David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

7 May 2009

A break in the rain during the day

May 7, 2009. A break in the rain during the day; followed by a deluge in the late hour of the evening.

Yesterday it was the Hats.
The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon in the Conservatory Garden of Central Park. The 27th Annual, presented by the Women’s Committee. This year the award was presented to Angela and Wade Thompson. The Thompsons have a long record of supporting the Central Park Conservancy and have participated in almost every Conservancy program for the past two decades. Most recently they made a leadership gift that made possible a complete restoration of the landscape between the Loeb Boathouse and Bethesda Terrace.

The benefit committee was headed by Vicki Foley, Muffy Miller, Gillian Miniter, Tara Rockefeller, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff with Jeff Peek as Corporate Chairman, and more than 200 committee members along with many others who are responsible for making this such an extraordinarily successful event.

Awards aside, this luncheon is one of the highlights of the Spring social season in New York. About twelve hundred attend and I’d guess about a thousand or more of them are women who honor what is now the tradition of wearing a hat.

It began at 11 with a reception at the bottom of the Garden steps and was scheduled for lunch in the tent at 12:15, although by 12:30 people were just beginning to move. They loved being outside (thankfully no rain) and just standing around chatting and looking. So much and so many to see. It’s a relief moment in New York right now, for those attending, and an amusement, as well as a chance to see so many friends and familiar faces at one time.

Some, even many women, don’t wear a hat. Many don’t feel comfortable. While others go all out and get very creative. This was the first Conservancy Luncheon for Vicky Ward, the British-born journalist for Vanity Fair. She of course had been wearing hats, as the Brits are wont to do, for so many social occasions over there, but had got used to not wearing one over here, so it felt kind of odd/different.

JH and the Digital took a good look at the clamoring crowd during the reception, many of which we’re running today. Afterwards I went covered the tables in the tent and photographed some of the most interesting, or most creative, or more elaborate, or ... fill in the blanks (which we will be running tomorrow). It was a lot of fun. Meanwhile, back to business, despite the definite slow-down in fundraising here in New York, they raised $2,128,326 yesterday in the Park. The Women’s Committee funds 20% of the cost of maintaining the Park and this is a great gift for the cause. Meanwhile, enjoy.

Alison Minton, Kathleen Giordano, and Michelle Marie Heinemann