On the Town with Ted Clayton

“This is the people’s park, their urban green space,” exclaimed Brooks Mathews, who along with hubby, Bert, chaired this year’s annual Conservancy Gala. The master plan is in six stages for Centennial Park—phase one, the core focus, is the ecological restoration of Cockrill Spring, which will improve the water quality in Lake Watauga. In addition to benefiting Lake Watauga, opening up Cockrill Spring, which has been running beneath the park since the days of the early settlers, will enable new gardens, groves, and meadows. With the focus on the lake, Brooks and Bert, along with Brain Hull, master puppeteer, created the illusion of the spirit of Lady Watauga rising high into the dark sky showing her approval of the new restoration of her lake. Cocktails and dinner were held on the shore of the lake on a chilly early-November evening.

Howard and Hope Stringer – Conservancy Gala
Spirit of Lake Watauga – Conservancy Gala
Libby and Ben Page, Josephine and John Darwin, Brooks Mathews – Conservancy Gala
Nancy and Billy Ray Hearn – Conservancy Gala
Doug and Robinson Regen, Emmy and Steve Rick – Conservancy Gala
Emme Nelson Baxter and Demetria Kalodimos – Conservancy Gala
Betty Jo Wemyss, Edie Bass, Martin Brown – Conservancy Gala
Chairs Brooks and Bert Mathews – Conservancy Gala

Enjoying the festivities were Honorary Chair Clare Armistead escorted by son Hunter, Betty Jo Wemyss with Cookie Lackey, Robinson and Doug Regen, Board Chair Hope Stringer with hubby, Howard, my dinner partner the lovely Caye David, Kate Grayken, Emme and Butch Baxter, Demetria Kalodimos, Ellen Martin and Gerry Nadeau, Nancy and Billy Ray Hearn (Nancy, who is always good for a quote, says, “Well, Teddy, being that this party is themed Designs in Verde, the only thing I have green is emeralds.” Yes, draped head to toe, that’s my Nancy!), Lee Ann and George Anderson, Joy and Landy Gardner, Libby and Ben Page, Nancy and John Cheadle, and Pam and Jeff Kuhn. (Pam and Jeff were seated with me at dinner, and what a hoot these two are!) This event is always an evening of surprise and magic and always a sellout, enabling everyone to enjoy arts, culture, history, music, education, the environment, health and wellness—all here at our beloved Centennial Park.

Sally and Randall Henderson with Clare Armistead – Sunday In The Park
Joyce Hitt and Jay Joyner – Sunday In The Park
Ann Davis and Karl Dean with Tish – Sunday In The Park
Chair Sylvia Bradbury, Eleanor Willis, Chair Ann Dobson – Sunday In The Park
Lin and Bill Andrews – Sunday In The Park

From Centennial Park I take you to the Warner Parks for the ever-so-lovely Sunday in the Park. This was the twenty-fourth year for this grand tented picnic. Chairs Sylvia Bradbury and Ann Dobson were the gracious hosts for this most enjoyable Sunday afternoon, in the park of course. This year’s event was somewhat bittersweet with the retirement of the parks’ loyal executive director Eleanor Willis. For twenty years of passionate commitment to Friends of Warner Parks, she administered the growth of the parks with the rapid growth of our city. Standing in line to say kind words to Eleanor were Jennie and Rob McCabe, Colleen and Ted Welch, Kristen and Don Taylor, Honorary Chair Clare Armistead, Eddie Bass, Madge and Warner Bass, Laurie and Annette Eskind, Joyce Vise, Katie and Tom Steele, Holly Armistead with Hugh Hunter Byrd, Beth and Dave Alexander, Sandra Lipman, Murray Clayton, and Bert Parrish. From the lovely invocation given by the Reverend Becca Stevens to my last bite of the stacked apple pie dessert, this was a great event to kick off the fall social season!

Chairs Patsy Weigel, Deby Pitts, Dancey Sanders, Carla Nelson –  The Night of the Elephant
Rusty Terry and Dawn Wells – The Night of the Elephant
Deby and Keith Pitts – The Night of the Elephant
Anne Cain, Nancy Russell, Clare Bowen, Patsy Weigel, Austin Pennington, Jillian Cardarelli – The Night of the Elephant
Albert and Frannie Ambrose, Doug and Terre Cahill – The Night of the Elephant

The unsinkable Patsy Weigel and her trusty co-chairs of the herd Dancey Sanders, Deby Pitts, and Carla Nelson trumpeted The Night of The Elephant benefiting the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee. From the cocktails at the Watering Hole to the VIP Reception for Clare Bowen, to the Oh-So-Amos decor, this was a night not to be forgotten by patrons or elephants. Amos Gott with his tribe of talented designers transformed the Symphony Ballroom at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza into a classic tropical jungle. Huge palm branches artfully adorned the chandeliers, giving a most impressive tropical evening effect. The ballroom was illuminated with large pots of fire and flaming torches leading the patrons to dinner. Yes, this was the night of the elephant!

My good friend Dawn Wells (Maryann of Gilligan’s Island fame) along with Connie Bradley received the Trumpeting Award for their longtime support of the Sanctuary. Dawn whispered to me, “You know, Ted, the elephants were here before all mankind.” I must say after the marathon of a social week leading up to this gala, I did feel that I had been cruising with the original elephants. Just call me Tarzan, Weight Watchers style—and I shall need to watch those gala points if I want to swing tree to tree! Seen on this photo-op safari were Roberta Lochte-Jones, Sandra and Bill Earthman, Kate Grayken, Joni Werthan, Joyce and David Hitt, Ashley and Douglas Henry, Rachel and Gary Odom, Mike King, Nancy Russell, Lucy and Lucius Carroll, Steffon Hamulak, and of course the husbands of the Tribal Leaders, Bob Weigel, John Sanders, Keith Pitts, and Kevin Nelson. The only folks missing at this once-in-a-lifetime event were the real Tarzan, Jane, Boy, and Cheeta, but if Patsy reads this there will be a Tarzan Vine Party in the future. (Think of that attire!)

A lovely and inviting patrons party was held prior to the gala at the fabulous home of Deby and Keith Pitts with Cynthia and Elliot Himmelfarb as co-hosts. Oh by the way, the Pitts’ magnificent home is on the market. If anyone is interested, I know some great realtors.

What a great year, thanks to my readers and the Nashville Socials. Have a wonderful Christmas and Artful Holiday Season!

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