Last week, we had our world rocked, we emerged, we celebrated mudbugs and we became engaged. And, then there were the debutantes!
‘Rock Your World’
This year’s theme, “Rock Your World,” for the 47th annual Best Dressed Ball on April 5 benefiting the American Cancer Society is a bit of an understatement. There was a sellout crowd at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium to see this year’s honorees strut their stuff on the runway; and strut some of them did. No one will likely soon forget the normally button-down Ryan Engquist and partner Jessica Johnson’s finale .
Also in the spotlight were fellow honorees, “Guns & Roses” Shanna Boudreaux and Kenneth Brown, Helena Cunningham and Rick Bond, Cherie Giblin and Dr. Vince Cataldo, Jenny Gray and Nicholas Abraham, Betty Jackson and Greg Tr am ontin, Anne McCanless and Rhaoul Guillaume, Jennifer McCarthy and Jason Guerin, Gina Tharp and Derek Fitch and Meeta Patel Williamson and Kelly Sills.
Next on the runway were male and female models in some jaw-dropping fashions from Chatta Box, Martinez Custom Clothier, Currie and Lukka. Let’s just say, the world rocked by the time it was over and tongues are still wagging. The evening wrapped up with dancing to the sounds of the Bucktown All-Stars.
While all of the honorees’ table decorations were beautiful, I just have to give a shout out to interior designer Kenneth Brown. I had admired his roses turned upside down in their vases earlier in the night and, if I’d thought about it for a minute, I would have realized such an out-of-the-box creation could have only come from him. Gentleman that he is, he confessed that staff member Dan Baer was the one who actually pulled it off.
Speaking of pulling it off, kudos to Carole Fredrickson for stepping in at the last minute to narrate the Best Dressed presentation for an under-the-weather Julie Dickinson … hope she’s feeling better.
After three years of fundraising and lots of hard work, those who helped make the Emerge Center a reality got to see the results of their efforts at a VIP party April 3. The ribbon was officially cut in a ceremony the next morning.
It’s been a while since I saw that many smiling faces under one roof, and they all were justified. One of the happiest people there, well, aside from Executive Director Melissa Juneau, was former board Chairwoman Colleen Waguespack, who headed up the capital campaign. Also beaming were Dee Dee Reilly, Mary Jane Howell and Winnie Byrd, former Junior League members who helped start the center’s predecessor, the Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation, more than 50 years ago.
The center is an amazing facility we can all be proud of as it serves as a “beacon of hope for children, adults and their families facing communication, behavior and developmental challenges.” If you missed our story about the new center last week, you can find it at theadvocate.com.
Stop No. 2 that night was the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society’s fifth annual CrawFête! gourmet crawfish tasting and auction at Mockler Beverage Co. This year’s event was a sell out, with lots of first-timers who with repeat foodies helped raise more than $26,000.
Judging by their response to the delicious culinary offerings starring mudbugs and the wines the dishes were paired with, most of them will be back next year. Mestizo’s chef/owner Jim Uridales’ Mexican Arancini, Louisiana Crawfish & Orzo balls served over Roasted Poblano & Corn Soup was voted the People’s Choice Award. Several of us determined Latil’s Landing at Houmas House chef Jeremy Langlois’ Crawfish & Lobster Tower as the dish most likely to make you want a cigarette after eating. Also creating chatter (and lines) were Sullivan’s Steakhouse chef Leighton Carbo’s Crawfish Corn Dogs and Pelican House chef Matthew Reed’s Mini Hoisin Crawfish Tacos.
Other participating restaurants and chefs included David Dicksauge, Bin 77 Bistro & Bar; William Wells, Culinary Productions; Barrett Meeks, Galatoire’s Bistro; Samantha and Cody Carroll, Hot Tails Restaurant; Joey Daigle, Juban’s Restaurant; Rober Alamirie, Outback Steakhouse; Jermaine Gordon, Ralph & Kacoo’s; Scott Varnadoe, Restaurant IPO; Gino Sclafani, Ruffino’s; Camille Staub, Sammy’s Grill Catering; and Mark Reilly, Stroube’s Seafood & Steak.
