The hats are the thing

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Thursday, May 2, 2019. It was chilly again, yesterday in New York. The sky was entirely overcast, that white-grey sheet of nothingness that casts a kind of individual pall over us. Pretty little May, as Oscar Hammerstein II referred to it, it was not.

However, nevertheless, the show goes on in New York, no matter, because up on 105th and Fifth Avenue behind the Vanderbilt Gates,  the Women’s Committee and Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy were hosting the 37th Annual — Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon also known from far and wide as “The Hat Lunch” — in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. 

Women’s Committee President Alexia Leuschen was joined by Central Park Conservancy President & CEO Elizabeth Smith, as well as Luncheon Co-Chairs Sharon Jacob, Sharon Teles, Elaine Textor, and Cynthia Wagner.  They greeted more than 1200 supporters. The event raised $4 million for the management and maintenance of Central Park.

Central Park Conservancy’s 37th Annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon co-chairs Alexia Leuschen, Sharon Teles, Sharon Jacob, Elaine Textor, and Cynthia Wagner.

The hats are the thing. We’re rescued however briefly by a small dose of nostalgia when the costume was like that, along with the stature and the manner in which it was expressed. Whimsical was wit, and you could see a certain pride of person among the women and their chapeaux. It’s the kind of “happening” that makes you laugh just witnessing the pleasure of the effort. Glamorous, whimsical, witty, chic and soigne; even Park landscaping! It began with the cocktail reception in the French Garden. This was followed by the luncheon and awards presentation under a beautiful blue and green garden themed tent designed by Andrew Pascoe Flowers. 

This year the committee honored Central Park Conservancy supporters and former Women’s Committee President Suzie Aijala, Women’s Committee Founder Norma Dana, and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Patricia E. Harris.  Honored for their extraordinary generosity and friendship. JPMorgan Chase served as the Corporate Chair.

The Benefit Committee and guests included Conservancy Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Kempner, Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Shirin Christoffersen, Tracey Huff, Karen LeFrak, Gillian Miniter, Marcia Mishaan, Elyse Newhouse, Amelia Ogunlesi, Jenny Paulson, Yesim Philip, Lela Rose, Fiona Rudin, Lauren Santo Domingo, Christine Schwarzman, Brooke Shields, and Martha Stewart.  Pierre Crosby was there taking it all in with his digital.

This dynamic collective was founded in 1983 by four women with a passion for preserving and beautifying Central Park and is governed by its own Board of Directors. Now with a membership of 1,000 women strong, Women’s Committee programs enable anyone to make a personal investment in the Park. For more information, visit

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