Pam's Party Line for March 2, 2014

Just when you think the Baton Rouge Symphony’s Pennington Great Performers in Concert series couldn’t possibly get any better, Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, series co-chairman Johnny Tate and conductor Timothy Muffitt thrill us right down to our toes all over again.

Great Performers

Chinese pianist Lang Lang lived up to his billing and more as he performed with the orchestra Feb. 22 in a night none of us will forget anytime soon. At times, he seemed to become one with the piano.

And as mesmerizing as Lang Lang was, our very own symphony was equally amazing with its opening performance of Ravel’s “Bolero,” showcasing every section of the orchestra.

This magical night got underway with a black-tie gala at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. The champagne flowed and party goers noshed on shrimp, crab, oysters and lobster. And the piano keyboard cake was a jaw-dropper. It was surrounded by chocolate and white chocolate grand pianos and other sweet delectables.

Special guest for the evening was Chinese Consul General Xu Erwn from Houston. A little birdie shared with me that police officer Britt Jones rescued her and her lost entourage and escorted them through the Mardi Gras madness going on that night (three balls and a parade) to deliver them safely on the red carpet as LASM. He even pointed out a few of our city’s highlights en route.

Kudos to Diane and Johnny Tate, who serve as series chairmen, gala chairwoman Alice Kronenberger and committee members John D’Angelo, Cynthia Campbell, Emily Davis, Debbie and Julie Dumas, Marianne and Bo bby Freeman, Lindsay Guerin, Joshua Hayes Jr., Carole Marshall, Lois Saye, Marcy Simoneaux and Russ Chapman. And to Paula and the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Best Dressed

One of the most anticipated announcements of the new year is the city’s list of best dressed men and women. The speculation was laid to rest Feb. 20 when this year’s honorees were announced at a luncheon hosted by the American Cancer Society at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Welcoming guests, which also included past honorees, nominators and voters, sponsors and committee members, was Best Dressed Ball Chairman Dan Jumonville.

After announcing Brian Harris Audi as this year’s title sponsor, Jumonville announced the names of those who’ll be in the spotlight at the 47th annual ball April 5 at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium. They are N icholas Abraham, Rick Bond, Shanna Boudreaux, Kenneth Brown, Dr. Vince Cataldo, Helena Cunningham, Ryan Engquist, Derek Fitch, Cherie Giblin, Jenny Gray, Jason Guerin, Rhaoul Guillaume, Betty Jackson, Jessica Johnson, Ann McCanless, Jennifer McCarthy, Kelly Sills, Gina Tharp, Greg Tramontin and Meeta Patel Williamson.

Washington Mardi Gras

The welcome mat to the Governor’s Mansion was rolled out Feb. 19 for Louisiana’s festival queens and the young women being presented as princesses at the Mystik Krewe of Louisianians Carnival festivities in Washington, D.C. Gov. Bobby Jindal and wife Supriya hosted a coffee for the entourage before they boarded the plane headed to the nation’s capital. Several of the queens came bearing gifts from their respective festivals for the Jindals, who presented each young woman with a wooden paperweight bearing the state seal.

Baton Rouge area princesses included Caroline Lancaster Bevan, daughter of Mary-Virginia and George Bevan; Chancely Nicole Courson, daughter of Gay and Bud Courson; Alexis Justine Craven, daughter of Andrea and Patrick Cravin; Sydney Kathryn Duhé, daughter of Staci and Craig Duhé; Ellen Marie Farmer, daughter of Lisa and Jason Thomas; Mimi Marilyn Guercio, daughter of Ann and Rob Guercio; Cammie Beatrice Heroman, daughter of Debbie and Rickey Heroman; Breon Joi LaFleur, daughter of Vanessa and Brian LaFleur; Mary-Grace Pollet, daughter of Drs. Mary-Nell and Stephen Pollet; Natalie Louise Ross, daughter of Nancy and Tom Delahaye, of Plaquemine; and Elizabeth Jane Sherman, daughter of Jane and Dr. Stephen Sherman.

Local area festival queens included Kaelah Alysse Cobb, daughter of Norma and Charles Cobb, Louisiana Cotton Festival; Meredith Claire Conger, daughter of Laurina and Robert Conger, of Prairieville, Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival; and Deanna Kaycee Keller, daughter of Dianna and Ralph Keller, of Plaquemine, International Acadian Festival.

Traveling from the Lafayette area were Princesses Megan Elizabeth Borel, daughter of Drs. Carrie and Robert Robichaux, of Breaux Bridge; and Leigh Ann Miller, daughter of Ginger and Rick Miller, of Scott; and festival queens Jasmine Marie Abdalla, daughter of Elizabeth Abdalle, of Lafayette, Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Festival; Anna Alicia Angelle, daughter of Rebecca Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, Crawfish Festival; Macy Maraé Boudreaux, daughter of Crystal and Mark Boudreaux, of Breaux Bridge, Yambilee Festival; Kayla Nicole Bourgeois, daughter of Dawn and Nelson Bourgeois, of Raceland, Catfish Festival; Caroline Kaye Porter, daughter of Norleen and Richard McIntosh, of Lafayette, Delcambre Shrimp Festival; Kelsey Paige Primeaux, daughter of Paulette and Alcide Primeaux, of Rayne, Gueydan Duck Festival; and Bonnie Consuelo Rees, daughter of Kay and Dan Rees, of Breaux Bridge, Order of the Troubadours.

On the Move

I had just enough time after the coffee to swing by the paper before heading to LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center for Baton Rouge’s first-ever, sold-out On the Move luncheon benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society . Featured speaker for the event was former U.S. Cycling champion Maureen Manly, who share her compelling story of living with MS.

Maureen was at the height of her career in 1991 when she lost her vision and crashed during the Women’s Tour de France. “I rode my bike off one road and onto another,” she said. “I began a life journey that has given new purpose and meaning to my life.”

She also made the decision not to let MS define her life. “I got married, went to grad school, had a baby, got divorced and bungee jumped,” she said.

Rebecca Pennington, vice president of development, presented a couple of awards. Dr. April Erwin, an MS specialist at the NeuroMedical Center, was honored as the 2014 Person on the Move. Sam’s Club, represented by Covington store manager Chris Cuevas, received the award for Company on the Move.

WAFB-TV’s Diane Deaton served as emcee for the luncheon. Baton Rouge Leadership Committee members include Robin Baker, Jamie Beeman, Frances Billeaud, Mary Boudreaux, Donna Hildebrandt, Tom Hildebrandt, Cynthia Kragthorpe, Jennifer McGehee, Carolyn Moore, Jim Nichols, Dr. Kathy Pearch, Crispin Reily Tullis, Aimée Simon, Kelly Wahlheim, Judy Williams, Shalonda Walker and my hostess, Connie Smith.

Cancer Services

The day ended at a thank-you reception for those who stepped up in support of Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge’s mission “to improve life for those living with cancer” last year. This was an event forced to reschedule because of the freezing weather we experienced at the end of January, but the staff didn’t miss a beat and pulled off a lovely event. They even turned the wig room into a quaint little bar for the night.

Executive Director Brian Hannah thanked everyone for their efforts, adding that more than 4,600 people received services in 2013. One of those was young Brooklynne Robertson, who got much-needed help from the Bella Bowman Foundation’s tutoring program. Her story was told in a video that you can also see online at .

To view photos, please click here.

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