Amarillo Botanical Gardens invites the community to a night of mad fun at its 11th annual Mad Hatters Ball, to be held Friday, March 24 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the gardens located at 1400 Streit Dr.
The evening will include a gala and silent auction, including the auctioning of jewelry from Graham Brothers Jewelers, gift baskets from Proffer Aesthetic Center, and other items from Silverland, Amarillo Athletic Club and more.
During the event, 806 DJ’s will provide live music as attendees enjoy the dance floor, an open bar sponsored by Reed Beverage, and this year’s new addition of gaming tables including a blackjack and craps table. Previous to the opening of festivities, a dinner will be provided, catered by Girasol.
Greg Lusk, Director of Gardens/Horticulturist at the Amarillo Botanical Gardens, stated that this annual event was originally inspired by the tea party held by the Mad Hatter character in the well known “Alice in Wonderland” tale. Lusk said that the event has grown over the years and became well known for individuals wanting to dress up representing the theme and having a good time.
“When we first started this, very few dressed up, but now probably 80 percent of the people come dressed with the theme or even more,” Lusk said. “You don’t need to dress up to have fun at this party, but it is fun
The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden is in a major growth mode, hoping to attract more tourists.
Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s an amazing tool for economic development. People talk about The Garden as one of the places they like best in the community.”
Friday evening, The Garden announced a $2.8-million capital campaign that includes a $1.1 million event center where The Cottage is now.
“We don’t have indoor space for events,” Laurna Strehl, the Garden’s executive director, said of the need for the event center.
Weddings at The Garden are now dependent on the weather. But the event center will offer a backup plan, she said.
Strehl said fundraising began in late August 2021 and has already reached $1.9 million in pledges.
“We have deposited over $1 million to date,” she said, “with commitments to come in incrementally over the next five years.”
Strehl said the $2.8 million includes $800,000 to purchase WeatherBerry, an historic 4,000-square-foot home built in 1840 and convert it into a visitor center; $900,000 to hire a landscape designer to plan and implement the expansion and integration of new gardens and create green spaces “that promote interaction, including visitor features across the new eight acres of land, in addition to reserves for ongoing maintenance” and $1.1 million for the event center to provide more educational and event space.”
She said, “We purchased the WeatherBerry home at 2731 W. Second St. in September of 2020 and had to modify some of it and the property around it to satisfy planning and zoning requirements, including construction for Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.”
Strehl said, “We improved the asphalt driveways and have added 33 parking spaces beside the home. We completed significant tree removal of unhealthy trees and some that interfered