Houston's cultural kaleidoscope spiraled through the spectrum on Saturday. The day began with a cowboy parade through downtown and concluded with a chi-chi black-tie gala at Discovery Green.
No one was more aware of that broad scope of the city's complexity than Mayor Annise Parker. Early morning, she saddled up in western duds, riding a horse in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo parade. By 7:30 p.m., the mayor was dressed for schmoozing in a luxe party tent with the city's power brokers, social swells and other elected officials.
There were, in fact, so many city council members at the biennial "Gala on the Green" that emcee Jerome Gray quipped that the mayor had a quorum if a vote was required. In any event, the sellout crowd of 700 cast its vote on this night in the form of of greenbacks - expressing their support of Discovery Green.
The city's movers and shakers raised a whopping $1.3 million for park programs. That generous sum guarantees that Discovery Green activities for the next two years will continue in abundance and remain free to the public.
Taking bows for their successful efforts were gala chairs Carolyn and Matt Khourie and Bobbie and John Nau. Khourie extended the praise to Nancy and Rich Kinder, whom he described as the visionaries behind the development of Discovery Green. "They've given us a masterpiece. They've given us a masterpiece for downtown Houston," he said. Likewise, former Mayor Bill White, taking a break (well, not really) from his gubernatorial race for a night out with wife Andrea, was praised for his efforts in spearheading the park development. Also receiving rounds of applause were Scott McClelland and his H-E-B team for the company's support as presenting sponsor of the gala.
Arriving under a full moon, guests strolled the oak-shrouded entry walk to the accompaniment of a string ensemble. Crystal chandeliers glimmered overhead. Cocktails on the green were followed by dinner in the lavishly-decorated tent where the Events Co. created a verdant indoor panorama. Among the heavy-hitters filling the tables were Sara and Bill Morgan, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Fayez Sarofim, Katie and Pat Oxford, Cheryl and Percy Creuzot, DeeDee and Gilbert Garcia, Elyse and Bob Lanier, Chris and Don Sanders, Melissa and Bill King, park president Guy Hagstette and Discovery Green Conservancy board chair Brady Carruth.
Had they only known, diners might have given special attention to their dinner. The main course — comprised of Rio Grande Ranch flat iron steak with roja sauce, potato/poblano grantinée and tomato filled with creamed spinach — was the meal that Jackson Hicks and his Jackson & Co. had served at Jenna Bush's wedding in May, 2008. In place of wedding cake for dessert, the "Gala on the Green" crowd was treated to Hicks' famed strawberry shortcake.
While much of the guest list resonated with old guard figures and business impressarios, there was an impressive contingency of the next generation in the mix. Among them were Kara and Aaron Howes, Stephanie and Al Walker, Liz and Andy Stepanian, Victoria and Parker Johnson, Kelly and Harper Trammell, Tiffany and Charles Masterson and Anna and Joe Teargarden.
And because we love name-dropping and because there was such an impressive crowd at the "Gala on the Green," we want to name a few more guests — Karen and Roland Garcia, Lorraine and Ed Wulfe, Dana and Bill Hurt, Greg Ortale, Dawn Ullrich, Kitty and Richard Rabinow, Sharon Adams, Joe Cooper and the glamorous Jessica Rossman with her steady Gordon Bethune.