Knapsacks, Dancing and Umbrellas Make Gala Night in Central Park

  • Northern Trust sponsors event to support park’s annual budget
  • Pom Sparklers and hot apple cider help keep guests warm

New York got soaked Thursday, not ideal weather for a charity dinner dance in Central Park. Yet 600 guests showed up anyway to Central Park Conservancy’s Autumn Dinner.


Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“The rain did not matter at all,” Valentin Hernandez of Citigroup said standing next to a cart stocked with donuts and hot apple cider.

Other creature comforts: a tent that didn’t leak and a deluxe trailer with scented restrooms. Tickets for the event’s seated dinner were $1,000 and up. Young associates invited at 9 p.m. paid $150.

At the start of the party, efficient coat-check staff put away dozens of umbrellas while a string quartet played “Pennies from Heaven.” Waiters served up a cocktail named the Pom Sparkler: vodka, orange syrup, pomegranate juice and a splash of ginger beer.

Props for the photo booth

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Many guests posed for photos printed on the spot. Props included a cute stuffed-animal hawk and knapsacks filled with binoculars, colored pencils and bird and nature identification guides. About 500 of them will be distributed to kids at the park’s visitors centers, courtesy of Northern Trust, the event’s sponsor. In past years, the bank has paid for saplings and daffodil bulbs in support of the event.

Henry and Susan Johnson with Doug Blonsky

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“We believe in investing in things that matter to our clients, many of whom live around the park,” said Henry Johnson, vice chairman for the Eastern region at Northern Trust.

Park Woodlands

Johnson likes going on early-morning birding expeditions in the park’s woodlands, recently restored with plantings that attract diverse species. “You hear them before you see them,” he said.

Elaine and Donald Textor

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

As for guest spotting: Donald Textor of DFT Energy LP, New York City parks commissioner Mitchell Silver, custom stationery maker Kate Pickett, and Jeremy Diamond of Guggenheim were seen against a backdrop of purple light projections and flowers.

There’s still time to see fall foliage in the park, which has about 20,000 trees, said Doug Blonsky, chief executive of the Central Park Conservancy.

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