On the eve of FLO’s 200th birthday, with spring flowers blooming in New York City’s Central Park, 250 guests attended the “Olmsted 200: Parks for All People” gala hosted by the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) at picturesque Loeb Boathouse.
Martha Stewart joined us for cocktails in the garden, wearing green for parks, while our brand new 9 1/2 -foot-tall “Big Head” FLO designed by NYC costume designer, toy and puppet maker Randy Carfagno entertained our guests and posed for pictures on the green carpet.
As the crowd mingled and moved indoors for dinner, guests enjoyed centerpieces by The Garden Club of America’s Floral Design Committee, an FLO cake from NYC’s Empire Cake, and a custom cocktail (with coffee and pickles) called the Olmsted.
NAOP President and CEO Anne “Dede” Neal Petri welcomed everyone with a rousing happy birthday to Frederick Law Olmsted and led the room in rounds of applause for Olmsted scholar Charles E. Beveridge and founding head of the Central Park Conservancy Betsy Barlow Rogers.
Central Park Conservancy President and CEO Elizabeth “Betsy” W. Smith welcomed everyone to Central Park.
Before dinner, Dede also welcomed NYC Parks Commissioner Susan M. Donoghue, who spoke about the importance of parks and read from a proclamation honoring FLO by NYC Mayor Eric Adams.
After dinner, Brooklyn Botanic Garden President Adrian Benepe led a table-by-table roll call of all the parks conservancies represented in the room— from Seattle to Louisville to Boston and across NYC and New York state.
He then introduced three guests who offered moving and personal tributes to Mr. Olmsted: landscape architects Laurie Olin and Sara Zewde and philanthropist and film producer Michael Messner.
Raising a very special glass of champagne grown on the Biltmore Estate, author Hugh Howard led a final toast, as guests were invited to enjoy a piece of birthday cake at the evening’s close.
To view a full selection of photos from the evening by legendary New York photographer Patrick McMullan, click here.