Fêtes make chilly nights warm and bright
Another cold front blew through Baton Rouge on Dec. 14, making dressing for the round of that night’s holiday parties something of a challenge for us girls, at least. Coat or no coat? Sleeves or sleeveless? Bring the umbrella or chance that the rain is finally over? So many decisions and so little time! In fact, lack of time limited my ability to make it to all the celebrations I was invited to attend. I tried, I really did. So, to be fair I went in order of invites received.
La. Role Models
The day started off with the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Links at its eighth annual Jazz Brunch celebrating Louisiana Role Models Hall Davis IV, founder of Hall’s Kids We Care; Ernest Gaines, award-winning author; John Gray, musician and educator; Claryce Jordan Minor, administrator of the Louisiana School for the Deaf; Jean Montès, director of orchestral studies and coordinator of strings at Loyola University in New Orleans; Ronald Smith, executive director of the ExxonMobil YMCA; the Rev. August Thompson, retired Catholic priest; the Rev. Lee Wesley, founder of Together Baton Rouge and Together Louisiana; and Greg Williams Jr., founder of New Venture Theatre.
Chapter President Brenda Birkett welcomed guests, who included Enid Francis, Southern Area director of the Links Inc. WAFB-TV’s Michelle McCalope served as mistress of ceremonies.
This year’s brunch was chaired by Maxine Cormier. Committee members included Dianne Brandon, Billie Cunningham, Cheryl Hall-DeRouen, Candice Dixon, Yolanda Dixon, Maruetta Wailes Elbert, Mica Franklin, Charlotte Henderson, Jacqueline Hill, Carmen Jones, Vivian Kerr, Judy Johnson-White, Ernise Singleton, Yolunda Taylor, Irene Tucker and Barbara Woods.
The round of evening holiday parties kicked off with the gang from Avalon Salon. Owner Scott Brewer opened up his home for the celebration between staff, clients and friends.
Lucky me, I was Brien Buxton’s “plus one.”
This congenial group was a great way to start off my night of party hopping.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t pop into Jim Gershey’s and Dan Guntner’s annual get-together. I mean, I have to go check and make sure Jim’s reindeer collection is on display.
I just missed seeing buddy Carol Newman, but fortunately I did get to visit with William Evans, Bobbie Bernard, Eddie Sims, Robin and Brian McAndrew, Caprice McClure, Greg Melowney, Jeff Stafford and Bill Cocreham.
I always end this night of party hopping at Karen and Bill Profita’s very elegant “throw down.” I can always count on rubbing shoulders with old media friends and this year was no exception.
I enjoyed my conversations with former co-workers Chris Russo Blackwood and Susan Ross, Glen Duncan and wife Karen, Dan Molina, Ward Blackwell, Bobby Soileau, Michelle Southern, Andrea Zemarlick and Brian Haldane; and non-media friends Charlene and Stan Montelaro, Helen Graff, Barbree and Jim Layne, Arthur Metrailer, Tom and Kathleen Sylvest, Marvin and Susan Borgmeyer, Joanne and Juan Carrillo, Melissa Parmalee and Jesse Hoggard; and, course, our gracious hosts.
Since there were two rooms I never made it into, I’m sure I missed a lot of fun folks. Like I said, so little time.
Plaquemine Garden Club
Traveling across the river for the Plaquemine Garden Club’s annual Christmas Tea has become one of my cherished holiday traditions. This Dec. 13 celebrated my 20th year of seeing how this talented group of women decorated the hostesses home for Christmas.
As usual, they pulled out all the stops in gussying up the home of Annagelle Son, daughter of club member and hostess Julie Hebert.
Welcoming the several hundred guests with the hostesses were club President Marian Medine and tea chairwoman Verlee Guilbeau, who also did duty as decorating chairwoman. Madeline Kessler was food chairwoman and Dot Griffon was beverage chairwoman.
