A Tip of the Hat to Those Who Keep Forest Park Thriving, Forever

Overcast clouds and St. Louis’s trademark humidity didn’t stop the 24th Annual Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon from shining brightly in the heart of Forest Park. In fact, this year’s event was our biggest one to-date!

Hosted within our historical World’s Fair Pavilion, the luncheon brought together some of the region’s biggest hat enthusiasts.

As usual, the competition for bragging rights was friendly, but fierce. So fierce, in fact, that some hat enthusiasts admitted they spend an entire year researching, planning and building unique hats, just for our luncheon.

With two new categories — “stl250” and “Best in Show” — bringing the total number of categories to six, our anonymous judges had their hands full as they carefully inspected more than 1,000 hats. 

This year’s Stifel Hat Contest winners were:

  • Willa Allen
  • Carrie Martin 
  • Ann Perry


  • Sally Roth
  • Marsha Schuman 
  • Dot Soldavani


  • Karley King
  • Jay Reiter 
  • Anacleta Steffan 


  • Linda Hall
  • Pam Trapp
  • Cheryl Verde


  • Diedra Gray
  • Chelsey Oliver 
  • Barbara O’Malley

Best Themed Table

  • St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles 
  • Best Male Hat: Dr. Benjamin Akande
  • Best in Show: Sydney Cross

But this big event isn’t just about the array of headwear, ranging from blinged-out ball caps to battery-operated chapeaus and sassy summer sunhats. It’s not even about finding the perfect outfit and shoes to bring that special hat to life. It’s much bigger than that. 

How big? Check out our by-the-numbers snapshot to get a sense of how impactful this event is: 

  • $340,000: Amount raised by this year’s hat luncheon alone, which will enable Park maintenance and restoration throughout the year. 
  • 1,100: Hat enthusiast attendees during this year’s luncheon.
  • 152: Number of Mystery Blue Bags gifted to guests by Tiffany & Co. – giving them something shiny to smile about and raising $7,600 during the event.
  • 1: Lucky winner who took home a Neiman Marcus pamper package worth $575. 

Hat Luncheon Food for Thought
The Hat Luncheon is named after Hiram W. Leffingwell, whose vision resulted in the creation of Forest Park in 1876. The Leffingwell award is given advocates and supporters of the park whose generosity with their time, talent or resources have made a huge impact. This year, the honor was awarded to the William R. Orthwein, Jr. and Laura Rand Orthwein Foundation, for its long-term commitment and contributions to the growth of Forest Park. 

It was a special day that attracted more than its share of special guests, including Mayor Francis Slay (winner of the 2011 Leffingwell Award); Alderwomen Dionne Flowers, Tammika Hubbard, Christine Ingrassia, Carol Howard, Jennifer Florida, Donna Baringer, Marleen Davis and Lyda Krewson; and St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby.

If you’d like to become a member or learn about other ways to support our commitment to keep Forest Park thriving, forever, click here.