Fun for the Whole Family

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Ellen Mathias, Adrienne Israel, Joyce Kwok, Shannon Robinson, Sugie Bruttomesso, Stuart Baldwin, Elizabeth Pyne Singer at the Playground Partners Annual Family Party.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Another gorgeous day yesterday in New York — with perfect temps in the low 80s and lots of Sun to encourage you to get out into the wonderful weather.

Speaking of perfect sunny days in New York, today we’re running an Annual Family Party that is held in Central Park every year for children as well as the grownups who get off on occasionally bringing out the child in themselves (along with real kids joining them in the festivities which mean fun for everyone). And even fun for you, the reader, to enjoy.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Art Students League held their annual Dream Ball with more than 400 attending, many in costumes, the kind which are designed to make you laugh at the wearers who were fitted to laugh along with you. Fun For the Whole Family.

On Wednesday, May 22nd, the Playground Partners, a program of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy, hosted their Annual Family Party. The event, which has been held for more than 30 years, took place at Hecksher Playground, and raised over $535,000 in essential funds for the maintenance and daily care of the 21 playgrounds in Central Park.

Betsy Smith, Jenny Price
Betsy Smith and Jenny Price.

The Conservancy’s longtime partner, Nordstrom, generously supported the afternoon fundraiser, returning as Principal Sponsor.

Each year, the Annual Family Party celebrates and supports the Playground Partners’ mission to provide all New York children with safe, clean, and accessible play areas. Central Park’s playgrounds, enjoyed annually by millions, embody the highest standards of safety, innovation, and creativity. The funds raised allow the Central Park Conservancy to continue its daily care of these beloved spaces.

“Seeing families come together to celebrate the Conservancy’s long-term commitment to the care of Central Park’s playgrounds is truly heartwarming,” said Jenny Price, President of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. “The Women’s Committee is deeply grateful to our generous members and sponsors for their ongoing support of the Conservancy’s work.”

The Annual Family Party’s afternoon of entertainment included an exciting range of sports, magic, music, and games, all fit for the family. Principal Sponsor Nordstrom treated kids to a Jibbitz shoe charm bar hosted by Crocs, as well as a sparkly crafting activity with Super Smalls. The 2024 Activity Sponsors were the New York Islanders and the Islanders Children’s Foundation, who organized a hockey activity, and Nuna Baby Essentials, who supported the stroller parking. This year’s main stage featured Kid Resident DJ for the Brooklyn Nets, DJ Annie Red, along with GRAMMY-award winner Tim Kubart.

“Central Park’s 21 playgrounds are a source of joy, recreation, and relaxation for children and families across New York City,” said Betsy Smith, President and CEO, Central Park Conservancy. “The support provided by the Playground Partners ensures that the Conservancy can continue to care for and maintain these cherished spaces so future generations of Park visitors can enjoy them for many years to come.”

Kids and families enjoyed a variety of donated activities including arts and crafts with The Craft Studio, baseball with New York Empire Baseball, and basketball with Fastbreak Sports. Additional offerings were donated by A La Mode Shoppe, Chess at Three, Emilia George, iCAMP, Juliette & Ella’s Playdate, Kids in Sports, Piano Buds in a Pod, and Super Soccer Stars.

Piano Buds in a Pod
Piano Buds in a Pod.
A Jibbitz shoe charm bar hosted by Crocs.
New York Islanders.
New York Empire Baseball
New York Empire Baseball.

Tim Kubart
Tim Kubart.
DJ Annie Red
DJ Annie Red.

Event Co-Chairs Stuart Baldwin, Sugie Hong Bruttomesso, Adrienne Israel, Joyce Kwok, Ellen Matthias, Shannon H. Robinson, and Elizabeth Pyne Singer were joined by Grandparent Chair Karen Thornwell May, Playground Partners Co-Chairs Kate Lauprete and Stephanie X. Stamas, Women’s Committee President Jenny Price and Central Park Conservancy’s CEO Betsy Smith.

Guests included Judy Hart Angelo, Katherine Birch, Katherine Gage Boulud, Mimi Ritzen Crawford, Kat Dines, Ainsley Earhardt, Gillian Hearst, Tracey Huff, Sharon Jacob, Dustee Jenkins, Meghan Klopp, Lucinda May, Heather McAuliffe, Melanie & Matthew McLennan, Gillian Miniter, Megan Stackhouse, Anna Bender-Zeckendorf and Will Zeckendorf, and Chris Wanlass.

The mission of the Central Park Conservancy Playground Partners is to maintain the quality and cleanliness of Central Park’s 21 playgrounds. The funds they raise go directly towards the preservation, care, and daily inspection of these play spaces. For more information on Playground Partners, please visit

