2012 May 3

All Hats Are On!

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Gillian Miniter, Anne Harrison Gillian Miniter, Anne Harrison
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(NEW YORK) What does it take to raise $6.5 million dollars? If you're the Central Park Conservancy, you just throw a lunch. On Wednesday afternoon, the organization celebrated the 30th Anniversary of its now-famous  Frederick Law Olmstead Awards luncheon, and despite a mild mist, the mood inside the tent erected inside the Conservatory Garden was relentlessly sunny.

Over twelve hundred women turned out in their Wednesday best to ogle one the hats and fascinators in a display that may have put last year's Royal Wedding to shame. Martha Stewart documented the whole thing for her blog while confessing that her own chapeau, a wide-brimmed straw style, was tame in comparison. Needless to say, Bill Cunningham was on his toes.

The gregaious Anne Harrison, the current president of the Women's Committee, warmly welcomed the guests and presented the FLO Award to her predecessor, Gillian Miniter, who spearheaded the fundraising of over $13 millon during her tenure. (Reminder: The CPC provides $85% of the Park's annual operating budget of around $37 million.) Despite the park's peerless beauty, Miniter said, what she likes best is that "it's open to everyone." The Corporate Leadership Award went to Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JP Morgan Asset Management, who concluded her speech by announcing a $3 million donation to restore playgrounds on behalf of the firm.

Katie Lee was on hand as Clos du Bois ambassador to encourage the ladies to taste the Chardonnay, not like they needed much pushing. The party favors - a Tiffany blue canvas tote from, yes, the event sponsor Tiffany & Co., and an Evelyn Lauder-designed compact - were the things to fight over. (Well, that and photo ops. You know who you are!)

After a luncheon of puréed asparagus soup and poached chicken salad---and some extremely tasty sorbets/cake confecetion---the ladies gradually filtered out onto Fifth Avenue while picking up the latest edition of the Wathne umbrella they've come to depend on. "Is it raining?" asked one woman from underneath a veritable lantern of straw. "I hadn't noticed."

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