Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Garden



By Judy Carmack Bross



 A bevvy of carolers and cider Moscow mules greeted more than 340 guests at The Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society’s 13th annual All Aboard! Gala November 30 who started their holiday celebrations at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Krehbiel Gallery. Chairs Nicole Peterson and Katie Ford, both Lake Forest residents, mingled amidst the magic of garden scale trains, eye-popping holiday plants, illuminated landscapes, and miniature replicas of Chicago landmarks—all part of the Wonderland Express exhibition, one of Chicago’s most beloved family holiday destinations.


Guests were greeted with cider Moscow mules and a quartet of carolers before entering the event.

Co-chairs Ryan and Nicole Peterson and Chicago Botanic Garden President and CEO Jean Franczyk.

Co-chairs Katie Ford, Nicole Peterson, and Woman’s Board President Nancy Kurz.

The gala supports Windy City Harvest, the Garden’s urban agriculture, education, and jobs-training initiative with the foresight to grow a local Chicago food system, creating healthier communities, and building a greener economy.


The stunning decorations weren’t limited to the indoors.

Associate Vice President of Urban Agriculture/Windy City Harvest Angela Mason, Jean Franczyk, Chairman of the Board Robert Finke, and Chris Hall of Chicago.

Another look at what guests were able to enjoy.

Kehoe Designs created the themed dining rooms, including “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” and “Star Light, Star Bright.” The Entertaining Company thought festive and seasonal, presenting hazelnut mousse and candied ginger for dessert. Guests departed with hot chocolate, star wand cookies, Garden Freak gardening gloves and paperwhite bulbs.


“Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

“Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.”

“Star Light, Star Bright.”

The evening was made possible by the generous support of A.M. DePrisco Jewelers of Lake Forest, Beam Suntory, The Entertaining Company, Garden Freak, Inc., Kehoe Designs, Sweet’s Lake Forest, and Terlato Wines International. Wonderland Express is  supported by ComEd, North Shore University HealthSystem, Discover, and Grainger.  


Chicago Botanic Garden Executive Vice President and Director Fred Spicer and Kim Spicer.

One more glimpse at the amazing decorations.

Photos by The Chicago Botanic Garden

For more information about the holidays at the Chicago Botanic Garden, visit chicagobotanic.org