Since The Advocate began publishing a New Orleans edition, I’ve had multiple invitations to party in the Big Easy. With Baton Rouge’s jam-packed October social calendar, that proved impossible. But then Alabama rolled into town for a showdown with LSU Nov. 3, and all partying moved to Tiger Stadium for the weekend. That left my schedule fairly free. So I headed to New Orleans. Be sure and check out the photos from my weekend of fun, as well as all the events here in town, online at http://www.theadvocate.com.
My first stop was the Tulane Alumni Association’s 11th annual Helluva Hullabaloo, hosted by former “Mad Men” star Bryan Batt. Since I’m a HUGE fan of that show, I have to admit I was a bit star struck. Anyway, Bryan couldn’t have been nicer nor could Tulane President Scott Cowen and my media contact Debbie Grant. In fact, everyone I met that night was most welcoming and had nothing but nice things to say about our presence in New Orleans.
Aside from serving as host for the evening, Bryan also did duty as auctioneer for the live auction, and boy did they have some fab items up for bids. There were drinks and conversation with Bryan, a Super Bowl package, tickets to “Saturday Night Live,” the chance to watch the Saints play from Tom Benson’s suite, a trip to the Masters Golf Tournament, box seats to the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, dinner and theater in New York City with award-winning actress Blythe Danner and a weeklong stay at Maison Montfort in France.
I ran into Marjorie Cowan the next afternoon after having lunch with childhood friend Stanley Cohn. We were walking into Ballin’s to say hello to his wife, Jane. Anyway, Marjorie was all excited that she and Scott won the dinner with Blythe Danner.
Like I do so often here in Baton Rouge, I party hopped in NOLA. From Tulane I headed down St. Charles and made my way to Canal Street and the Marriott for the Greater New Orleans Division March of Dimes Signature Chefs’ Auction. This year’s black-tie event was co-chaired by Drs. Bennie Nobles and Brian Barkemeyer.
While the evening was about good food, good wine and a good time, it was also about a good cause. That point was driven home by Brooke and Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire, who shared the story of their triplets, who were delivered at 32 weeks, the smallest weighing 3 pounds and biggest not much more … “about the size of an overstuffed poboy” as Dr. Hilaire described them. It preceded the evening’s big money maker — a “fund the mission” appeal that had guests raise their bid numbers to pledge amounts ranging from $5,000 to $250. The Brown Foundation pledged $5,000 and then agreed to match additional bids up to an additional $5,000.
Not only did the celebrity chefs provide some scrumptious eats, they also ponied up some tempting culinary packages for the evening’s live auction. Stepping up to the plate were chefs Mark Quitney, 5 Fifty 5, chefs’ chairman; Frank Brigtsen, Brigtsen’s; René Bajeux, René Bistrot; Vincent Catalanotto, Vincent’s; Janine Falvo, Renaissance Atlanta Midtown, Atlanta; Tenney Flynn, GW Fins; Alex Harrell, Sylvain; Justin Kennedy, Parkway; Norman Love, Norman Love Confections; Chad Penedo, Court of Two Sisters; Alison and Slade Rushing, Mila; Vinny Russo, M Bistro; Michael Sichel, Galatoire’s; Chuck Subra Jr., J.W. Marriott; and Jared Tees, Manning’s.
Serving on the event committee were Shellli Ali, Ned Bergin, Kimberley Bradley, Charlotte Burnell, Ashley Brulet, Linda Brulet, Michelle Brulet, Michelle Burtch, Dr. Alice Cryer-Sumler, Lisa Futrell, Dr. Juan Gershanik, KaTrina Griffin, Sharon Hannahan, Dr. Jane Miller, Terri Romano, Leonetta Terrell, Pam Viator, Louis Wilson, Sandra Wilson, Angela Westbrook and Karen Villavaso.
After years of hearing about the Audubon Tea Room and Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, I finally got to experience both at the New Orleans Opera Guild’s first-ever Champagne & Jazz Brunch Nov. 4. I also got to meet my new email buddy, Jean Rice, who was my host and chairwoman of the fundraiser. While milling around and meeting new people, I thought I was seeing double until tablemate Beth Cristina explained that Jean has an identical twin sister, Joan Ingram. Further conversation with the twins revealed that we have mutual friends — Kathleen and Vic Howell. Beth’s (a real estate agent by day, artist by night) painting was used as the event’s invitation and was one of the many tempting items in the silent auction.
