The 28th Annual Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon Draws 1,000+ 
Attendees and Raises $450,000 to Support Forest Park


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KMOV News Anchor Courtney Bryant emceed this year’s Hat Luncheon; event co-chairs were Sharon Price John and Leah Merrifield

ST. LOUIS,June 7, 2018– Forest Park Forever welcomed more than 1,000 Park supporters to the World's Fair Pavilion for its annual Hat Luncheon on Thursday, June 7. This always popular event is the single largest annual fundraiser for Forest Park, supporting the important work this nonprofit conservancy does to restore, maintain and sustain the Park alongside the City of St. Louis. 

Guests donned their fanciest fascinators and chicest chapeaus in anticipation of winning prizes for their creative and stylish millinery, all while supporting Forest Park. Between ticket sales, sponsorships and a silent-auction, the event raised $450,000 to support critical maintenance of Forest Park.

This year’s sold-out luncheon, now in its 28th year, was presented by The Women’s Committee of Forest Park Forever and co-chairs Sharon Price John,President and CEO of St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., and Leah Merrifield, Washington University’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement and St. Louis College Readiness Initiatives. 

KMOV News Anchor Courtney Bryant served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the luncheon, and shared the stage with speakers including Mayor Lyda Krewson, Forest Park Forever Board Chair Larry Thomas and Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E. The luncheon culminated with the Stifel Hat Contest. Winners were announced and brought to the stage in the following categories (photos to be posted in the coming weeks): 

Best Table Theme: 

  • Pace Barone — Yvette Cheaney, Melissa Grannum, Heather Harris,  Marie Holmes, Carrie Hughes, Mercia Moore,  Jovita Oruwari, Carla Pace, Jeanne Roberts, Katherine Work

Dapper Dudes

  • Marvin-Alonzo Greer 
  • David Nischwitz 
  • Larry Davis 


  • Courtney Brewster 
  • Mia Malcolm 
  • Lee Haynes 


  • Sydney A. Cross 
  • Galina Angheluta
  • Brenda Suhan


  • Laura Herring
  • Dorothy Raines
  • Kathleen Stomps 


  • Melissa Zensen
  • Julia Egelhoff 
  • Holly Liebig 

Judges' Choice

  • Rhetta Leritz Tussey 
  • Fran Zamler 
  • Elizabeth Robb

This year’s Hat Contest judges were Kathleen Bibbins (St. Louis Fashion Fund); Kwofe Coleman (The Muny); Katie D'Agostino (Build-A-Bear Workshop); Emily Fuhrman (Build-A-Bear Workshop); Robert Idol (Robert Idol Design); Mary Ruppert-Stroescu (Sam Fox School-Washington University); and Krista Tolbert (Nordstrom). 

“The Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon is a fantastic community tradition and an essential fundraiser for the Park,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, President and Executive Director of the nonprofit conservancy. "Thanks to the generosity of our co-chairs, Women’s Committee members, sponsors and fashionable attendees, Forest Park Forever has raised critical dollars to help keep Forest Park beautiful and welcoming for its millions of visitors.”

Platinum sponsors of the 2018 Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon were Edward JonesEmersonJudy Jonesand Stifel. A full list of sponsors and in-kind donors can be found at

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 and 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; raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; and provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever is supported by private donations from throughout the community, including its 7,500 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate partners.

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