By Sadie Hunter
Hamilton County Parks and Recreation and its foundation, Friends of Hamilton County Parks, is looking to “wow” guests of its annual fundraiser, Floratopia.
This year’s theme will focus on all things botanical, transforming the inside of the Ritz Charles into a faux outdoor escape with real trees, flowers, grass and other plants – all of which is inspired by the event’s beneficiary, Coxhall Gardens Conservatory, a 35,077-square-foot botanical conservatory and event space to be built at Carmel’s Coxhall Gardens, set to open in 2019.
“We, every time (we hold a fundraiser), try to introduce something new that’s coming, and this year, it’s the conservatory,” Al Patterson, director of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, said. “We try to set the bar high. Our whole goal is to create a fundraiser that’s different than all the other fundraisers. We’re always going to be hands on. There are going to be activities that people will be able to take part in.”
The event’s title sponsor, the Clay Township Trustee’s Office and Board, put forth $10,000 to make the event happen, as the Coxhall Gardens Conservatory will sit within Clay Township.
Last year’s event, Clip It, highlighted the new and exciting things coming to Strawtown Koteewi Park in Noblesville, featuring a rock-climbing wall, live animals and a scaled-down archery range and aerial park, complete with a zip line.
But unlike that event, this year’s fundraiser isn’t limited to the main banquet hall but the entire Ritz Charles facility rather.
“As impressive as (last year) was, from a logistical and construction standpoint, I think this year is going to exceed that because it’s going to integrate the entire space, anywhere you look,” said Don Nicholls, resource development specialist at Hamilton County Parks and Recreation. “Being able to transform the entire area is going to be not only a challenge but, I think, really an experience.”
Guests of the event can expect the usual drinks, dinner, auctions, music and dancing, but also should plan for things like croquet, lawn bowling and bocce ball, among other activities. Nicholls said many of the items – like the trees, plants, flower arrangements, pergolas and more – also will be purchasable.
“We want people to leave saying, ‘Wow, that was a lot of fun, that was just great,’” Nicholls said.
WANT TO GO?
What: Floratopia, a fundraiser for Hamilton County Parks and Recreation.
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 5.
Where: Ritz Charles, 12156 N. Meridian St., Carmel.
Cost: $100/ticket. $750/table of eight.
Dress code: Garden party casual.
Order of events:
- 5 to 6 p.m. VIP/sponsor reception
- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Cocktails, Garden Gala activities, music, silent auction opens
- 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. Keynote speaker
- 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. Dinner
- 8:30 to 9 p.m. “Growing, Growing, Gone!” live auction
- 9 to 10:30 p.m. After-party music and dancing, check-out for auction