Fairmount Park Conservancy Gala

Billie Jean King, Ron Jaworski and more were honored.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted its 6th annual fundraising gala last week, and this year’s honorees included The Dow Chemical Company, Jane Pepper, Blaine Bonham, Ron Jaworski and Billie Jean King. Pictured, left to right: John and Gay Binswanger, Richard Negrin, Kathryn Ott Lovell, Billie Jean King, Mark A. Focht, and Michael DiBerardinis.

Below: Jay and Deborah Goldstein, with Connie and Sam Katz. During the event, a short film on Fairmount Park and its positive community impact, which was produced by the Katz Creative Group, was shown to guests. Next up for Katz Creative Group, “The Fight,” which covers Philly from 1965-1978 and covers civil injustice, the Broad Street Bullies, the Rizzo years, and the Sound of Philadelphia with Gamble & Huff. Look for it on June 20th on 6 ABC.

Below: Dennis Fee, co-owner of Ubar & Tavern on Camac, and David Wagaman, owner of Capriccio at Cafe Cret on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. David tells me the Wheel Fun rentals that were located at Love Park are now moving to his coffee shop located at 16th and the Parkway.

Below: Marcos Salganicoff and Lori Salganicoff, with Marjorie Ogilvie Parker and Miller Parker.

Below: Allen Drucker and Joe Wolf. Over the past year, a new park stewardship program was created, and through this program, they are building a network of volunteer park friends and groups to steward hundreds of neighborhood parks.

Below: Frank and Sue Binswanger, and Nicole Cashman and Nigel Richards. Nicole and Nigel tell me this is the first time they’ve been back to the Horticultural Center together since they were married nearly a year ago. It brought back lots of fantastic memories of that day.

Below: Allison Grove and Scott Tattar.

Below: Jane Pepper, Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, and Mayor Michael Nutter. Mrs. Hamilton told me she thinks the new children’s zoo, KidZooU Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo, at the Philadelphia Zoo in Fairmount Park, is just fantastic.

Below: TI Anderson and John Carr. John made a beeline for me and told me he got a kick out of my PhillyChitChat.com column last Wednesday where I chatted about the urns missing from each of the entrances of Rittenhouse Square. Seems his company, Milner + Carr Conservation, is sprucing up the urns for the upcoming 100th anniversary of architect Paul Cret’s redesign of the Square, and the big celebration at the annual Rittenhouse Square Ball on June 20th.

Below: State Rep Vanessa Lowery Brown and Arlen LaRue.

Below: Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski, recipient of the 2013 John Binswanger Park Champion honor, Margaret Salvato and Merrill Reese.

Below: Councilman Bill Green and Margie Green, with Alexandra Golaszewska and JB Kelly.

Below: Drew Becher and Tom Woodward. Drew tells me this year’s PHS pop-up garden is located on Broad Street across from the Kimmel Center and will be open for longer hours, as well as have more community outreach programs than in previous years.

Below: Mayor Nutter told guests he is the product of public parks. It’s about the quality of life and a place for kids to grow.

Below: Jane Pepper and Blaine Bonham were honored for their civic leadership. A bench in their honor will be placed in Fairmount Park. They’re with Leslie Anne Miller, Kathryn Ott Lovell and John Gattuso.

Below: Kathryn Ott Lovell, John Gattuso, and John K. Binswanger present Ron Jaworski with the “John K. Binswanger Champion of the Park Award,” recognizing his contribution to Hunting Park through his foundation, the Jaws Youth Playbook. Jaws Youth Playbook has given funds to help maintain the team and the cheerleaders, and build a new football field, along with contributions donated by the Michael Vick Foundation. A tree in Jaworski and King’s honor will be planted at Fairmount Park’s lush Belmont Plateau.

Below: Billie Jean King talked about how a childhood friend in Long Beach, California, Susan Williams, introduced her to the sport of tennis. She went on to take free lessons as part of a public park program and the rest, as they say, is history. Now she pays it forward, and last week, she was on hand for the dedication of six new tennis courts as part of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project. King’s Philadelphia Freedom World TeamTennis squad contributed to the renovation fund and has pledged to pay for the first three years of a year-round after-school tennis program to be operated by the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center. (BTW, she added at the end, her friend Susan Williams, is now Susan Williams Catherwood, who is a Penn trustee.) She also talked about her love for Philly, saying she played for Philadelphia Freedoms in 1974 and used to dream about owning the team. Now, she does. Joseph Manko Sr. (right) was honored last year for his civic leadership and support of the Conservancy.

Below: Kathryn Ott Lovell, executive director of the Conservancy, thanks the guests for coming, and recaps the exciting things that are forthcoming in Fairmount Park this year. One exciting project in the works is with Parks and Recreation, which is “to implement the department’s “More Park Less Way” plan. They are creating a new destination space at Eakins Oval, transforming a surface parking lot into a hip urban oasis with seasonal programming and exciting activities that will draw local residents and tourists alike.