined by Central Park Conservancy President and CEO Elizabeth W. Smith, as well as Luncheon Chairs Amandine Freidheim, Elyse Newhouse, Jenny Price, and Marie Unanue in welcoming the more than 1200 guests.
Peeking into the Park past the cherry trees and towards the tent.
The Women’s Committee is one of the most successful of its kind. It embodies the power of women in managing the community. Founded in 1983 by four prominent New York women -- who are now regarded as visionaries -- with one objective: to clean up, straighten, neaten up and conserve the Park for the citizens.

They first raised some money with a luncheon at the old Tavern on the Green. It wasn’t yet the “hat” luncheon. And they gathered more volunteers. 35 years later, their presence and influence has been a powerful assistance in making the Park what it is today – pristine, beautiful, useful for the citizens of all ages, and good thing for little ole Manhattan.
Luncheon Chairs Elyse Newhouse, Jenny Price, Marie Unanue, and Amandine Freidheim with Women’s Committee President Suzie Aijala (center).
Mitchell Silver, Betsy Smith, Thomas Kemptner, Judy Carson, Russell Carson, Doug Blonsky, and Suzie Aijala.
This annual luncheon  has its own unique energy compared to other prominent civic and social luncheons here in New York. The women dress for the Spring weather occasion, and especially with hats as part of their ensembles. All of which makes it a hot ticket. And the motivation is simple: it’s kinda fun; just plain fun. Aside from the reality of the funds raised, flowers are “in”  fashion-wise these days, floral prints galore were surrounding us. With that surrounding us was the feeling that people were really enjoying themselves just being in that environment for a few hours. It’s the Hats.

The event began with a reception under the wisteria pergola and tours of Conservatory Garden where the cherry tree allées and tulip gardens were in full bloom.  Then everyone moved into the beautiful pink and green garden themed tent designed by Andrew Pascoe Florals, for the luncheon and awards presentation.
The cherry tree allées and tulip gardens were in full bloom.
This year they honored Central Park Conservancy supporters Judy and Russell Carson -- for their extraordinary generosity and friendship; and former Central Park Conservancy President and CEO and current Senior Advisor to the President and CEO, Doug Blonsky, for his remarkable leadership. JPMorgan Chase & Co, represented by Kelly C. Coffey, CEO of the U.S. Private Bank and Central Park Conservancy Trustee, served as the Corporate Chair. 

The event also celebrated the Women’s Committee’s capital campaign for the restoration of the Conservatory Garden. The funds will repair the infrastructure and architectural components of the six-acre formal garden and home of the Awards Luncheon. To date, the Women’s Committee in its 35 year existence has raised $175 million towards the park’s maintenance, restoration, and enhancement.
The Benefit Committee and guests included: Conservancy Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Kempner, Women’s Committee Founder Norma Dana, Commissioner, NYC Parks Mitchell J. Silver, Liz Atwood, Jackie Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Katie Couric, Lise Evans, Sharon Jacob, Eleanora Kennedy, Karen LeFrak, Alexia Leuschen, Carol Sutton Lewis, Stephanie March, Gillian Miniter, Marcia Mishaan, Amelia Ogunlesi, Jenny Paulson, Yesim Philip, Amanda Thompson Riegel, Lela Rose, Fiona Rudin, Christine Schwarzman, Margaret Smith, and Martha Stewart.  

Guests on leaving received a signature umbrella from Wathne, Ltd; a gift from Estée Lauder. The Rosé was generously donated by Chateau d’Esclans. Blake the Butcher provided the mustard crusted filet mignon for the entrée. The event was catered by Sonnier & Castle.  Fabric for the tablecloths was provided by Scalamandré.  Central Park Conservancy volunteer hats were incredibly designed and donated by Patricia Underwood.

But the hats tell the story best and here’s what JH saw:

Contact DPC here.