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Olmsted Gala to honor couple

Victor and Corinne Rice will be honored with this year's Frederick Law Olmsted Award at the fifth annual Frederick Law Olmsted Gala, starting at 7 p.m. July 20 in Cazenovia Park Casino. The event is sponsored by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Carriage rides, cocktails, dinner, an auction and dancing under the stars will be featured.

Rice is a trustee of the conservancy and his wife is a trustee emeritus and former chairwomen of the conservancy's board. Both are described as "very passionate about urban parks and share a mutual love for Buffalo and the historic Olmsted Park System," according to conservancy spokeswoman Joy Testa Cinquino.

Alison Derrick and Catherine Hart are chairwomen for this year's gala. Co-chairwomen are Barrie Carmel Koehler, Gigi Hetzner, Toni Jenkins Holifield, Cheryl Lyles, Lou Petrucci and Linda Soltis.

During the cocktail hour, a silent auction of tickets to a Sabres box, an Olmsted Park bench and the planting of a silver maple tree at the winner's home will be held. Music will be by Mir Ali and wine by Barefoot Wine, and a full course sit-down dinner will be catered by Oliver's before the Soul Providers play for dancing.

The gala is named for America's most renowned landscape architect and creator of Buffalo's Olmsted Park System. The conservancy is a nonprofit organization of volunteers who assumed full responsibility for the city's network of Olmsted green spaces three years ago.

Now in its 29th year, the conservancy is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the entire 1,200-acred Olmsted system, including Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Riverside Park, South Park and the site of this year's gala.

Designed in the early 1800s, South Park and Cazenovia Park, located in South Buffalo, are adjoining 106 acres with connecting parkways. It is a place to picnic, play ball or just relax. For Cazenovia Park, with its gently sloping topography, Olmsted created a lake with bays and islands by enlarging the bed of Cazenovia Creek and planting the irregular shoreline with trees and shrubbery. The casino was built in the early 1900s.

Bank of America is platinum sponsor of the gala and BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, for the fourth year, is gold sponsor. Lifetime Health Medical Group, Barefoot Wine, Delaware North Cos., NOCO Energy Corp., Uniland and Unilock also are corporate sponsors.

Tickets are $175 each and $1,500 for each table of eight. For tickets information, sponsorships or other inquiries, contact the conservancy office at 838-1249 Ext. 17.

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