It’s official! The fall social season is in full swing. School has been in session for several weeks, rush is over, the Tigers are off to a good start and two of fall’s traditional kickoff events have now taken place. It all began Sept. 5 with the first Bengal Belles luncheon of the season.
Some 700 purple-and-gold adorned women (and a few brave men) filled the River Center Ballroom for the luncheon starring coach Les and Kathy Miles and hosted by The Advocate. This is one of those events you have to experience to fully understand. It begins with boutique shopping for the latest in Tiger gear for the fashionable die-hard fan. Then, when Bob Blanchard cranks up the LSU “Pre-Game,” it’s time to head in for lunch.
Thanking sponsors and the Belles for their continued support was Bengal Belles President and founder Aimée Simon. She proudly announced that to date the Belles have raised more than $1 million for LSU’s Academic Center for Athletes before calling on former coach Jerry Stovall for the invocation. Stovall asked everyone to say a special prayer for former coach Paul Dietzel, who was celebrating his 89th birthday in the hospital.
Next up was Kathy, who asked Bob why he didn’t play “We Are Family” when she came to the mic. “We’ve been here nine years, and I’m thankful for that,” she said to applause.
Emcee Gordy Rush then pointed out a photo of Les trying to hold back the team as they get ready to run from the tunnel in the Bengal Belles program and asked his wife what she thought he was saying to his team. “I probably can’t repeat what he was saying,” she said, laughing, “Probably something like, ‘Let’s kick some …’”
When coach arrived, Rush asked him the same question. “Let’s kick the piss out of them,” Miles said, “But in reality I’d never say that. I’m sure I said, ‘Gentleman, let’s take the field.’”
Joining the Mileses in addressing the Belles were junior offensive tackle La’el Collins, junior defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, senior safety Craig Loston and senior wide receiver James Wright. Loston got to take home the coveted homemade Bengal Belles cookies for his “take the field” impersonation of Miles.
It was kind of like going in a circle because I was back at the River Center around dinner time for Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge’s 31st annual Capital Chefs’ Showcase. Serving as honorary co-chairmen this year were LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and wife Karen, and Raising Cane’s founder Todd Graves and wife Gwen.
Stepping up to the plate to provide some rather unique and tempting live auction items were former LSU baseball coach/Athletic Director Skip Bertman, “Project Runway All Stars” winner Anthony Ryan Auld, musician David St. Romain and local food blogger Jay Ducote. Another several hundred items were up for bids in a silent auction, and attendees could also take a chance on a $4,000 shopping spree at Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry.
Participating restaurants and caterers included 18 Steak, Alexander’s Highland Market, Mary R. Aycock, Baton Rouge General, Beausoleil Restaurant & Bar, Blend Wine Bar, Café Americain, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chef Celeste’s Louisiana Treasures, Chef Don Bergeron Enterprises/Mid City Market, Chef Wanda Calkins Catering, Culinary Productions, Don’s Seafood — Gonzales, Drusilla Seafood Restaurant & Catering, Duplantier Catering by St. James Place, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fresina’s Pasta Co., Heirloom Cuisine, Jasmines on the Bayou, Juban’s Creole Restaurant & Catering, Kleinpeter Farms Dairy, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, Lé Creole Restaurant, LPK Bar & Grill, Mansurs on the Boulevard, Mike Anderson’s Seafood, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Portobello’s Grill, Roberto’s River Road Restaurant, Serrano’s Salsa Co., Sincerely Sweet, Stroube’s Seafood & Steaks, Superior Grill, The Steakhouse at Hollywood Casino, Unique Cuisine and Zea Rotisserie & Grill.
In between these two events, I made a quick stop at the Renaissance Hotel for a gala benefiting Heritage Ranch, a Christian children’s home located in Zachary. Emcee for the evening was LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell; Myles Laroux served as auctioneer for the live auction.
Among the items up for bids were a “New Orleans Escape,” which included overnight accommodations, dinner at Ruth’s Chris and two tickets to watch the Saints play the Dallas Cowboys Nov. 10; a tailgating package for LSU’s homecoming game against Furman, including four tickets; and a “Golfer’s Dream” package, which included a round of golf for four at University Club and Carter Plantation.
Committee members included Julie Allor, Meredith Eicher, Amy Horn, Kimely Pitre, Kristy Nikolaus, Lindsey Roussel, Liz Shenefelt, Blake Steger, Mimi Plauché, Sarah Munson, Helene Wall and Teresa Whitaker.
‘Here’s to You …’
The A.P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Chapter of the LSU Alumni Association and alumni of the LSU Gospel Choir teamed up for a two-day reunion celebration that kicked off with a wine and cheese reception for the committee and sponsors at the Manship Theatre Sept. 6.
Special guests for the evening included A.P. Tureaud Jr., LSU’s first black undergraduate student, who attended under court order in 1953 and, who after 55 days, was dismissed from LSU in a legal maneuver subsequently revised by the courts; wife Faye Darensbourg Tureaud; sons Alex and Andrew Tureaud, of Connecticut; and sisters Carole, Jane and Janet, all of New Orleans; and 95-year-old Pearl Payne, who was the successful plaintiff in the 1952 lawsuit that desegregated the LSU Graduate School.
Also in attendance were 2012 LSU Alumnus of the Year John S. Butler, of Austin, Texas; Judge Sylvia Cooks, Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal; LSU Legend Carolyn Collins; Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson; Thelma Perkins; Kenneth O. Miles, interim vice provost of the LSU Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs; Damon Andrew, dean of the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education; and LSU Gospel Choir director Laurence Hebert.
Sunset on the lakes
Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest but not so on Sept. 8 when I hit no less than three events. The first was an amazing cocktail party hosted by John Turner and Jerry Fischer for the Louisiana International Film Festival. Greeting guests and posing for photos outside as we arrived at the spectacular home overlooking the LSU Lakes were “pirates” DeCha Laveau and Luke Watson, who also posed. Inside, a head-to-toe body painted minstrel welcomed us.
Now, if you’re a regular reader of “Party Line” you know I rarely talk about food and flowers but in this case I just have to give a shout out to caterer Margo Bouchaund and florist Lance Hayes. The food, which was scrumptious, was almost too pretty to eat and the all-white arrangements of hydrangeas and roses were absolutely breathtaking.
The purpose of the soirée was to celebrate the success of Executive Director Chesley Heymsfield’s debut festival earlier this year and there was lots to celebrate. More than 60 films were screened during the four-day event, which took place in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and had a cumulative attendance of 4,000. Chesley and co-artistic director Dan Ireland also announced the dates for the 2014 Louisiana International Film Festival — May 8-11. To keep up to date on the event, visit the website, LIFILMFESTIVAL.org.
Battle Against Autism
Stop No. 2 was the Battle Against Autism party and auction at Ruffino’s. This is a kickoff to the annual golf tournament which took place the following day. Both events benefit The Emerge Center, formerly the Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation. The place was packed by the time I got there and the live auction was about to get underway. One of the items up for bids in the live auction was a painting that was getting its finishing touches by artist Alex Harvie.
But nothing was happening before Battle Against Autism founders Sandy and Chip Robinson thanked their guests and supporters. “Shut the front door! Go look at this building,” exclaimed Sandy, adding that the center would not be a reality without supporters like those there that evening.
My final stop took me downtown where the Manship Theatre was celebrating the opening of its 2013-2014 season with a cocktail reception in the theater gallery. There another artist, Taufeeq Muhammad, was painting the evening’s featured artist, Dr. John. His creation was about to be auctioned in a live auction just before the VIP guests, which included board members and sponsors, headed inside the theater for the performance.
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