By: Norma Diaz
Our client, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, celebrated an amazing milestone in October: the completion and opening of Buffalo Bayou Park. For more than four years, BBP and Elmore PR team have worked to generate awareness and publicity for the transformation of this iconic park west of downtown. The months and weeks leading up to the October 3 public celebration were the culmination of significant planning.
The week leading into the opening was quite busy with daily KHOU Great Day Houston segments, Houston Chronicle front page news coverage, and TV live shots highlighting the features of the park and the festivities planned for the public. The day of Oct. 3 was no exception! Starting bright and early, my colleague Jennie Bui-McCoy and I met at the KRIV studios where Roxann Neumann, Silver Eagle Distributors Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Buffalo Bayou Partnership Board Member, along with park volunteer Laura Conely, gave a live in-studio interview about the park and festivities. On the other side of town, Kim Tarleton was with Buffalo Bayou Partnership Board Chair Collin Cox, his son Clayton Cox and The Dunlavy’s Grant Cooper for a live interview at the KHOU Channel 11 studios. After the interviews, the Elmore PR project team (including Susan Elmore, Elizabeth Hurt, Claudia Morlan) regrouped and met the client at the newly-completed Water Works to prep for the dignitaries and public arriving for the ribbon cutting.
The afternoon itself was perfect for a park opening—low humidity and a cool breeze. KHOU meteorologist Chita Johnson emceed the event with remarks offered by Collin Cox, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Annise Parker, Council member Ellen Cohen, and Rich Kinder. Major kudos went deservedly to Buffalo Bayou Partnership President Anne Olson and architect Guy Hagstette. With a “one, two, three” there was an eruption of streamers, the ribbon was cut, and cheers marked the park’s official opening. The Batala drummers followed as the attendees made their way to the Hobby Family Pavilion Lawn to continue the celebration.
Thousands of park goers enjoyed and explored the new destinations including the magnificent new views of the downtown skyline from The Water Works and the nature play area. At Lost Lake, there were food trucks, new architecture and art lectures. At the renovated Eleanor Tinsley Park, visitors enjoyed kids’ crafts, lawn games, the Bud Light Beer Garden and live music.
The pinnacle of the evening was the volunteer-driven procession Confluence: A Journey in Five Movements featuring large and small illuminated lanterns created and carried along the trails by more than 400 volunteers. The lanterns ranged in bayou themes from snapping turtles, mosquitos and butterflies to canoes, art cars and running shoes while 30 colorful magnolias glided down the bayou. At the culmination of the parade, fireworks decorated the sky.
Though I was not part of the Buffalo Bayou Park team from the early years, it was truly an honor to see the hard work of the park’s design and construction teams come to completion and to be part of the opening of this beautiful park for all Houstonians to enjoy.