Only at Descanso/The Rise Gala Raises $275,000 for Garden

Carvers from “RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns” created special jack o’lanterns to welcome and thank guests to the gala.Doug and benefit committee member and Descanso trustee Leah McCrary, Laura and John Babcock, and Peter and Janine Boyle (all Pasadena)Descanso Gardens Executive Director David R. Brown (Pasadena), Sue and Seth Walworth (San Marino)Gracella Gibbs and Gene Wilcott (LCF) enjoy the view over the lake in the new Oak Woodland at Descanso Gardens.Dinner set up along the Promenade.Bob Wicke (San Marino), Descanso chief operating officer Juliann Rooke (San Marino), Sturt Haaga Gallery curator John David O’Brien (Los Angeles) and Karen Wicke (San Marino)Paul and Emilie Baribault, Susan and Bill Baribault (LCF), Maryann and Ohad Zeira. Paul and Maryann are Bill and Susan’s children.Rich and Erin Atwater (LCF), Drew Atwater, Elizabeth Hurst, Sally Park, John CruzSharon Thralls (San Marino), Lou and Karen Bachand (Seal Beach), George and Ginger Desby (Sharon’s cousin, Rancho Palos Verdes). Sharon Thralls is a Descanso trustee, Karen Bachand is a former trustee.Paul and Char Vert, Maria Mallace, trustee Georgianna Erskine and Alexander “Sandy” Mallace (all Pasadena). Char Vert is a former Descanso trustee.Karl and Kathleen Swaidan, and Kitty and Vince Schaller (all Pasadena)Guests admired the spooky décor in the Boddy Lodge at the Oak Woodland.Chris Poole (LCF), Jane and Mark Pisano (LA)Ginger and Kim Caldwell (LCF) with DJ Matthew Rubino in the backgroundTake me to your leader – alien jack o’lanterns.Ol’ Mr. BonesDinner set up along the Promenade.Enjoying an after-dinner smoke in the cigar lounge are (from left) John Cruz, Sally Park and Elizabeth Hurst. They were guests of Rich and Erin Atwater of LCF.Dinosaur skeletons crafted from carved jack o’lanterns

Article by Descanso Gardens | Photography by MARTHA BENEDICT

1:21 pm | October 2, 2014


Illuminated by the bewitching glow of thousands of carved jack o’ lanterns, more than 250 supporters of Descanso Gardens gathered Saturday night to raise about $275,000 for the botanic garden’s programs.

Guests at “The Rise,” this year’s edition of the “Only at Descanso” benefit, got a sneak peek of the Halloween extravaganza “RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns,” which opens to the public on Oct. 3 and runs through Nov. 2. They also got a look at the new Oak Woodland, Descanso’s first major garden addition in 30 years, which opens to the public Nov. 15.

“This year’s benefit raised the most we have ever made,” said Juliann Rooke, Descanso chief operating officer. “This year our event sold out, and we had many friends old and new attending. Guests were so excited to see ‘The RISE’ – it’s an amazing event! And it was wonderful to see many new supporters at the benefit.”

The evening began with cocktails in the Oak Woodland. Guests watched waterfowl cavort in the lake – and admired the spooky Halloween display in the window of the Boddy Lodge. Hope Tschopik Schneider, chair of the Descanso board of trustees, presided over the donation paddle raise. She announced that longtime Descanso benefactors Heather Sturt Haaga and Paul Haaga – who were out of town for the evening – were matching all $5,000 donations dollar for dollar. “Just like ‘Orange is the New Black,’ five is the new ten,” she joked, referencing the hit Netflix series.

Once darkness fell, the crowd took a short stroll to the adjacent Rose Garden, where a red drape was pulled back to reveal the illuminated “RISE.” The exhibit includes more than 5,000 artist-carved jack o’ lanterns in a dizzying array of themes and styles: celebrity faces, dinosaur skeletons, a tribute to LA sports teams, TV and movie characters, nursery rhymes.

Dinner followed on The Promenade, where the candle-lit tables made a glowing serpentine trail under the oaks. The round tables were draped in pewter-colored crinkled taffeta tablecloths and set with coppery orange chargers and violet-tinged wine glasses. Keeping with the bewitching theme, the tables were illuminated by ivory pillar candles set in russet-colored iron candelabras.

The dinner, prepared by Patina Catering, kept the Halloween vibe going beginning with a salad of wild greens, crisp roots, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. The entrée was beef short ribs and beef medallions, served with heirloom pumpkin risotto and pancetta-wrapped asparagus.

The dinner was capped off by handmade sweets to tempt any trick or treater’s palate: pumpkin pie with maple Chantilly, tiny candy bars and mini caramel apples.

The evening ended with dancing in the Rose Pavilion and the invitation to take another stroll through “The RISE.” A cigar lounge drew guests who enjoyed a smoke and glass of port.

The evening was coordinated by the 2014 benefit committee, including Elizabeth Gleason of San Marino, Gina Guerra and Hope Tschopik Schneider of La Cañada Flintridge; and Amy Lamb, Leah McCrary and Ann Murphy of Pasadena. The event was generously underwritten by Patina Restaurant Group, Typecraft Wood & Jones, Jacob Maarse Florists, Town & Country Event Rentals, and Z Valet & Shuttle Service.

Funds raised at “Only at Descanso” will support programs and projects, from family friendly festivals and educational opportunities for school children to enriched horticultural displays and demonstration gardens to benefit the community.

“The mission of the Gardens is to educate and inspire,” Rooke said. “The generosity of our benefactors who supported the gala help us to provide our community with experiences in the natural world.”

About Descanso Gardens

Established as a public garden in 1953, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, near the interchange of the 2 and 210 freeways. The Gardens are open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily except Christmas Day. Parking is free. Admission fees are $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for members and children 4 and younger. For information, call (818) 949-4200 or visit www.descansogardens.org. Descanso Gardens is accredited by the American Association of Museums.