Wow! What a week we had here in the Capital City: early holiday shopping with the Junior League; breakfast with a Beverly Hills housewife; and dinner with one of country music’s biggest stars, all on the same day; and tributes to several people who make me proud to call Baton Rouge home.
It all started with the revamped, rejuvenated Hollydays’ Preview Gala, “Blitzen Bash,” Oct. 24. This year’s committee, headed by Katie Culotta Shoriak, really kicked things up a notch or two. The new decorations were fantastic; the layout inviting — made you mingle, not congregate in one spot; the music by Jeremy Davenport and band was spot on — not so loud you couldn’t carry on a conversation; and the shopping opportunities with the addition of 60 new vendors — let’s just say I did my part. Also seen doing a bit of shopping were BeBe Facundus, Barbara Anne Eaton, Susan Eaton, Karen and Bill Profita, Marianne and Bobby Freeman, Liz and Kevin Harris, Meg Gerald and mom Pat Richards, Rose Hudson, Julie Dickinson, Lindsey Chustz, Bobby Bernard, Eddie Sims and Ann and Steve Storey.
I have to say, judging by comments from gala goers, the verdict is mixed on the “festive attire” dress code. I always liked the glitz and sparkle of the opening of Hollydays. Seems like there are fewer and fewer let’s-get-all-gussied-up events these days. I kind of miss them.
While the evening was definitely all about partying and shopping, Junior League President Leslie Campbell and Christi Pierce took a few moments to present Warrick Dunn with a check for “Betty’s Hope,” a mobile program that brings grief support into neighborhoods and schools.
Now I’ve gotten pretty good at party-hopping over the past 19 years, but when everything starts at the exact same time and they’re all really big events, that presents a challenge. I just couldn’t make it to the Burden Botanical Garden for the Burden Horticulture Society’s Wine & Roses fundraiser Oct. 24, so I had to enlist the help of The Advocate’s photo department to help me out.
This year’s soirée honored Ginnie Bolin, founding chairwoman of the society, whose mission is to promote the garden through educational programs, volunteerism and fundraising. Proceeds from the evening will help complete the Burden Pavilion, a key component of the Burden Master Plan.
Leslie Bardwell and Kitty Hessburg co-chaired the event. Assisting them were Mary Douglas, Judy Foil, Jack Hightower, Barbara Hughes, Barbara Lauden, Jeannie LeBlanc, Penny Miller, Susan Severance, Margo Spielman and Cornelia Weldon.
The following evening, Baton Rouge General honored Dr. Eugene Berry and Albemarle Corp. at its Excellence in General Gala at the Crowne Plaza. Honorary chairmen for this year’s event were last year’s honorees, the Claude Kirkpatrick family — Edith, Kris and Kay Kirkpatrick.
Berry, a recently retired cardio-thoracic surgeon, performed more than 4,000 open-heart surgeries during his 40-year career. In 1974, he became the second physician in the world to implant a pacemaker into a child less than a week old. Albemarle was recognized for its many philanthropic efforts, in particular those that benefit the General’s Burn Center.
It says a lot about both honorees that this year’s gala, chaired by Tereasa Olinde, was one of the most successful fundraisers to date.
Assisting her were Liz Anne Akers, Alysha Bonvillain, Chris Black, Michelle Cambias, Carole Fredrickson, Mike Fritz, Vanda Gray, Sarah Griffith, Ryan Houston, Shelton Jones, Debbie Kleinpeter, Evalyn Lank, Joelle Moukarzel, Tracey McDowell and Suzanne Sexton.
From the Crowne Plaza, I headed to the Renaissance Hotel for the Blue Ribbon Soirée benefiting Dr. Oliver Sartor’s Prostate Cancer Research Fund at Tulane Cancer Center. The wine-tasting event honored the late Dr. Larry Ferachi and the late Joel Nasca.
Providing the wines were Black Castle and Paul Bologna Wines, with additional beverages complements of Sauza Tequila and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Food sponsors included Bistro Byronz, Island Girl Bake Shop, Juban’s Restaurant, Louisiana Lagniappe, Mestizo Louisiana Mexican Restaurant, Oak Lodge Catering, Roberto’s River Road Restaurant, Sammy’s Grill, Serop’s Café, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Tallulah and Walk-On’s Catering.