Ellen Mathias, Adrienne Israel, Joyce Kwok, Shannon Robinson, Sugie Bruttomesso, Stuart Baldwin, Elizabeth Pyne Singer
Ellen Mathias, Adrienne Israel, Joyce Kwok, Shannon Robinson, Sugie Bruttomesso, Stuart Baldwin, and Elizabeth Pyne Singer.
Karen May, Lucinda May; Christopher Lally
L. to r.: Karen and Lucinda May; Christopher Lally.
Tracey Huff, Gillian Miniter, Jenny Price, Maureen Mulheren, Sharon Jacob
Tracey Huff, Gillian Miniter, Jenny Price, Maureen Mulheren, and Sharon Jacob.
Katherine Birch, Heather McAuliffe; Becky Yang Palmon, Alana Frankfort
L. to r.: Katherine Birch and Heather McAuliffe; Becky Yang Palmon and Alana Frankfort.
Tenille Skelton, Jennifer Manguino, Sayuri Ganepola-Kaczynski, Sugie Hong Bruttomesso
Tenille Skelton, Jennifer Manguino, Sayuri Ganepola-Kaczynski, and Sugie Hong Bruttomesso.
Kaitlin Pearson, Ji Park Kwak; Judy Hart Angelo
L. to r.: Kaitlin Pearson and Ji Park Kwak; Judy Hart Angelo.
Marie Langhout-Franklin, Chris Wanlass, Jin Churchill
Marie Langhout-Franklin, Chris Wanlass, and Jin Churchill.
Melanie McLennan, Matthew McLennan; Stephanie Stamas, Kate Lauprete
L. to r.: Melanie McLennan and Matthew McLennan; Stephanie Stamas and Kate Lauprete.

From the kiddie table to the adult’s table. This past Saturday night, The Art Students League hosted its annual Dream Ball, a bacchanal-inspired celebration with costumes, cocktails, music, and dancing. Over 400 guests attended the event throughout the League’s landmark building on W 57th Street to support its mission to make fine art education accessible to all.

For one night only, the League’s Vanderbilt Gallery was transformed into an Enchanted Ballroom and disco where guests danced to music by DJ Black Helmet and enjoyed sultry burlesque performances by Syn Sultress and Aquarius Moon. The acclaimed drag legend Murray Hill emceed a costume parade and contest after handing out golden tickets to guests dressed for the theme of ‘Maximalist Fairytale’. Prizes were awarded for the most creative looks with the grand prize including a gift certificate provided by Dream Ball partner Nordstrom.

Syn Sultress, Aquarius Moon
Syn Sultress and Aquarius Moon.
Murray Hill, Syn Sultress, Aquarius Moon
Murray Hill, Syn Sultress, and Aquarius Moon.

The League further transformed its historic home with themed rooms created by its visionary students and members including The Mushroom Grove, were party goers could stop for a quick snack and refreshments by Just Ice Tea beneath giant mushrooms and sparkling pine trees, The Dark Arts Studio, a haunted twist on a classic League drawing studio where attendees chose to play the role of artist or muse and get their portrait drawn or photo taken, and The Siren’s Cavern, staged to mimic the deep sea home of mermaids and sea witches where guests could receive a tarot card reading and pose with our deep sea art installations.

The League’s century-old tradition of the Dream Ball first began in the 1920s and became a legendary annual event in NYC well into the 1960s to raise funds for the school’s scholarship program. Originally held at the Waldorf Astoria and Plaza Hotel the event was renowned as a place where high society met the radical artists of the League in a bacchanal inspired by themes ranging from “Gods and Goddesses of the Greek Pantheon” to a celebration of “The World’s Most Famous Sinners.” The League remixed and reimagined the Dream Ball for the 21st century after a decades-long hiatus, reintroducing the must-attend party in 2023.

Siren Sponsors: Steven Durkee, Robin Frank, William Radin, Erica & Jack Howard-Potter, and Juliet Silva Yee. Host Committee: Burnside & Seifer, Yoko Cohen, Tanya Einford, JiaJia Fei, Madhu Powar Garg, Mark Gordon, Jim Keagy, and Nadja Sayej. Sponsors and Partners: Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, Fort Hamilton Distillery, City Winery, BFA, Equinox Hotels, Nordstrom, Surface, Materials for the Arts, Brooklyn Brewery, Powerhouse Arts, Brooklyn Brewery, Culture Pop Soda, Hal’s New York, Just Ice Tea, Jim Beam, Brooklyn Deli, and DigiBooths.

The Art Students League was founded in 1875 by artists, for artists, and provides inclusive, affordable, high-quality fine art education for all. The revival of this historic event fosters and grows the truly one-of-a-kind Art Students League community and all proceeds from the Dream Ball support the League’s mission to provide students with space to pursue their practice unconstrained by dogma, politics, or burdensome tuition.

Murray Hill, Eva Avenue, Michael Hall
Murray Hill, Eva Avenue, and Michael Hall.

Christopher Hardwick, Guy Richards Smit
Christopher Hardwick and Guy Richards Smit.
Costume Contest Contestants
Costume Contest Contestants.
Costume Contestant Tumbleweed
Costume Contestant Tumbleweed.
Costume Contest Winners
Costume Contest Winners.
Erica Howard-Potter, Jack Howard-Potter, Jacquetta Szathmari
Erica Howard-Potter, Jack Howard-Potter, and Jacquetta Szathmari.
Denise Greene
Denise Greene.
Dr. Ronald Frank, Robin Lechter Frank, Jack Howard-Potter, Erica Howard-Potter
Dr. Ronald Frank, Robin Lechter Frank, Jack Howard-Potter, and Erica Howard-Potter.
Ed Woodham
Ed Woodham.
Patrick Weber, Gabe Dewey, Melissa Chang, Susana Picheny, Adam Glick
Patrick Weber, Gabe Dewey, Melissa Chang, Susana Picheny, and Adam Glick.
Natalie White, Indira Cesarine
Natalie White and Indira Cesarine.
Nadja Sayej, Jacqui de Jong
Nadja Sayej and Jacqui de Jong.
Robin Lechter Frank, Michael Hall
Robin Lechter Frank and Michael Hall.
DJ Black Helmet
DJ Black Helmet.

Photographs by Matteo Prandoni/ (Playground Partners); Deonté Lee/BFA (Dream Ball).

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