A Garden Party for, and in, the Park!

By Kristen Curry

This June, the Roger Williams Park Conservancy will open its garden gates for the second annual Rosé in the Roses garden party fundraiser, at the beautiful Roger Williams Park Botanical Center and Rose Maze, Thursday, June 6, 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets available now! Buy your tickets HERE.

Last year’s event, the first of its kind, was well-attended and guests had a great time. Organizers hope to welcome even more guests for this year’s gathering. Last year’s fundraiser raised more than $25,000 in funds and in-kind services to support the work that the conservancy does to provide free programming and fund park improvements and support the amazing venues in the park in partnership with the Providence Parks Department.

The evening will feature delicious appetizers from Russell Morin Catering, rosé, wine and beer, and a signature cocktail for the night. More than 150 guests from across Rhode Island will gather in the stunning Roger Williams Park Botanical Center and among the magnificent roses in the beautifully restored Rose Maze on the Botanical Center grounds. The event will include entertainment from hip-hop violinist Big Lux, living art from TEN31 and more.

The evening will honor special guest David Cicilline, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, with the Horace Cleveland Award to highlight the role of philanthropy in enhancing our community and celebrate the impact of legacy funds in beautifying Roger Williams Park. The award acknowledges all the work Cicilline has done in Providence, including his terms as Providence mayor, U.S. congressman for R.I., and now back in the Ocean State at the Foundation.

“David showed so much commitment to Providence,” Joe Pari, Conservancy board chair, says, “and did so much for the Broad Street area as mayor. He supported development of the rivers coming into Providence, and the city parks there, as congressman, helping to promote the whole Blackstone Valley Corridor. This award recognizes him for the whole arc of his work.”

Marie Langlois will also be recognized for her dedication to the park and the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, with this year’s Community Rose Award. A longtime member of the Rhode Island Foundation board of directors, Langlois will be recognized for her commitment to Roger Williams Park as a place for all Rhode Islanders. Retired after a career in banking and investments, Langlois’s financial acumen helped create the Conservancy and pave a path to financial sustainability for the park’s future. Langlois played a key role in the Rhode Island Foundation’s $10 million campaign for the park and was an early supporter of park improvements visitors see today.

“Marie has been an amazing supporter of the park and we’re looking forward to celebrating her,” Pari says.

The reasons for celebrating these award winners are important, but Pari hopes they — and everyone else! — just come to have fun.

He and the entire board of directors are excited to welcome park supporters, and those just looking to have a fun night out while learning more about the Conservancy, to the evening.

 “We’re all passionate about work that’s been done in the park,” he says. “Today we all enjoy the planning and generosity of others here. This event helps support the park continuing to grow and be cared for now and in the future, showcasing it as the city jewel it is.”

Growing impact

The bounty of roses blooming in Roger Williams Park come from the support and dedication of Rhode Island flower lover Vivian (“Jerry”) Palmieri, whose family worked with the Rhode Island Foundation to ensure a legacy of gardens across the state. The park’s rose gardens received a significant boost in recent years with generous restoration funds from the trust and creation of new landscaping and pathways.

The park’s rose gardens are among the largest public displays of roses in Rhode Island.

Guests at the June 6 fundraiser will get to see the rose maze’s latest improvements and hear more about ongoing park updates.

Pari says that other families like the Palmieris, and individuals, can set up funds with the Rhode Island Foundation and he has done the same, designating funds for the park through the foundation. “Anyone can do this, for whatever their passion or interest is,” he says. “The Rhode Island Foundation is the place for Rhode Islanders to leave an impact where they want it.”

Not only has Pari made the park his intention for future giving, he’s making it his choice now to contribute the bulk of his non-work time as a volunteer — his work for the park is a labor of love.

“I love the park,” he says, noting he’s been coming to RWP since he was young. “There’s the zoo, of course, but there’s more. COVID taught us that there are essential workers and also essential places and Roger Williams Park is one; it has been a place of healing for people. The park has been that for people since it was first created in Providence’s history.”

Pari says that the citizen-government partnership existing between the city Parks Department and the Conservancy is an inspiring model, and the kind of initiative that’s been part of the park since its start when the Casino was built with funding from lemonade sales, art around the park provided through private donations and, of course, Betsey Williams’ original gift to the city which provided for the park itself.

Pari and his team hope that events like Rosé in the Roses show off the park’s beautiful rose maze and introduce more Rhode Islanders to the park.

“The park is really developing as a complete campus,” he says, “and this evening is a great way to see and celebrate it. Put on your pastels, dress up or create your own cool fun look, come to have fun. Break out the hats and dresses and just be a part of the scene!”’

Tickets are on sale now! Buy your tickets here.

Sign up for the Park Conservancy newsletter HERE or email info@RWPConservancy.org to stay in the know about everything happening in Roger Williams Park. Interested in sponsoring or donating to Rosé in the Roses? Contact Bonnie Nickerson, Executive Director of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, at Bonnie@RWPConservancy.org.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *