A first birthday is always cause for celebration, and that’s what the Dallas Arboretum had on September 21. Cleverly titled First Anniversary Adventures, A Celebratory Soiree for Adults in a Child’s World, the event commemorated the opening of the nationally acclaimed Rory Meyers Children Adventure Garden. Co-chaired by community leaders Bettina and Dan Hennessy with assistance from the Year of the Children’s Garden Committee, the evening turned out to have perfect weather for its first birthday.
About 350 guests arrived to the music of the outstanding Booker T. Washington Jazz Combo, under the direction of Bart Marantz. Once they entered the eight-acre scientific garden, many stopped at the Plaza to enjoy a cool adult beverage. Others strolled to the Oasis, the rooftop garden that overlooks White Rock Lake, to enjoy libations while noshing on passed gourmet canapés. Cleverly named after the galleries at the Children’s Garden, these canapés included Plants are Alive Orange Avocado Endive Spoons, The Glade Avocado Masa Tart, Walk on the Wild Side Quail Rumaki, Texas Native Wetlands Spiced Pecan and Roasted Corn Crab Cake.
Some adults tested out the technology touchscreens and the OmniGlobe in the Exploration Center, while others shot water blasters at Energy Island and learned how to create electricity. Garden guides gave tours to guests including Caroline L. Hunt and her family in the Incredible Edible Garden where they learned about a plant that’s grown for loofahs. Spotted in the First Adventure gallery were Joyce and Dr. Linus Wright (former DISD superintendent). Gayle Sands’ daughters, Kathryn and Courtenay, posed to have their photo taken with Betty the Bee. Joe Buskuhl, who served on the Garden’s Architecture and Construction Committee overseeing of the Children’s Garden building, was spotted along the Texas Skywalk giving his guests a tour.
Rory and Howard Meyers brought along dozens of their extended family and friends to celebrate the evening. Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez admired the garden as many of the City Council and Dallas Park Board representatives made their way over to greet him.
Brian Shivers, Dallas Arboretum’s board chairman, welcomed guests seated outside the Exploration Center under white lights and the stars. He told of the success of the first year and how the Children’s Garden is enhancing life and earth science knowledge of students and families who visit. “I even heard of one school that visited as far away as Missouri.” He then introduced The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison, who served as the Guest of Honor, and who had served as the Honorary Chair of the capital campaign to build the garden.
Hutchison said, “This garden is world class. What you all have done is amazing. What you have done all these years is amazing. When people come to Dallas and visit the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, I’m going to make sure they come to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.”
Shivers introduced Kaki Hopkins, who served as chair of the Year of Children’s Garden, a series of children’s educational events and celebratory events for adults to help fund the children’s activities. Hopkins said, “We are honored to recognize the top donors to the Children’s Garden, including Rory and Howard Meyers who represent the lead gift, the Harold Simmons Foundation represented by Lisa Simmons, Diane and Hal Brierley, and Francie Moody-Dahlberg of the Moody Foundation.” She also recognized the Dallas City Council, Dallas Park Board and other donors. She also thanked Bettina and Dan Hennessy for co-chairing the evening and Cecile Bonte, honorary chair, whose multi-year leadership as capital campaign chair helped raise the millions to build the garden.
With the harp playing on the Texas Skywalk, guests ate a Black and White Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash, followed by Grilled Pink Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with a Sour Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake. During dessert, champagne was poured for a celebratory toast. Before people left, they were given lighted toys and glow necklaces to remind them of the fun they had at the Children’s Garden. These were clever party favors for a one-year-old’s birthday party!