It was an evening to remember- everyone who attended the Waveny Park Conservancy’s Golden Gala on December 2nd at Waveny House will never forget this magical evening. This momentous event commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Waveny being entrusted by Ruth Lapham Lloyd to the Town of New Canaan and raised funding to continue to fulfill the mission of the Conservancy to restore and preserve the landscape. Against the backdrop of a forest of golden glittering Christmas trees, 230 guests in black tie and evening gowns brought the house to life. The sparkling Christmas and winter-themed décor with stars twinkling on the tent’s ceiling was beautifully orchestrated by Muffy Lewis. The evening began with music by the Stamford Symphony and ended with a special one-hour musical cabaret performance by Lloyd’s old friend and Taxi co-star Tony Danza, all harking back to the days when Ruth Lapham Lloyd held private concerts at her home.
The actor Christopher Lloyd, son of Ruth Lapham Lloyd and former resident of Waveny, together with his wife Lisa Lloyd were the Honorary Chairmen of the event. Lloyd gave a touching speech about what Waveny means to him and thanked the community for preserving it. He started out by saying, “I don’t think I have ever been at Waveny in a tuxedo! And it’s ok!” He recalled how when he was visiting his home in his 20s, he supported his mother’s enlightened vision to donate Waveny to the town. “My mother said, ‘I have an idea. I want to give Waveny to New Canaan.’ I had no objection. And it’s become this.”
In his speech, Chairman Bob Seelert said, “The vision of the Waveny Park Conservancy is to ensure that Waveny thrives in perpetuity and continues to inspire and serve the people of New Canaan forever.” The event raised significant funding with a successful live auction and paddle raise, the highlight of which was a dinner party with the Lloyds, which attracted many bidders. A moving video about Waveny produced by WPC board member Erik Thorkilsen and Gunnar Waldman at This Old House included interviews with Lloyd as well as children, who cherish and use Waveny. According to Gala Co-Chairman Arianne Kolb, who interviewed them, “The voices of the children of New Canaan need to be heard, since they are the stakeholders and future custodians of Waveny.”
A Benefit Committee plus other volunteers as well as Recreation Director Steve Benko worked tirelessly to plan the event and transform the house and tent. The Benefit Chairmen were Arianne Kolb, Scott Gress, and Bill Holmes, and the Décor Chair was Muffy Lewis. Torrance York’s exhibition of stunning photographs of Waveny enlivened the main house and 20% of any sales of her photos of Waveny will be donated to the Waveny Park Conservancy (they are currently on view at the New Canaan Historical Society). Each guest received a beautiful commemorative program with a history of Waveny as well as a copy of Lapham’s Quarterly donated by Lewis Lapham, the great grandson of Lewis H. Lapham. The lead sponsors included Francos Wine Merchants, Karl Chevrolet, Manfredi Jewels, Moffly Media, and This Old House. Gala supporters included Elm Street Books, Halstead, Hobbs, Inc., Hollywood Pop Gallery, The New Canaan Garden Club, New Canaan Preservation Alliance, Exchange Club of New Canaan, Walter Stewart’s, and The Whitney Shop. The Live Auction sponsors were Helicopter Flight Services, Inc., Lisa and Christopher Lloyd, Manfredi Jewels, Victoria Reynolds, Harry and Susan Rein, This Old House, Union Square Café, and Westport Auction.