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Southwest Airlines Community

Supporting the Crown Jewel of St. Louis--Forest Park


On an early June day, right in the middle of one of the most beautiful urban parks I’ve ever seen, I arrived at the World’s Park Pavilion in Forest Park to find a few (well, let’s say 1,000 or so) of the most AMAZING hats a girl has ever seen! 

Not only were these some of the most unique, quirky and fabulous hats I’d ever seen, but the hat owners were some of the most loyal supporters of their community who have made outstanding commitments to this crown jewel of St. Louis, Forest Park.    How does one thank all these loyal supporters?   By throwing a fabulous party where everyone wears their best hat of the season, of course. 

The Hiram Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon is the annual fundraiser of Forest Park Forever, an organization whose mission is to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s great urban parks, for the enjoyment of all … now and forever!

As secret judges scouted the hat scene looking for the “best of the best” in five categories (whimsical, couture, romantic, vintage and judges choice), event attendees sipped on lemonade, chatted about hat designs and enjoyed the spectacular setting of what brought them all together, the park that dates back to 1876.   And finally, the time had come!   Lunch was over, and the final show stopper of the event (what everyone had truly been waiting for) was about to happen--the parade of hat winners.    Twenty ladies received that special tap on the shoulder, the one informing them they were a winner.  They gathered in the back, and then, like a fashion show to rival any in New York or Milan, the parade of winners began.  As thousands in the audience clapped, each winner proudly struck a pose on stage so the photographer could get that perfect shot of them in their prize winning design!

And just like that, the perfect party in the park was over (at least until next year), and the luncheon had raised almost $410,000 for St. Louis’ beloved park, helping to keep it beautiful, safe and accessible for all.

To all the ladies of the Forest Park Forever Women’s Committee:   Thank you for all your hard work in organizing this wonderful community event!   Southwest Airlines was honored to be a small part of this spectacular day in park. 

AND…if you haven’t had the chance to visit Forest Park, you really should add it to your summer “to see” list.   To learn more, visit