FLASHBACK: Tip Toe Through the Tulips as We Revisit Mad Hatter's Tea and Its Beginnings
This month the Mad Hatter's Tea The Art of Chic would have celebrated its 32nd year benefitting the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman's Garden amongst the glorious blooming gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. One of the most anticipated parties each spring, the Mad Hatter's Tea is traditionally a fun day at the Arboretum featuring a high-style and beautiful crowd wearing artful and creative hats supporting the elegant and chic A Woman's Garden, the only public garden in the nation conceived by women, funded by women, and dedicated to the spirit of women.
It was with great sadness that Venise Stuart, Women's Council President, and Patti Flowers, Mad Hatter's Chair, had to cancel the event due to the coronavirus pandemic and the shelter-in-place order.
And how, in the spirit of the Mad Hatter's Tea, its historic beginnings and the vital role its fundraising plays in the maintenance and care of A Woman's Garden, everyone is invited to tip toe through the tulips and flashback through photos and revisit this wonderful event's history.
Carole Ann Brown, Chair of the first Mad Hatter's Tea in 1989, recalled that first event held as a marketing event to bring about awareness of the Women's Council and the Dallas Arboretum in the Camp House gardens. "Scottie Buehler was the Women's Council President and she asked if I would chair an event to help bring people to the Dallas Arboretum, an afternoon tea, and I thought that would be a fun event. With Mad Hatter's Tea as our theme, we sent out invitations to the Women's Council membership. The response was unbelievable!" The event sold 100 seats, and we earned $10,000. Liz Minyard wore a grocery bag as her hat, filled with fruits and vegetables. Dee Simmons wore an Eliza Doolittle costume and hat inspired by the role in My Fair Lady. Marilyn Hailey worked with Frank Olive, a renowned hat designer, through Neiman Marcus and they signed on as a sponsor. The event also included a live auction and informal modeling of spring fashions from the events' sponsors.
During the years of expansion construction at the Dallas Arboretum, the tea had to move its location each year. The most unusual setting was in 2002 when the Galleria covered their ice rink, transforming it into a 1930's garden setting. The event was chaired by Yvonne Crum and Dee Wyly and had over 640 people in attendance.
Guest hat designers have included Kokin, Victor Costa, Joe Bill Miller, and Eric Javits. The fashion show has grown from informal modeling to a formal fashion show with sponsors such Neiman Marcus, Lilly Dodson, Saks Fifth Avenue, Del Ann's, Barney's New York, and longtime sponsor TOOTSIES. The wonderful fashion presentations are produced by the fabulous Jan Strimple.
In 2004, Connie Carreker created a must-see video themed "Hats off to Heritage" where she interviewed founders and supporters of the Dallas Arboretum including Nell Denman, Margaret McDermott, Ebby Halliday, Mimi Lay Hodges, Doris Anton, Liz Minyard, and more. A link to this video is on our Mad Hatter's Tea page.
Photos from previous years are included in the two Flashback Albums for the Mad Hatter's Tea (found in our Photo Albums section). Every effort was made to include each former Mad Hatter's Tea chair, honorary chairs, board members, sponsors, underwriters, local celebrities and VIPs. You may see some ladies more than once because of their board involvement, being a president or event chair, or with whom they are pictured.
Pictures are ready in our
Photo Albums section.