In the past 30 years, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum‘s Mad Hatter’s Tea has literally had everything from sunny days ripe for champagne to chills with heating lamps in the Ginsburg Plaza. But on Thursday, April 12, the 30th anniversary of the Mad Hatter’s Tea had more than candles being blown out. The 30+ MPH winds blowing the trees like waves in the sea were creating a challenge for the guests with the highly crafted chapeaus for Event Chair Venise Stuart‘s “A Garden By The Sea.” While Venise had envisioned the luxurious days of Newport and the Rockefellers, the translation was definitely all over the map. But just the presentation of the interpretations was a scene in itself with aqua blue being the dominant color du jour.
The valets had their hands full. The operation of extricating guests and their hats from their vehicles was challenging as some of the toppers almost took flight the moment the doors opened. At one point four cars were lined up. As soon as the first one took off, the valets looked in horror as the driver of the second car (a Mercedes) starting moving right along. The only problem was she was going in reverse toward a helpless Cadillac with its driver looking rather nervous. Within nano-seconds, the valet hailed the Mercedes driver to a halt.
Why at times the walkway from the driveway to the check in looked like a floral Frisbee tournament. Ah, but once inside the Ginsburg Plaza the blowing winds seemed to simmer down to a gentle breeze sheltering the guests as the trees overhead waved back and forth. Looking at the Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures doing what came naturally — spinning — Dallas Arboretum Gardens and Visitor Services VP Dave Forehand remarked that he was glad that the whirling artworks had been installed for the event.
Some guests looked like they had posted trophy fish atop their heads while other just flourished with feathers. Statuesque Carmen Hancock was one of the first victims of the blustery blow. Looking svelte having given birth three months ago, her sky-high blue chapeau toppled. As she tried to stop the fall, her purse spilled out cellphone, credit cards and things on the walk. Coming to her rescue was husband Trammell Hancock, her hat designer Shane Walker and co-hort Billy Fulmer, who tried to put the hat back in place and anchor. Carmen slightly protested saying that it didn’t fit. Evidently it fit well enough that it won “Grace and Folly Most Creative” with the judges.
Amber Ennis looked like she had wiped out Michael’s covered from head to heels in faux flowers; blond Cathy Vieth had a oversized pink sunhat with yellow and pink flowers that Mae West would have killed for; and there were other interpretations of the day’s theme ranging from Kathy Cothrum‘s suffragette look to the more whimsical ones with sailing ships. Despite that suggestion that PETA might be after her, Lynne Lowder had three goldfish in a mini-aquarium on her hat. Would they be dumped in White Rock after the competition? Nope. They will join the rest of the other fish in the family aquarium later in the afternoon.
A rumor was being floated the day before that one of the not-listed guests was being accompanied by a video crew. Word was spread that if such an entourage showed up, the police were to be called. No need. No video cameras showed up and there was plenty of security. You could spot them by their caps that didn’t budge despite the windy conditions.
Kendyll Clark and Kendell Liptrap used the day’s them “A Garden By The Sea” to promote their company MYX Blend Bar. Kendyll’s hat was a baseball-size pearl nestled in an open oyster that looked like lips. Kendell’s was more obvious being a towering bush with big, old luscious lips.
A woman approached a handsome fella saying, “I just love the way you do the weather.” The gent laughed saying he wasn’t WFAA meteorologist Pete Delkus. She realized her “oops” and said that she meant to say she appreciated his doing the scam reports. Again, he smiled and said, he wasn’t KDFW’s consumer reporter Steve Noviello. Preventing a possible third strike, he admitted that he was WFAA morning anchor Ron Corning. Immediately she asked if she could have her photo taken with him. Good naturally, Ron agreed and even held the cellphone for the unforgettable moment.
But soon the program got underway in Rosine Hall and some guests suffering from whiplash due to tall hats blocking their view.
Women’s Council President Melissa Lewis and Venise thanked the guests and sponsor. Emcee Jocelyn White introduced the past chairs and reminded guests that the funds raised would benefit “A Woman’s Garden.”
It was also announced that Honorary Chair Dr. Linda Burke and her husband, Dr. John Gilmore, were gifting the program with a water feature.
Auctioneer Wendy Lambert in closing down the shout-out for funding of “A Woman’s Garden,” suggested that if Hamilton Snead did a tap dance people might contribute. Hamilton rose from his chair but sat down. Wendy said, “Well, it looks like Hamilton isn’t going to dance unless you buy him.”
After the Tootsie’s fashion presentation and auctioneer Wendy’s sweet talking a lot of money for the fundraiser, it was time for the winners of the various categories. And the results were:
- Gilded Age True To Theme — Kathy Cothrum
- Elegance of Earlier Days — Julia Kanaan
- Peacocks on Parade Best Botanical — Carmaleta Whiteley Felton
- All That Jazz Best Group — Debbie McKeever‘s group
- To The Nine’s People’s Choice — Kunthear Mam Douglas
- Grace and Folly Most Creative — Carmen Hancock
Afterwards, hat designer Shane Walker walked around looking rather stunned saying, “This is my fourth year.” Yup, for the fourth year his creations had won official accolades.
For a heck of a lot more photos from the windy gathering, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery… and hold on to your hats.