Hudson River Park Friends returned home to the Hudson River Park to celebrate all that the four-mile-long oasis has provided to millions of New Yorkers over the past year and a half.
Friends held its 2021 Gala at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers and raised $2.5 million to support the Park’s operations, horticulture, maintenance and public programming and an innovative science playground at Pier 26.
Hosted by Mario Cantone; the evening began with cocktails by the Park’s carousel of native Hudson River animals, while guests enjoyed a Bollywood-inspired performance. The evening honored Madelyn Wils, past President and CEO Hudson River Park Trust – who was presented with her award by Diana Taylor, former Chair of the Trust’s Board of Directors. Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet and Google, accepted her award on behalf of Google for their incredible growth in NYC and catalyzing the expansion of the NY-based tech industry over the past decade. Kristin Chenoweth honored Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming for his amazing success and activist work in his adopted home.
Christie’s Auctioneer Lydia Fenet led the evening’s live auction, which featured unique experiences from Wyclef Jean, Mandarin Oriental – Marrakech, City Winery, Grand Banks, Liberty National Golf Club & NEXUS Club New York, Wimbledon 2022 & the Summer Hamptons Classic, and BLADE with VIP passes to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Guests including Martha Stewart then danced the night away to an unforgettable performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Wyclef Jean.
“It was so exciting to see everyone in person again in Hudson River Park” said Connie Fishman, Executive Director of Hudson River Park Friends. “It’s been such a difficult year and a half, and the Park has done so much to help New Yorkers stay healthy and sane during that time; it was more meaningful than ever to get to celebrate it with our friends, neighbors, supporters and incredible Honorees.”
The funds raised during the evening completed the $3.5 million Hudson River Park Friends’ Capital Campaign for Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 Science Play Area, designed by OLIN, thanks, in large part, to the historic $1.3 million match from Friends Board Chair Mike Novogratz. The science-themed playground will serve as an outdoor extension of environmental programming planned at the Hudson River Estuarium and the ecology-focused Pier 26. With construction scheduled for 2022, the play area will feature larger-than-life play features in the forms of native and endangered Sturgeon species to be created by MONSTRUM.
Michael Novogratz said, “I am stepping down as Chairman of Hudson River Park Friends next March with a smile on my face. The team at the Park over the past decade has done an amazing job building out this incredible resource against, at times, very difficult conditions. Madelyn Wils, one of tonight’s honorees, deserves a ‘Key to the Park’ and a huge thank you from all New Yorkers who benefit from it each and every day. It is a remarkable accomplishment.”
Gala Chairs for the event include Diana L. Taylor & Michael R. Bloomberg, Diane von Furstenberg & Barry Diller, Susanna Aaron & Gary Ginsberg, Erica & Samuel F. Martini, Sukey & Michael E. Novogratz, Lee & Justin Sadrian and Zara & David Tisch.
The Honorary Committee includes Sandra Bernhard, David Chang, Andy Cohen, Claire Danes, Kristin Davis, Harvey Fierstein, Deborra-Lee and Hugh Jackman, Padma Lakshmi, Nathan Lane, Julianne Moore, Eric Ripert, Susan Sarandon, Martin Short and Martha Stewart.