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Forest Park Visitors Center
Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center © archived photo

Forest Park Forever Meets and Exceeds $130 Million Fundraising Goal to Improve Forest Park and Expand Endowment for Long-Term Care
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, March 14, 2018 - Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to care for Forest Park, has announced that it has met and exceeded its $130 million goal for Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future. The most ambitious fundraising campaign in Park history, the Forever campaign has raised more than $139 million in gifts and pledges from the community to achieve two goals:

1. Expand the endowment for Forest Park by $100 million so that money is available each year to keep up with the enormous maintenance needs of this 1,300-acre space

2. Raise at least $30 million to fund urgently needed Forest Park improvement projects in partnership with the City of St. Louis

The Forever campaign's origins trace back more than a decade, when the City of St. Louis and Forest Park Forever began discussing how Forest Park could best be maintained and operated in the future, as well as how to preserve the dramatic gains made during the initial $100 million restoration in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After a study identified a gap in annual funding needs for Park maintenance and with a new phase of urgent restoration projects needing funding, the Forever campaign was crafted to address both needs: greatly expanding the endowment for annual Park care and raising funds for specific capital projects. As part of its formal agreement with the City, Forest Park Forever committed to raising $130 million in contributions from the community by 2018. With today's announcement, Forest Park Forever celebrates that it successfully met its commitment to the City within the established timeline.

"We are deeply inspired by the community's commitment to restoring and sustaining Forest Park," said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever. "We would like to thank each and every donor, as well as our terrific partners with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. While our work here will never be complete, we are so proud to celebrate this milestone with the Forest Park community."

"Forest Park is one of our key civic treasures and the most visited attraction in the region, welcoming 13 million annual visitors from around the world," said Lyda Krewson, Mayor of the City of St. Louis. "Through its productive partnership with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever and its donors are helping sustain this beloved destination for the benefit of the entire community."

"Forest Park is one of this country's greatest urban parks and something we can all enjoy and be proud of," said Greg Hayes, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry with the City of St. Louis. "A park this large and popular is expensive to maintain. Through this fundraising effort, our partners with Forest Park Forever are helping ensure that Forest Park continues to thrive."

"Forest Park is a crown jewel for the community and an essential civic asset for the region," said John H. Ferring IV, Forever Campaign Chair. "Thanks to our Forever campaign donors, we are better able to sustain Forest Park's beauty - and keep it from slipping back into disrepair as it did during the last century. I applaud our generous donors at every level for being part of this successful and important effort."

"Forest Park is for all of us," said Lawrence E. Thomas, Forest Park Forever Board Chair. "Whether it's a family enjoying a reunion at a picnic pavilion, a couple taking their wedding photos at the Grand Basin or a running group rounding the path system and staying healthy together, everyone expects their Forest Park experience to be great. This successful fundraising effort proves just how essential Forest Park is to our community - and secures its place for years to come."

"Party at Pagoda Circle" - Free Public Celebration on April 11, 2018

To celebrate this milestone with the entire community, Forest Park Forever is hosting a free gathering around iconic Pagoda Circle, between the Muny and the Boathouse, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, from 5 - 7:30 p.m. The entire community is invited to enjoy live music from local favorite Fat Pocket and tasty bites from some of our area's best food trucks, and gather with fellow Park users to celebrate its place in our lives. No RSVPs are necessary. Families are welcome.

Fountain at World's Fair Pavilion
The fountain on Government Hill beneath the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

Forest Park Is the 'Crown Jewel' of St. Louis
In 1876, Forest Park was created from 1,371 acres of land west of downtown St. Louis. By the 1890s, the public park was widely used for recreation with bicycle paths, baseball diamonds and lawn tennis courts. An expanded lake provided parkgoers with an opportunity for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. Funds were raised to develop the St. Louis Zoo by the Forest Park Zoological Association.

The western half of the metropolitan park was used as the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Today, the Saint Louis Art Museum occupies one of the few remaining structures built for the Fair. The Missouri Historical Society is comprised of the new Emerson Electric Center and the Jefferson Memorial Building. The building was the first memorial built to honor Thomas Jefferson and was funded with proceeds from the 1904 Fair.

A natural amphitheater near Art Hill was developed as The Muny in 1917 with proceeds from a theatrical production called the Pageant and Masque which was performed on a stage built over part of the Grand Basin.

In 1936, an Art Deco-style Conservatory opened in Forest Park. The Jewel Box is surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments and houses seasonal displays.

The site of a razed Mounted Police Station became space for the McDonnell Planetarium which was completed in 1963. In 1984, the city sold the Planetarium to the Museum of Science and Natural History. The building, renamed the St. Louis Science Center, is connected by a highway overpass and tunnel to its new headquarters, south of Forest Park.

Private donors to Forest Park Forever paid for the $1.1 million restoration of the World's Fair Pavilion. The current renovation is the first of three scheduled phases of Forest Park Master Plan. Forest Park is used by more than 13 million visitors a year. Forest Park Forever was founded in 1986 to work in partnership with the Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry to rehabilitate and maintain the Forest Park as the "Crown Jewel" of the metropolitan area.

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race have been relocated to Art Hill due to construction on Central Fields. The Concours d'Elegance and Easter Car Show is held on the Muny upper parking lot.

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