a man named John Nichols with his arm around his wife Alexandra Nichols

The Chicago Botanic Garden: Partying in Paradise







The twilight beauty of the Botanic Gardens bloomed for guests at Chicago’s loveliest summer evening al fresco, the Summer Dinner Dance. The evening kicked off in the gardens amongst the lagoons, with guests gathering in a vibrantly lit, flora-filled tent that mirrored its idyllic setting for a seated dinner and dancing, all ending the night guided by luminarias lighting the path to the gate.


Diana Rauner and Gov. Bruce Rauner.


A toast in the tent.


The flower arrangements by Revel added even more color to the evening. Photo by Robin Carlson.


Summer Dinner Dance co-chairs, John and Gillian Growdon, Jane Irwin, Michael Andrews and Ryan Ruskin (not pictured Cassie and Steve Gavin).

Summer Dinner Dance Co-chairs Cassie and Steve Gavin, Gillian and John Growdon, Jane Irwin, and Ryan Ruskin and Michael Andrews welcomed the 400 guests who helped raise almost a $1 million for the Garden that evening, while convivial Botanic Garden President and CEO Jean Franzyk chatted with guests at every table.


Terry Peterson, MarySue Barrett, Phyllis Lockett, Jean Franczyk, Jane Irwin, and Chris Hall.

The Northern Trust served as the evening’s sponsor, with Food for Thought creating the colorful menu served throughout the night by a gracious team, and Revel and Frost designing the spectacular tent situated on the Esplanade. Maggie Speaks played while guests danced the night away.


Guests dined and danced in a tented pavilion on the Esplanade, designed by Revel and Frost.


Inside the tent the lights by Frost changed colors throughout the evening. Photo by Robin Carlson.


Bob and Laurie Hamman.

The program reflected why the event, themed “color in the garden,” has become so important to Chicagoland’s ever-changing 385-acre treasure:

“At the Chicago Botanic Garden, we believe that beautiful gardens and natural environments are fundamentally important to the mental and physical well being of all people. More than one million visitors come to the Garden each year, and many more benefit from our horticulture, conservation science, and education programs locally, nationally, and internationally. Fundraisers like the Summer Dinner Dance make this possible.”


John and Alexandra Nichols.


Mary Streep and Barry MacLean.

The well-heeled and eco-savvy host committee included Joe Gromacki, Cate and Rick Waddell, Howard Trienens, Helen and Dick Thomas, Vicky and David Byron Smith, Laura and Robert Probst, Alexandra and John Nichols, Maxine and Tom Hunter, the MacLean family, Rita and John Canning, Jane and David Casper, Karen Harris, Pam and Joe Szokol, Penny and Jim DeYoung, Elizabeth and Tim Dugan, King and Caryn Harris, Patricia and William Hagenah.


Adam and Ali Gerchen and Rachel and Billy Silva.


Anna and De Lu Jackson.


Greg and Annie Jones.


Topher and Peyton Merrill and Julie and George Peinado.


Michael Jaharis and Sandie Xu.


Greg Veza and Chris Williams.


Peter and Shana Ellis.


Michael Andrews, Lisa McClung and Blasko Ristic, Ryan Ruskin, Susan Silver, and Jeff Weiss.


Arnold and Jen Randall.


Photo credit: Robert Kusel