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Memorial Park Conservancy Annual Gala: Picnic for the Park


Photos Courtesy of Jenny Antill

The elegant Forest Club hosted Memorial Park Conservancy’s Annual Gala: Picnic for the Park on Thursday, February 8, 2018. The beautiful evening honored Terry and Tommy Smith, honorary co-chairs, and Josh Solera, Ima Hogg Volunteer of the Year. Rosanna and Myron Blalock and Gayle and Richard Hightower shone as gala co-chairs. Linda Lorelle, award-winning former evening anchor on ABC 13, was the perfect emcee for the evening.

The gala, which attracted 400 guests, also marked the Conservancy’s two-year anniversary of managing and operating Memorial Park, which it does in partnership with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. It also highlighted the progress of the Master Plan currently underway in the park’s Eastern Glades. 

The scene was set for this intimate French Country-themed picnic with charming blue-checkered tablecloths, potted plants, lavender, wildflowers, and greenery. Rustic meals of cheese and charcuterie, BBQ, brisket, fried shrimp, and decadent sides, were especially prepared by The Forest Club. All were packed in wicker picnic baskets for guests to enjoy. The attire, “bee casual, no ties” added to the laid-back gala’s relaxed vibe. After dinner, guests hit the dance floor with tunes provided by DJ Damon Pampolina. 

The successful evening raised over $375,000 for Memorial Park Conservancy.

Guests: Shellye Arnold and Tina Sabuco; Linda Lorelle and Lou Gregory; Nancy and Butch Abendshein; Laurie and Blake Liedtke; Lisa and Downing Mears; Karol and Paul Barnhart; Judy and Charles Tate; Bonner and George Ball; Tammy and Steve Jenkins; Mayor Pro Tem, Ellen Cohen; Council Member Mike Knox; Council Member Amanda Edwards; Council Member David Robinson; Council Member Jack Christie; James and Rita Koski; Beth and Zet White; Pam and John Breeding; Janet and Paul Hobby; and Robin and John Wombwell.

About Memorial Park Conservancy

Memorial Park Conservancy is a nonprofit organization created to restore, preserve, and enhance Memorial Park for the enjoyment of all Houstonians, now and in the future.  Incorporated in 2000, the Conservancy’s vision is to implement the principles of world-class park management and stewardship in partnership with the Houston community. A volunteer board of directors is led by Chairman, Steve Jenkins, and a highly qualified staff works under the leadership of President & CEO, Shellye Arnold. As of February 2016, Memorial Park Conservancy is operationally responsible for managing 1,100 of the park’s 1,500 acres, including the green spaces, open spaces, and trails. 

For more information on Memorial Park Conservancy, please visit:

About Memorial Park Master Plan

On April 1, 2015, Houston City Council unanimously approved the long-range Master Plan for Memorial Park. The plan, which provides a comprehensive vision to create a healthy balance between conservation and recreation, was designed by award-winning landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz.  A collaborative partnership between the Memorial Park Conservancy, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Uptown Houston Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone led the planning process with input from stakeholder groups and the general public.  Seeking to enhance, preserve, and protect Memorial Park for years to come, the Master Plan projects identified for early attention were selected to meet the wide variety of user needs within the park.  The first project of the master plan, the Eastern Glades, will open in 2020. The $36 million project has over 100 acres and will itself be one of the largest new parks in Houston. It includes a 5-acre lake, picnic areas, the expansion of the Seymour Lieberman Running Trail to a full three miles, restroom facilities, and a food truck area. Funding for Master Plan projects will come from both public and private sources.  

For more information on the Master Plan, please visit

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