PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont Beautification Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a "Party in the Park" on Sunday afternoon.
"Five women from the Piedmont Garden Club started the collaboration with the city in 1964 to raise money for beautification projects," said Valerie Matzger, a former mayor of Piedmont who is the nonprofit organization's assistant treasurer. "The collaboration between PBF and the city was farsighted. It's been a very good process for the past 50 years."
The foundation, which has raised more than $3 million from donors and fundraisers, logs 45 projects -- some large, some small -- that it has completed in concert with the city, including upgrades to Piedmont Park, commemorative trees and benches, as well as improvements to schools, medians and historical features. In 1991, the foundation established an Endowment Fund to provide an ongoing source of support for improvement projects.
For the most part, Matzger said, the city matches money raised by PBF, although there were also some lean years when the city could not afford to budget for beautification. City staff comes up with a "wish list" of projects each year that are reviewed and prioritized by PBF in conjunction with staff and the City Council.
"The city always has projects, whether they are new installations or maintenance," Matzger said. "Nothing lasts forever, as any homeowner would know."
One of the most exciting PBF renovations was the Japanese Tea House in Piedmont Park. The 100-year-old house was built in Japan and shipped to a private residence in Piedmont. The residence was sold in the 1970s to the Piedmont Unified School District, which donated the Japanese Tea House to the city.
"It's an amazing structure," Matzger said. "No nails were used in its construction; it's all done by wood joinery."
Willis Polk created the Exedra that leads into Piedmont Park after World War I.
"The details of the Exedra were crumbling away, so we hired Manuel Palos to restore it," Matzger said. "He used molds from the original Exedra to completely restore the original arch."
Other PBF and city of Piedmont projects over the 50 years include: the first community holiday tree lighting (1969); installation of the popular Benny Bufano's "Bear with Nursing Cubs" sculpture in Crocker Park (1980); bus shelter improvements (1996); the Dracena Park children's play area (2006); and the Piedmont Historical Photograph Collection.
The "Party in the Park" celebration adopts the theme, "Bouquets to Piedmont," a flower and photography show. "Bouquets" is a nod to the de Young Museum's exhibit called "Bouquets to Art," in which florists use pieces of art to inspire their arrangements. Local florists will draw their inspiration from photo enlargements of PBF beautification projects. In addition, a photography show called "Intimate Views of Piedmont" will be on view at the Japanese Tea House.
Guests will be treated to live music, including Shades of Gray in the Community Hall, Tim Hamano playing Japanese flute in the Tea House and HotFlash! -- which bills itself as "classic rock from the band that survived it" -- performing at the Exedra.
The Boy Scouts will fire up the grill for hot dogs and hamburgers. And a big 50th birthday cake, complete with candles, will be served in the Community Hall -- whose kitchen has been redone twice with money from PBF over the half-century.
PBF will sell packs of assorted notecards with photographs of beautification projects taken by Piedmont resident Scott Fitzgerrell.
"Scott has donated endless hours to making notecards and signs," Matzger said. "He's our local hero."
Guests will be able to purchase a commemorative tea towel designed by Jane Reed that shows a map of completed projects in the Highland Avenue and Mountain View triangle. Mark Feldkamp, Parks and Project Manager in the city's Public Works Department, will give guided tours of Piedmont Park.
Matzger said several garden clubs around the country have contacted PBF for advice on how to set up the unique public-private partnership.
"You're doing something not only for your garden club, but for the community as a whole, especially in these more challenging financial times," Matzger said.
What: Piedmont Beautification Foundation's 50th anniversary celebration, "Party in the Park."
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Piedmont Park