Linda Dyer Hart of event planning business Dyer Hart Productions is known for putting her heart into everything she does. That passion, and her Irish ancestry, are behind the success of her company's biggest event of the year - the Charlotte St. Patrick's Day Parade and Charlotte Goes Green Festival. As the parade and festival's founder and president, she developed it from a group of revelers walking down Tryon Street with a bagpiper in 1996 to what has become an all-day celebration that attracts tens of thousands of attendees from Charlotte and beyond.
For the 2016 parade, Linda's networking skills secured the event's most high profile Grand Marshal yet in its 20-year history: Anne Anderson, the first female Ambassador from Ireland to the United States. "I met her at a luncheon at the Irish Embassy in Washington two years ago," Linda says. "We struck up a conversation and I told her I would like her to be the Grand Marshal of the Charlotte parade. Numerous other cities with St. Patrick's Day parades asked her to be their Grand Marshal but she said yes to Charlotte." It turns out it was a memorable day for Ambassador Anderson, too - it was the first time she was Grand Marshal of any St. Patrick's Day parade.
Linda grew up in Connecticut amid a fascinating family background. Her maternal grandfather was an internationally famous French engineer and was president of U.S. Vanadium Corporation; her Irish great-grandmother was in the State Legislature in Connecticut in the 1940s; her uncle was National Editor for Hearst newspapers and won a Pulitzer Prize for interviewing Khrushchev; and her mother grew up in Paris, New York and Palm Beach.
But especially interesting is Linda's education from age 14 to 18 at a Catholic convent boarding school outside New York City. "Coming of age in a convent in the 1960s sounds dreadful but we had a lot of fun - I loved it," Linda says. "It was an international group of girls. Some of them had fathers who were presidents of (foreign) countries. The nuns were always taking us into New York City for cultural events but also exposed us to people that were living on the margins of society and instilled in us a sense of caring for people and helping those less fortunate. That's where my social conscience was formed."
In 1970, when Linda was 18, she made her debut at New York City's famous Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball (known as the Infirmary Ball) at the Waldorf-Astoria. Her escort was a young man from Bal Harbour, Florida, named Frank, also 18. He was the son of one of Linda's mother's friends. They didn't know it that night but they would soon fall in love. Now married for 40 years, they have two children and a grandchild.
Linda took a break from her busy schedule to answer questions about everything from her favorite hotel in the world to the best business advice she ever received.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Italy. Our son had a destination wedding in Rome. We spent several days traveling around Italy and several days at the Cinque Terre. Loved it! Our next adventure is a trip up the west coast of Ireland.
What are your must-have beauty products?
Bold red Lipstick. I can’t leave the house without it. My favorites are Guerlain's Rouge Automatique #123 and Chanel Rogue Velvet #40. Good cleanser and moisturizer.
What's your favorite restaurant for a big night out?
Fig Tree in Charlotte and Local Dish in Fort Mill, S.C.
What’s your favorite brunch spot?
RiRa in Charlotte or Toast in Fort Mill.
What’s your favorite restaurant for lunch?
Amelie’s in NoDa or Rock Hill.
Any recent art purchases?
Original concert posters from the Fillmore East.
What's your favorite hotel in the world?
Hotel Hermitage, Monte Carlo and in the U.S we like the Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, California. We go to New York City in the Fall and always stay at the New York Marriott East Side at Lexington and 49th, a block from Park Avenue. Great location!
What's your favorite flower?
Any museum exhibits or arts performances you’ve either seen recently, or plan to see soon?
Recently saw The Book of Morman in Charlotte and also recently visited the National Air & Space Museum in D.C. We spend a lot of time in D.C. so we always visit the museums.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Casablanaca, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
What are some of your favorite books?
The Stories of John Cheever, Peter Matthiessen’s Killing Mister Watson, The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Crime & Punishment by Dostoevsky.
What inspires you?
Poetry, Jazz, interesting people.
Is there anything you loved as a child that still influences you today?
Reading, collecting books and going to old bookstores.
What is your favorite color?
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Make the calls! Never be afraid to ask for the order and close the deal.
What do you love about this stage of your life?
We have a three-year-old grandson and we are at the stage of our life that we have the freedom to travel and do what we want without anything holding us back - except for our dog and two cats.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
Nordstrom and Belk.
Who has influenced your style the most?
My grandmothers and my mother. They were very elegant, sophisticated women and all had a great sense of style.
Was there any beauty or style advice your mother or grandmother gave you that you’re thankful for now?
My grandmother always said arch your eyebrows, stay out of the sun and don’t lift your forehead when showing expression as it will cause wrinkles.
Do you have a motto or words you live by?
What are your favorite charitable causes?
Homeless, cancer and animal rescue organizations.
What’s your most treasured article of clothing?
I have a beautiful Christian Dior red coat that I bought in New York City years ago. It looks like new and I always get compliments. If you buy quality it will last forever. Fashion always comes back. I have a few Emilio Pucci dresses that I’ve had forever that are back in vogue and of course I always wear Lilly Pulitzer in the summer. She was a good friend of my mother’s in Palm Beach and my mother always wore Lilly Pulitzer dresses.
What’s your most treasured accessory?
A charm bracelet given to me by my mother.