Since this was my last stop of the evening, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the night. I had fun visiting with Phillip Cancilleri, who had volunteered his services as photographer for the night, as well as Linda Mitchell, Jan Attinger, Kellie Thorgeson, Cindy O’Neal, Gracie Rigell, Carol Goldsmith, Kim Hammett, and Chris and Bill Blackwood. Chris and Bill were using the night to meet his son’s soon-go-be in-laws, Celia and Prescott Deininger, who just happens to be the director of the Tulane Cancer Center.
“Are you the quarterback?” a wide-eyed elementary school student tentatively asked Zach Mettenberger. Zach grinned sheepishly and said yes as he shook the young man’s hand. When the kid wouldn’t let go, he asked him if wanted something. “Yes,” he said, “an autograph.” I had the pleasure of providing pen and paper.
This is what Big Buddy’s Day of the Mentor, which took place Oct. 26, is all about. Taking young kids and pairing them each with a mentor, exposing them to new experiences. Mettenberger wasn’t the only LSU Tiger to volunteer, either. Among those joining him were Alfred Blue and KeKe Mingo as well as Sheriff’s deputies and businessmen and women. They were all gathered for lunch at the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators after having spent the morning together at the mentor’s workplace. The smiles on everyone’s faces spoke volumes.
The evening of Oct. 26 had me downtown at the State Library for the ninth annual Louisiana Book Festival’s Authors’ Party. This year’s festival, which took place the following day, featured 150 authors including Advocate co-worker Smiley Anders, former Advocate writer Cynthia Campbell, poet Ava Leavell Haymon, former Baton Rougean Dave Madden, Mary Manhein, Wendy and George Rodrigue, retired Gen. Russel Honoré, Chris Rose, Alex Cook and “Meanwhile, Back at Café du Monde” author Peggy Sweeney McDonald and contributors Paul Arrigo, Missy Crews, Sandy Davis, John Gray and Jerry Leggio. I was hoping Rick Bragg, a fellow Alabamian who writes for Southern Living, would be there but he hadn’t arrived by the time I left.
With a lineup like this, it’s easy to see why this was proclaimed the second best book festival in the nation for authors to attend.
I had never seen an episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” until the Rev. Cleo Milano gave that as the answer to “What’s your guilty pleasure?” for The Advocate’s “Pop Quiz” column a few years ago. At that point I figured I better check it out and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I shared that story with housewife Kyle Richards just before the Junior League threw open the doors to its VIP Experience with her at this year’s Hollydays Oct. 27. She laughed and tossed that long mane of chestnut-brown hair as only Kyle can do. Those who ponied up for the “experience” not only got to meet and have their photo taken with Kyle, but they also got a signed copy of her book, “Life Is Not a Reality Show: Keeping It Real with the Housewife Who Does It All.” All that up-close elbow rubbing was followed by a Q&A session.
Later that evening, I found myself rubbing elbows with Clint Black, who was in town for a very special fundraising concert benefiting the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. A sound stage at Celtic Media was transformed for the intimate performance, presented by the Albemarle Foundation and hosted by Kathryn and Luke Kissam and Rachel and Mark Rohr. Joining Black on stage were brothers Brian and Kevin, and nephew Coleton, who were all celebrating the memory of Kevin’s daughter, Courtney, who lost her battle with Rett syndrome.
Dress code for the evening was “creative country or anything black” and 700 or so folks took it to heart. Linda Mitchell was channeling her rhinestone cowgirl complete with “Dallas big hair,” and more than one guy was sporting a replica of Black’s trademark cowboy hat. Stevie Toups served as auctioneer.
My night of party hopping began with a quick stop at Dixon Smith Interiors for the ninth annual art show for painters of Studio dei Leoni, a teaching studio run by artist Libby Johnson. Among the artists whose works are on display is good friend Margaret Lawhon Schott, who had a rather large oil painting titled “After the Show” of the daughter of a friend that she’s been painting since the now-teenager was 6 — absolutely beautiful. It and the works of the other artists remain on display in roomlike settings for the next two weeks, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Nottoway Plantation provided the perfect setting for a Sunday brunch honoring alumni of the LSU Law Center Oct. 20. Henson Moore III was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Louisiana Elizabeth Foote, of Alexandria; 19th Judicial District Judge Bonnie Jackson, of Baton Rouge; Kris Kirkpatrick, of Baton Rouge, founding partner of the Long Law Firm; William Morrison Meyer, founder of the New Orleans office of Liskow & Lewis and 1987 inductee into the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame; and Patrick Vance, of New Orleans, a partner and leader of Jones Walker’s Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group, were honored for their distinguished achievement.
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