All Aboard gala raises $250k for Botanic Garden

The Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society held its eighth annual All Aboard! Party on Dec. 8 amid the Garden’s festive indoor holiday and model train exhibition, Wonderland Express.

In keeping with All Aboard! tradition, the benefit chairs, Marianne Bestler of Hinsdale, and Carole Sandner of Lake Bluff, evoked the theme of a grand train journey, “From Paris to Versailles in Style.” Peggy Carr, a Woman’s Board member since 1960, served as honorary chair of the event.

Guests entered the event through Golden Gates to the Palace of Versailles, the home of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, then traveled past a gingerbread village composed entirely of edible sweets. A cedar-lined hall led guests to the Wonderland Express garden-scale train exhibition, featuring lush horticultural displays of holiday plants and 80 miniature replicas of Chicago landmarks.

Upon exiting, guests were greeted with strains of classical French music provided by the Allium String Quartet, which played among café tables and sparkling lights, poinsettias and evergreens. Vocalist Lisa Yuen Sandner performed before dinner.

The dining areas also recalled the grandeur of the royal residence of the last Bourbon king of France: the Garden of Versailles, Library of Louis XVI and Hall of Mirrors, and dinner continued the French theme.

The event raised $250,000 for the Woman’s Board “Growing the Future” campaign. Now in its third year, the effort will raise $1 million to fund the renovation of the English Walled Garden and replacement of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer. The Woman’s Board is dedicated to supporting the Chicago Botanic Garden through advancement of conservation, education and horticulture.

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