I enjoyed my annual visits with my two favorite Joyces — Joyce S. and Joyce B. Hebert, as well as with Rita Lynn Jackson, Gwen Gum, Brenda Blanchard, Janelle Nadler and, very quickly, Jeanne Pannepinto.
Club members transforming the Son home into a Christmas paradise included Paula Alexander, Peggy Alonzo, Melwyn Barker, Brenda Blanchard, Shirley Blanchard, Barbara Breaux, Janis Brown, Janet Bryant, Lou Anna Canella, Jackie Carville, Nancy Delahaye, Katherine Desselles, Lucille Distefano, Jeannine Dunn, Gwendolyn Gum, Angelic Hebert, Joyce S. Hebert, Mary Jo Hymel, Betty LaBauve, Sandra Landry, Nichole LeFebvre, Gail LeJuene, Carol Anne Marionneaux, Marion Medine, Mary Lou Medlen, Denise Miranda, Rosamond Nicolosi, Jeanne Panepinto, Linda Panepinto, Ramona Perrin, Patty Phillips, Sheryl Ramirez, Gloria Weldon and Patsy Williams.
‘Classic Homes & Cocktails’
Normally I would have run into Emily Wilbert at the Christmas Tea but she had already left by the time I got there because, like me, she and husband John were heading to Baton Rouge for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s “Classic Homes & Cocktails.” This year’s benefit soirée showcased two historic homes and three offices that were former homes located in the Beauregard Town historic district that have been rescued and given new life.
The evening began with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the Old Governor’s Mansion, which was also the site of the “Tacky Christmas Sweater” competition.
FHL board chairman Doug Cochran had the daunting task of selecting the winner — a twinkling Mary Eleanor Harris.
This year’s tour featured the headquarters of the Louisiana Mid Continent Oil & Gas Association, known historically as the Standard Oil House; the Chambers House, which burned and is now the officers of Reich & Associates Landscape Architects; the law offices of Rodney Messina; and the homes of the Shaffer and Viguerie families.
Dancing for Big Buddy
The list is out — and I’m not talking about Santa’s! Big Buddy announced the Star Dancers for its eighth annual “Dancing for Big Buddy” at a Dec. 12 luncheon in the Legends Room of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, the spot for the April 26 gala.
Showing off their moves will be Stephanie Anderson, Allison Collins, Keith Dixon, Renea Duffin, Darrin Goss Sr., Ashley Hebert, Melanie Hebert-Wyatt, Gabby Loubiere, Michael Marsh, Dr. Aimée Russo-Mounger, Aimée Simon, Lonnie Stockwell, Michael Tipton and Patrick Valluzzo.
For the next six weeks, they’ll be working to master the routines taught by their professional dance partners.
Stepping up to the plate and donating their time and talent this year are Leonard Augustus, LeConte Banks, Courtney Black, Claire Broyles, Kris Cangelosi, Jerise Grantham, LeBrian Patrick, Rivers Peterson, Charlotte Thorne, Lisa White and Van Vo.
The night before, I joined a group of art supporters at an impromptu farewell for Lafayette artist Robert Dafford — the talent behind the massive blues harp mural now gracing the outside wall of the Belle of Baton Rouge’s Capital Atrium. It’s quite a breath-taking sight as you head into Baton Rouge across the Mississippi River bridge.
Hosting this intimate get-together were Fairleigh and John Jackson and Chris Brooks, who is president of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation. They not only thanked Dafford, who confessed he’d wanted to paint a harmonica for years, but also the Belle and Todd Graves, who helped fund the project.
The week of party hopping began with the Baton Rouge Camellia Society’s Christmas get-together at the home of Rebecca and Bob Christian. I’ve known most of these members by email and photos only, so it was nice to finally meet face-to-face. And, the hostess and society President Gerald Phares made sure I met as many of the guests as possible during my brief visit.
Assisting the hosts were Jo Hitter, Dottie Ward, Kay Clark and Donna Welch.
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