Forest Park Forever’s 25th Annual Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon Attracts Record Crowd, Raises More Than $400,000 for Park Restoration and Maintenance

ST. LOUIS, June 4, 2015 – On Thursday, June 4, Forest Park Forever welcomed more than 1,100 guests in fine spirits and fanciful hats to the organization’s 25th Annual Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon, held at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. The popular annual event raised more than $400,000 for St. Louis’ beloved Forest Park. The funds will support Forest Park Forever’s ongoing restoration and maintenance efforts, essential to ensuring that Forest Park remains beautiful and accessible for more than 13 million visitors each year.

Event Presenters
This year’s Hat Luncheon co-chairs, KMOX news anchor Carol A. Daniel and community leader Linda M. Finerty, led Forest Park Forever’s 150-person Women’s Committee in planning and raising funds for the event. Emcee duties were again handled by KMOV’s Jasmine Huda. Other speakers included Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth, Forest Park Forever Board of Directors Chairman Tom Collins and Mayor Francis Slay. 

The luncheon’s Principal Sponsor, Emerson, was joined in its support of the event by Platinum sponsors Edward Jones and Stifel; Gold Sponsors the Crawford Taylor Foundation, Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Monsanto; and Silver Sponsors Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Ameren Corporation, Judith & Dennis Jones, Laclede Gas Company and World Wide Technology. Additional sponsors also provided critical and generous funds. A complete list of sponsors can be found at

Event History & 2015 Leffingwell Award
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 2015 Leffingwell Award was presented to the Founding Members of the Women’s Committee of Forest Park Forever, which has collectively raised $6 million for the Park in the past quarter century. Members of the Forest Park Forever Land Management staff hand-delivered awards to each of these attending members.

Stifel Hat Contest
The event was “topped off” by the Stifel Hat Contest. Anonymous judges selected the following winners in these categories: 

  • Romantic: Marilyn Gooch, Andrea Topps, Ashley Parks
  • Whimsical: Marsha Schuman, Anacleta Steffen, Shonte' Moore
  • Vintage: Becky Ulses, Lee Riggs, Merle Freed
  • Fascinator: Valerie Kennedy, Chelsey Oliver, Beth Davis
  • Silver 25th Anniversary: Dianne Isbell-O'Brien, Diedre Gray, Cathy Dunkin
  • Best Male Hat: Everett Dietle
  • Best in Show: Sue McCollum
  • Best Table Theme: St. Louis Homes & Lifestyle

Judging the contest were:

  • Debra Bass, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Carmen Boser, The Ruby Zipper Blog
  • Emily Elbert, Byrd Designer Consignment Boutique
  • Kelly Hamilton, ALIVE Magazine
  • Dalila Spencer, Calla Lily Boutique
  • Brigitte Ulses, Kate Spade – Plaza Frontenac
  • Melissa Wolfe, Saint Louis Art Museum

“The 2015 Hat Luncheon was a smashing success,” said Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth. “During this special 25th anniversary year, the Women’s Committee hosted our most popular Hat Luncheon ever, raising essential private dollars for the region’s greatest civic treasure. Thanks to this year’s sponsors and attendees, Forest Park Forever is in a stronger position to keep this beloved destination beautiful and accessible for all.”

Elected Officials
In addition to Mayor Slay, several other elected officials enjoyed the event, including: 

  • Alderwoman Donna Baringer 
  • Alderwoman Marlene Davis 
  • Senator Rita Heard Days 
  • Mayor Monica Huddleston
  • Alderwoman Lyda Krewson
  • Mayor Viola Murphy 
  • Alderman Joseph Roddy

Special Support for the Cascades
When the Women’s Committee first launched this event 25 years ago, the members raised funds for one specific project: the Nathan Frank Bandstand within Pagoda Circle. In 2015, the Committee turned its attention to making essential repairs and improvements to the Cascades, the 75-foot waterfall and natural destination located on a hillside between the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Probstein Golf Course. Funds raised during this year’s luncheon will support improvements to this iconic destination.
New Brand Identity 
This is the first Hat Luncheon to include Forest Park Forever’s recently refreshed brand identity.

Parting Gift
At the close of the sold-out luncheon, each guest took home a beautiful bud vase courtesy of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.


About Forest Park Forever
Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works 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 greatest urban public parks.
Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 – 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box. 

Today, Forest Park Forever maintains Forest Park with the City of St. Louis; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors; and raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever draws essential support from 7,000 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate supporters and partners.