Forest Park Forever’s 24th Annual Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon Raises $340,000 for Critical Park Maintenance and Restoration


Contact: Jasmine Evans: (314) 960-3499;


ST. LOUIS, June 10, 2014 – On Thursday, June 5, Forest Park Forever welcomed more than 1,100 guests in fine spirits and fanciful hats to the organization’s 24th Annual Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon, held at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. The popular annual event raised $340,000 for St. Louis’ beloved Forest Park. The funds will support Forest Park Forever’s ongoing maintenance and restoration efforts, essential to ensuring that Forest Park remains beautiful and accessible for more than 13 million visitors each year.

The luncheon’s Platinum sponsors, Emerson and Stifel, were joined in support of the event by Gold sponsors the Crawford Taylor Foundation, Edward Jones, Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Monsanto Fund, and Silver sponsors Ameren Corporation, Judith & Dennis Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors. Additional sponsors also provided critical and generous funds. A complete list of sponsors can be found at

The Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon was created to pay tribute to the spirit of Hiram W. Leffingwell, whose vision resulted in the creation of Forest Park in 1876. The event’s centerpiece is the presentation of the Leffingwell Award, bestowed upon corporations, foundations or individuals who have made a significant contribution of time, talent or resources to the restoration of Forest Park. The 2014 Award recognized the William R. Orthwein, Jr. and Laura Rand Orthwein Foundation, which for decades has contributed significant, meaningful funds to restore and sustain Forest Park. Foundation trustee Stephen C. Jones accepted the award and delivered remarks about the Orthweins’ sustained commitment to Forest Park.

This year’s Hat Luncheon co-chairs, Susan Buford and Alison Ferring, led Forest Park Forever’s 150-person Women’s Committee in planning and raising funds for the event. In their remarks, Buford and Ferring reminded all guests that in order for Forest Park to thrive for future generations, it needs to be nurtured and supported by everyone in our region. Membership in Forest Park Forever, the co-chairs shared with attendees, is an ideal way to show such support. 

The event was ‘topped off’ by the Stifel Hat Contest. During the event, 17 winners from the more than 1,000 hats were selected by anonymous judges in the categories of “Romantic,” “Whimsical,” “Fascinator,” “Couture,” “Best Male Hat” and — new in 2014 — “stl250” and “Best in Show.” 

Southwest Airlines Co., the Official Airline Sponsor, continued their support of the luncheon this year by awarding “Freedom to Fly” round-trip tickets to each person at the “Best Theme” table.

Tiffany & Co. sponsored the 4th Annual Mystery Blue Bag Event, always a highlight of the Hat Luncheon. Of the 152 blue bags sold for $50 each, 150 contained a beautiful set of Tiffany crystal tumblers while the remaining two bags each contained a Sterling Black Onyx Freshwater Pearl Tassel Necklace and Earring set. The Tiffany’s Mystery Blue Bag Event raised $7,600 during the luncheon.    

Additionally, each of the 110 tables nominated the best hat at each table. These “Table Winners” brought home beautiful floral centerpieces from the event.

With great prizes and bragging rights on the line, guests pulled out all the stops, donning some of the most beautiful and creative toppers in the history of the event. The hat contest, coupled with the opportunity to dine al fresco on a spectacular June day with fellow Forest Park Forever supporters, proved a winning combination. 

President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever Lesley Hoffarth was thrilled with the outcome of this year’s event. 

“The 2014 Leffingwell Award ‘Hat’ Luncheon was a fantastic success,” said Hoffarth. “This event reminds us that Forest Park is a community treasure beloved and supported by so many. Thanks to donors such as the Orthwein Foundation, and our 2014 Women’s Committee and event co-chairs, the Park and our organization are poised for an even brighter future as one of St. Louis’ greatest gems.”

Attendees of Forest Park Forever’s 2014 Hat Luncheon included Mayor G. Francis Slay and Alderwomen Dionne Flowers, Tammika Hubbard, Christine Ingrassia, Carol Howard, Jennifer Florida, Donna Baringer, Marleen Davis and Lyda Krewson. St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby was also in attendance. 
At the close of the sold-out luncheon, each guest took home a latte mug featuring a photo of Forest Park courtesy of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.

Anonymous Hat Contest Judges:

  • Susan Barrett: World Chess Hall of Fame
  • Debra Bass: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Helene Sayad: St. Louis Magazine 
  • Shannon Berry Meyer: Missouri History Museum
  • Alex Menard: Missouri History Museum 
  • Boo McLaughlin: Craft Alliance
  • John Sullivan: Ladue News
  • Jay Hoffarth: Parsons Brinckerhoff 
  • The Academy of Past Co-Chairs  

Stifel Hat Contest Winners: 


  • 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 

About Forest Park Forever
In 1986, Forest Park Forever, a private, not-for-profit organization, was founded to work in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s great urban public parks for the enjoyment of all – now and forever.