Opening Night Party 2019 Highlights
Every February, the Arboretum Foundation kicks off the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival with its annual Opening Night Party & Auction. Guests enjoy a celebratory dinner, dazzling entertainment, silent and live auctions, and an intimate preview of the Garden Festival’s stunning display gardens.
All proceeds help fund environmental education and tree care at the Arboretum.
Highlights from the 2019 Party
More than 360 guests attended our 31st annual Opening Night Party and Auction at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival on February 19, 2019. They helped us raise over $320,000 for Washington Park Arboretum—breaking last year’s record by about $15,000!
Our theme was “Mediterranean Dreams,” and the evening began with a champagne reception in the South Atrium Lobby of the Convention Center. While enjoying the reception, guests had the opportunity to sign up for unique experiences, such as a bird walk in the Arboretum with local naturalist Larry Hubbell.
Belly Dancers, Flamenco, and Beautiful Gardens
Then the doors of the Exhibit Hall opened, and guests savored an exclusive first-look at the Garden Festival’s fabulous displays. They also participated in a tantalizing silent auction and were entertained by belly dancers from Raks Malika.
When it was time for dinner and the live auction, the belly dancers led guests on a procession to the dining area in the Skybridge Lobby. As everyone settled into their meal, Arboretum Foundation Board President Jason Morse and Director Jane Stonecipher welcomed our guests and thanked our event partners and sponsors.
The talented and funny Graham Crow returned as our auctioneer this year and guided the audience through an enticing live auction that included a “speakeasy” in the Arboretum to celebrate the 80th birthday of Director Emeritus Dr. John Wott, as well as a trip to the Antarctic for two.
Our guest speaker, UW Director of Regional and Community Relations Sally Clark, gave a wonderful speech, paying tribute to the impact of the Arboretum Foundation Units. She provided a short history of the Units, who for 80 years have provided vital funding and volunteer support to the Arboretum, and also created many of its most successful programs.
Celebrating an Arboretum Legacy
Sally then led a toast in honor of Unit members, quite a number of whom were present as party guests. Volunteers passed out roses to each of the Unit members, and then musicians and dancers from Oleaje Flamenco gave a stunning surprise performance in their honor.
To give the Arboretum Foundation Units’ story some personal perspective, Sally invited Meg Harry of Unit 52—the Couples Unit—to the stage. Meg talked about how important the Arboretum has been to her family over the years, as a place to come together. She urged guests to make the Arboretum part of their legacy: “Love it, use it, share it, and make sure to help pass it on to your next generations.”
After Meg’s speech, Graham led a raise-the-paddle that resulted in more than $110,000 in gifts to the Arboretum! At the end of the dinner and auction program, our guests returned to the main exhibit hall for one last look at the display gardens.
EVENT PHOTOS: Top, Niall Dunne; all others, David Rosen, SlickPixPhotography.
Thanks to our event sponsors for their support of the Arboretum.
A special thanks to our event partners!
Aegis on Madison
Karr Tuttle Campbell
One Ocean Expeditions