Devotees of the agreeable climate and the natural beauties of South Florida take note, this month we are fete-ing two significant events. The Everglades National Park is marking its 70th Anniversary and the Everglades Foundation, turning 25, is putting on a soiree of significant proportions. Board Member and an early supporter, Jimmy Buffet will be getting this philanthropic gathering on its feet to praise the salient work of the organization and the resiliency of the environment.
The Everglades is a unique and fascinating area. Known as a River of Grass, it is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and reptiles, quite a few of them endangered. Its state is one of perpetual fragility due to high levels phosphorus from fertilizers and industrial pollutants.
President Harry Truman stated eloquently at the dedication of the Everglades National Park, “Public lands and parks, our forests and our mineral reserves are subject to many destructive influences. We have to remain constantly vigilant to prevent raids by those who would selfishly exploit our common heritage for their private gain.”
President Harry Truman at the dedication of the Everglades National Park
Truman’s words were prophetic. Throughout the years the ecological well being of the Everglades continued to decline. In 1976, the area was designated an International Biosphere Reserve, in 1979 a World Heritage Site, and in 1987 joined the list of the Wetland of International Importance. Although these may seem like plauditory designations, they actually signaled the peril of the area as recognized globally.
Forty five years after Truman spoke, two committed individuals took action. George Barley and Paul Tudor Jones, enlisting the help of fellow sportsman and environmentalists created the Everglades Foundation, dedicated to protecting and restoring America’s Everglades.
The call was sounded to fellow philanthropist who were drawn to the excitement and vitality of the mission and flocked to their fabulous #Foreverglades Fetes.
Designed to be anti-black tie, the invitation has suggested thought provoking attire: Surfer Chic, Biker Chic, It’s Always Five O’Clock Somewhere which heightens the anticipation to see and be seen. Willie Geist, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumble, Tom Brokow, Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough and Nora O’Donnell were among the MC’s to donate their time. While ZZ Top, Jerry Seinfeld, Daryl Hall, Steven Tyler, Dave Matthews and Roger Daltry have all performed to rousing acclaim.
Christina & Willy Geist
Hilary & Bryant Gumbel
The early years were held at the now infamous Mar-a-Lago, but when the size of the audience quickly outgrew the venue the iconic Breakers Hotel provided the perfect atmosphere for outdoor buffs and sea lovers.
We asked Mary Barley, Board Member, environmental activist, and George’s widow to look back on the years since its inception. “When George and Paul formed the Everglades Foundation 25 years ago, we knew its work would not be completed in our lifetimes, but it was important that we begin. Now, a quarter century later, with Everglades restoration written into law and critical projects moving forward, it is doubly important that our work continue. The generosity at our annual Gala has been key to our success these past 25 years, and will fuel future success in the years to come.”
Paul & Sonia Tudor Jones
Hilary readies her vibrant ensemble, “When the dress code is “Parrothead Posh” and Jimmy Buffet is the entertainment, you have to go with bold, tropical colors. These dresses fit the bill and will be comfortable on the dance floor. We had our eye on this turquoise halter dress and it would be perfect for the event. Borgo de Nor is a new designer on our radar and we love their prints, plus a halter neckline is always flattering. Yellow is not usually my go to color but it feels appropriate in this setting. And the under the sea print of the strapless dress is just fun. I couldn’t resist including the Judith Leiber Crystal Parrot clutch, though super expensive, it certainly is perfect for the evening . . . but don’t let this bird fly the coop!
I followed Hilary’s lead to find a trio festive frocks that set the right mood for swaying to an ocean breeze with sounds of Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band heating up the crowd. Bright colors, crazy palm and parrott accessories, a cheeky little fedora and of course, a pair of wedges or thick heeled sandals for maneuvering grass and sand. Don’t forget a wrap or jacket and you will be primed and pumped for this brilliant night under the stars and by the sea.
dresses: Milly Stretch Liela $296 SALE / Milly Nicole Cady V-Neck Bell Sleeve SALE $171 / Milly Coco Floral Sheath accessories: Inverni Raffia Fedora $350 / Cirri Louis Pink Fedora $110 / Kenneth Jay Lane Multicolor Parrot Earrings $85 / Oscar De La Renta Monstera Leaf / Prada Knit Raffia Crossbody $990 shoes: Jimmy Choo Cork Heel Sandal $750 / Giuseppe Zanotti Gipsy Leather Platform Wedge $795
As the late and great George Barley noted, “Long after we are gone, the Everglades will be our lasting legacy, to our children, grandchildren, and the world.”
In Memory of George, The Foundation created the largest water prize in existence, directing teams of entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists to develop a practical, cost-effective techniques to solve the problem of excess phosphorus in freshwater
Mary Barley, and Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg present The George Barley Water Prize.
And today the next generation of is diligently at work. Mike Ramos, Board Member and father to the Ramos Brothers notes, “ The Everglades play such an important role in our lives here in Florida. I’m teaching my young kids about the Everglades and how it serves 8 million Floridians with drinking water and is the home to such beautiful wildlife. It is crucial that we all communicate the importance of conservation to our youth.” His boys share their dad’s vision and mission to SAVE THE EVERGLADES.