Before my trek to New Orleans, I was partying with the ladies of Trianon, who were celebrating 38 years of service to The Arc of Baton Rouge at “A Holiday Event” luncheon and style show at the Renaissance Hotel. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Trianon event if it didn’t begin with its famous Coffee Punch and the opportunity to buy members’ fresh-baked breads and tiles made by the students of the Arlington School.
As we were almost through with lunch, the style show featuring holiday-inspired fashions from Chatta Box got underway. Models included Lindsey Brackin, Debbie Elkins, Donna Campbell, Julie Cefalu, Kasey Emos, Dee Grant, Nicole Gregory, Ann Guercio, Beth Haynes, Connie Hester, Lizzie Kenelly, Shashi Koritala, Nancy Neal, Elizabeth Nolan, Jennifer McCarthy and Alison Rogillio.
Julee Doiron, whose mom was one of the founders of Trianon, Stella Goodbee and Adele Noonan chaired this year’s event. Great job, ladies!
The day began with a stop at Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry’s Bocage store — something I highly recommend — where Scott Berg and staff were hosting a meet-and-greet for Italian artist and jewelry designer Ippolita. She has a warm, bubbly personality that would make you want to be her gal pal even if her jewelry designs weren’t to-die for, which they absolutely are. I hope she’ll come back for another visit one day soon.
Another jam-packed day was Nov. 1. Stop No. 1 was Volunteers of America Parker House, which was celebrating 35 years of caring for abused and neglected children. Agency chaplain Bud Snowden gave a unique history of Parker House by taking us all along on a personal stroll down memory lane. He then turned the microphone over to former board chairman Bill O’Quin, who was joined by wife Gail in presenting Val Jackson, better known as Val Jack, with a special award in recognition of her 20-plus years of service to Parker House and its special residents.
Entertaining us all were some of the Parker House kids, who carried large letters spelling out “PARKER” and explained what it meant to them. Then we all gathered around the cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to this very special place.
From here it was on to LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center for Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge’s All Red Affair. This year’s event, which benefited Family Service’s Linkages, HIV Care Coordination and HIV Women & Children programs, honored the Scott Rogers family and Iris and the Rev. Eric Williams family.
Host committee members included Jay Augustine, Kenneth Brown, Charlotte Cantwell, Chad Cornett, Molly Israel, Linda Johnson, Michelle Lofton, Melissa Parmalee, Jill Stokeld, Larry Tingle, Jim Urdiales, Whitney Vann and Jacqui Vines.
I just had to drive across campus for my next stop, LoLo Jones’ Hurdles of Hope launch party at the LSU Legends Club. Under the auspices of the LoLo Jones Foundation, Hurdles of Hope is a program that seeks to address barriers and challenges faced by families with incarcerated loved ones. Making the first donation to the project (to the tune of $10,000) was BP America, for which Jones serves as an Olympic Ambassador.
Earlier in the day, Jones visited with students at McKinley Middle Magnet and Capitol Middle schools. For more information on the foundation and Hurdles of Hope, visit the website, http://www.runlolorun.com.
The night wrapped up at the lovely home of Susan and Emile Rolfs, who were hosting a celebration for the LSU Museum of Art’s Endowment Society and new director Jordana Pomeroy.
Since this was the last stop, I got to unwind a bit and visit. It was fun to visit with Beth Fuller, Adrienne Moore, Barbara Anne Eaton, Suzette Tannehill, Michael Robinson, Don Boutté, Fairleigh Cook and Jordana, who I’d met briefly at the museum’s Fourth of July event.
The week’s party circuit began with the Better Business Bureau’s Douglas Manship Sr. Torch Award for Ethics in Business Oct. 30 at the new L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. The award honors businesses which exhibit the highest ethical standards of behavior toward customers, suppliers, users, shareholders, employees and the community. The winners are selected by an independent panel of judges.
This year’s winners included Hidalgo Health Associates, one to 10 employees; Bryson Law Firm, 11-99 employees; GMFS, 100-299 employees; and Cox Communications, 300 or more employees.
Ethan Collins received the Youth Torch Award scholarship. Featured entertainer and speaker for the evening was the one and only Percy Sledge.
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