On October 2, 2020, Smale Riverfront Park will transform into a global village celebrating the diverse people, cultures and parks that make up the Queen City. The “Hats Off Around the World, Parks Around Our City” luncheon will welcome over 1,200 guests with an experience that will excite their senses through colors, tastes, music, attire and, of course, hats!

At the luncheon, guests will have the opportunity to walk through various landscapes that represent African, Indian, Asian, European and Latin American regions. In each area, guests can immerse themselves in the culture and appreciate the diversity of the people who live in Cincinnati.

The event will kick off with a champagne toast at 11 a.m., followed by a cocktail hour featuring an African drummer, Egyptian Raqs Sharqi belly dancing, the Gajdi Jawani Bhangra team, the Showboat Cloggers and more. Guests are encouraged to wear clothing and hats that reflect their cultures — from Sunday church hats and Indian Sarees to Great Britain’s pillbox hats and Ghanian head wraps.

“Parks are for everyone,” says Hats Off Luncheon Co-Chair Lindsay Wilhelm. “We want to continue to welcome everyone to share their culture and pay respect to cultures and traditions that they admire.”

During the cocktail hour, the Cincinnati Parks Foundation will present the Phyllis W. Smale Award and serve a gourmet lunch packed with ethnic flavors. The fun doesn’t stop there! Sponsors and special ticket holders are invited to the electric after-party at Anderson Pavilion. No need to re-park your car —the after-party is right across the street.

Cincinnati parks are backyards for families and gathering  places for community members. It’s only right to celebrate these greenspaces that wrap around and through our 52 neighborhoods.

The 14th Annual Hats Off Luncheon benefits Cincinnati Parks Foundation, which continues to support Cincinnati Parks through new developments and projects.

Looking at the year ahead, Cincinnati Parks Foundation has identified several key projects to enrich our communities even more. A statue honoring the former World Heavyweight Champion and West End Ambassador, Ezzard Charles, will be installed in Laurel Park. Also, a new mountain bike skills course is being developed at Mt. Airy Forest with the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance.

In addition to the Parks’ capital improvements, Cincinnati Parks Foundation funds crucial community-building programming that occurs in its top-ranked greenspaces. One of these programs, Nature Next Door, provides nature education to 40,000 underserved youth each year, whether children are learning about stone shelter architecture, the solar system or how to make syrup from a maple tree.

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is proud to partner with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in bringing the be.well program to Smale Riverfront Park. Children with physical disabilities engage in 30 percent less physical activity than national fitness guidelines, and they spend more time in sedentary behavior — both can negatively impact a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. The be.well program provides year-round programming to help get terminally ill children, children with disabilities and their families active outdoors.

There is much more to celebrate this year, including the 25th Anniversary of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, 25 years of the Krohn Conservatory’s Annual Butterfly Show, 100 years since women were granted the right to vote, and the hiring of the first woman to serve as the Director of Cincinnati Parks.

The Women’s Committee of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation is committed to endowing, maintaining and preserving the parks that make up our city. They also aim to educate the public about the history of the parks so more people can become advocates of these irreplaceable treasures.

The Women’s Committee was founded in 2007 by two women, Helen Heekin and Debbie Oliver, who helped to get 100 women to donate $1,000 each in order to begin construction of the John G. & Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park. To their surprise, 554 women contributed to the cause and the riverfront was transformed into a destination venue for 1.1 million visitors annually. Today, the Hats Off Luncheon attracts over 1,200 guests, and the Women’s Committee has raised over 3.5 million dollars.

This year’s Hats Off Luncheon is led by co-chairs Lindsay Wilhelm and Pat Hinkley. Wilhelm and Hinkley both come from different backgrounds, but they work as a united front. To make the Hats Off Luncheon become a reality, Wilhelm and Hinkley work with over 70 volunteers, diverse in race and age, who secure everything from décor and vendors to food arrangements and entertainment.

“Our goal as co-chairs was to share the beautiful cultures that play in our Parks, to host an amazing event and to demonstrate how working together as one reaps success.” Wilhelm says.

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation presents the Phyllis W. Smale Award, sponsored by P&G, to honor the legacy of Marian and Donald Spencer. Each year, the award is given to someone who has made a significant contribution to the Cincinnati Community or the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. The award recognizes the Spencers’ leadership and outstanding achievements in Cincinnati. Throughout her lifetime, Marian Spencer served as a civil rights activist and community leader. There are plans for a statue in the park to honor her.

The Hats Off Luncheon will be held on October 2, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Smale Riverfront Park, located at 166 W. Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.861.0023 or visit www.cincinnatiparksfoundation.org.