Step one for getting ready for Hermann Park’s annual "Evening in the Park" gala, held outdoors at the city oasis: Ditch the high heels in favor of flats, and be prepared to do some walking. You are at the park, after all.
Step two: Be ready to take in the enchanting sights.
The 2017 gala, chaired by Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, and Yasuhiko and Akemi Saitoh, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Japanese Garden in the park; thus, a Japanese theme and cocktails in the outdoor space to kick off the evening were only fitting.
More than 540 guests, greeted by a dozen Taiko drummers as they entered the green space, sipped chilled sake shots and refreshing cocktails in tranquil surroundings, including plants, ponds, and a teahouse, before making their way to a large tent, situated between the scenic Jones Reflection Pool and McGovern Lake, for a multi-course "East meets West"-inspired dinner catered by A Fare Extraordinaire.
Mayor Sylvester Turner welcomed everyone before remarking on the Japanese Garden’s significance to Houston. “While all of our parks are vital places to our local community, full of memories, play, and vibrant culture, our Japanese Garden is a testament to Houston’s friendship with our sister city Chiba, Japan. Since its dedication on May 4, 1992, the Japanese Garden has fostered lively collaboration between our two cities," he said.
Also speaking to the crowd were Hermann Park Conservancy board chair Phoebe Tudor, who highlighted several improvement projects on the horizon including the restoration of the park’s historic clubhouse, to be named Lott Hall at Hermann Park, and conservancy president Doreen Stoller, who led a tribute to event honoree Joe Turner, the recently-retired Parks and Recreation department director, for his longtime support.
Capping off the evening were a performance by an Okinawan dance troupe, a dessert buffet, iced cappuccinos, and tunes by DJ MAV.
The gala raised $605,000 to support the restoration of the Japanese Garden and the Conservancy’s maintenance and stewardship initiatives.
Enjoying the evening were Allison and Troy Thacker, Cyndy Garza-Roberts and Thomas Roberts, Japan Consul General Tetsuro Amano, Ryan McCord, Marley Lott, Mo and Ric Campo, Dancie and Jim Ware, Isabel and Danny David, Carolyn and Jimmy Robertson, Anne and John Clutterbuck, Kim and Dan Tutcher, Susie and Sanford Criner, Cece and Mack Fowler, Gina and Devinder Bhatia, Joella and Steve Mach, Navin Subramanian, Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Lisa Johnson, and Lindsey Brown and Chris Shepherd.