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Former Mad Hatter’s Tea Chairs: Sharon Ballew (2010); Carmaleta Whiteley Felton (2012); Lisa Loy Laughlin (2014); Dyann Skelton (1996); Carole Ann Brown (1989); Venise Stuart, Chair of the 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea; Yvonne Crum (2002); Barbara Bigham (1995); Linda Ivy (1993); Jocelyn White (2016); Linda Spina (2017); Sharon Adams (1991).

Mad Hatter’s Tea 30th Year Theme Reveal Hosted By TOOTSIES
benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
and A Woman’s Garden

Linda Burk, Honorary Chair | Venise Stuart, Chair | Melissa A. Lewis, President

Mad Hatter’s Tea 2018 chair Venise Stuart, along with Linda Burk, honorary chair and Melissa A. Lewis, president of the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, welcomed committee members and supporters to TOOTSIES to reveal the theme of next spring’s Mad Hatter’s Tea.          

Anticipation filled the room as many former Mad Hatter’s Tea chairs joined in to celebrate the upcoming 30th year. Eyeing TOOTSIES winter fashions were Carole Ann Brown, who chaired the first Mad Hatter’s Tea in 1989, and former chairs Sharon Adams (1991), Linda Ivy (1993), Barbara Bigham (1995), Dyann Skelton (1996), Yvonne Crum (2002); Sharon Ballew (2010), Carmaleta Whiteley (2012), Lisa Laughlin (2014), Jocelyn White (2016) and Linda Spina (2017).

TOOTSIES hosts and store director Nerissa von Helpenstill and manager Dustin Holcomb provided luscious eats and champagne as everyone browsed the fashions, eyeing all of the new arrivals.

Venise and Melissa began by welcoming everyone and inviting the former chairs for a photo. Dr. Linda Burk was announced as honorary chair, saying that she has a longtime love of gardening. Linda and her husband, John, donated one of the engraved stones in The Pulpit in A Woman’s Garden, which were laid following the opening of Phase I in 1997.

The big reveal came as covers were lifted from the posters and the logo by Lynn Townsend Dealey appeared. A huge round of oohs, aahs and applause stirred through the crowd as Venise announced the theme, “A Garden by the Sea,” which will reflect a time of grace, elegance, style and sophistication. Think of men in trousers, blue blazers and straw hats and women in elegant, long flowing dresses, parasols, hats with ribbons and lace with accessories of coral, sea shells and hydrangeas. 

The Gilded Age serves to bring to mind most notedly, Newport, Rhode Island.  Mark Twain coined the term "Gilded Age" for those living in Newport.  During this period of time, mansions and gorgeous seaside gardens were developed, such as The Breakers, Beechwood, Rosecliff and others were built and owned by tycoon moguls (and, of course, sophisticated ladies) of the era - the Vanderbilts, the Astors and others. Tea was held in the parlors and dances every night.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 12, 2018 and join the over 450 ladies and gents who travel from all over the United States and some from out of the country to celebrate spring in Dallas at the Mad Hatter’s Tea – many in wild and wonderful hats and to view the glorious springtime azalea displays and flowers that grace the Dallas Arboretum.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. with a champagne reception in Ginsburg Plaza, judges will watch and wander through the stylish crowd, choosing favorites in categories soon to be announced. Jan Strimple produces the fabulous fashion show sponsored by TOOTISES in Rosine Hall, emceed by Jocelyn White.   After a spirited live auction, hat winners are announced and strut the stage. A lovely luncheon is served under elegantly draped white tents with colorful table settings, some sporting huge floral centerpieces and chandeliers.

Since its inception in 1982, the Women's Council has supported the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.  It funded and continues to develop and maintain A Woman's Garden, the only public garden in the nation built by women and dedicated to the universal spirit of women.

Individual patron tickets begin at $350. A limited number of individual tickets at $250 will be available through the website in Spring 2018 at   Underwriting opportunities and naming sponsorships are available. Contact Sharon Ballew, First Vice-President Fundraising, at or 214-282-1595.

For photos from past Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties and more information, visit the website at 

Updates:     For updates and photos, visit the Mad Hatter’s Tea Facebook page:


Photos by Dana Driensky. Logo by Lynn Dealey.

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