The night wasn’t just about good eats and wine, though. There were several tempting epicurean items up for bids in the silent auction. BRES also handed out some checks, proceeds from last year’s fundraisers. Recipients included Girls on the Run, $32,000; ProStart, $4,000; Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s Backpack Program, $10,000; the Sunshine Foundation, $5,000; and the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, $10,000.
The day actually began at a Community Engagement Luncheon hosted by Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. Honored as Champions for Children at the event were retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Kitty Kimball and Tulane University professors and clinical child psychologists Paula Zeanah and Julie Larrieu.
Executive Director Amanda Brunson pointed out the results of the most recent ACE study that shows child abuse and neglect cost us $80 billion a year. “The bottom line is, we either pay now or we pay later,” she added.
On the front end, PCAL is renewing its efforts to engage the public, educate parents and advocate for family services by forming partnerships with other agencies working toward the same goal. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Steven Spedale talked about the formation of committee to study what the problems are facing Capital Area, in particular related to death due to head trauma. “We’re really committed to growing,” said Brunson.
After the luncheon I headed to Boudreaux’s for the Baton Rouge Opera Guild’s spring recital featuring BROG scholarship recipients and honoring longtime supporters John Turner and Jerry Fischer. Welcoming guests was President Pat Felder, who turned the program over to Robert Grayson, chairman of LSU’s voice/opera division. He introduced fellow faculty from the LSU School of Music and then the place was filled with song.
Performing were soprano Ariana Douglas, recipient of the Dr. & Mrs. Leo Abraham and Alma Lee & H.N. Saurage Jr. scholarships given by Insa Abraham and the Alma Lee & H.N. Saurage Jr. Fund, respectively; tenor Greg Gallagh e r, recipient of the James Coday and Gerald Wilcox memorial scholarships, given by Judy and William Zollinger and Marlene Wilcox, respectively; soprano Betsy Uschkrat, recipient of the John Turner Scholarship given by Sue Turner; baritone Sam Carroll, recipient of the Dorothy Halphen Kolb and Elaine K. Schudmak memorial scholarships, given by Shirley Bergeron and Susan and Feltus Leake, and Ann Keogh, respectively; soprano Jenée Luquette, recipient of the Polly and John Hernandez Fund Scholarship established by Susan Dawson, Pauline Bondy Hernandez Scholarship established by John Hernandez, Katharine O. Dunham Memorial Fund and Baton Rouge Opera Guild Member scholarships, all given by BROG; tenor Micah Callahan, recipient of the BROG Member Scholarship given by the guild membership; baritone Sean O’Mall e y, Joseph Dawson Jr. Memorial Scholarship, given by Susan Dawson; soprano Carline Waugh, recipient of the Ernest A. Gueymard Memorial Scholarship, given by Anne G. Shirley and Davis Gueymard; and baritone Erik Erlandson, recipient of the Thomas C. Landrum Memorial Scholarship, given by Lillian Landrum.
‘An Evening of Elegance’
Kyia Bernice Young was crowned queen of the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s annual debutante cotillion, “An Evening of Elegance with Ebony Pearls,” on March 29 at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium. The daughter of Jacqueline Cosey-Young and Kirt Young, she was one of 20 young women comprising this year’s debutante coterie. Her escort was Joshua Shepherd.
Tapped as princesses were first Princess Maya Lauren Marie Williams, daughter of Rosalyn and Michael Williams, escorted by Isaiah Myers; second Princess Kacey C. Moore, daughter of Cynthia Moore Miller and Irving Moore Jr., escorted by Herbert Breaux IV; third Princess Kierra DéShay Washington, daughter of D’Sean and Troy Washington, escorted by Jawun Giovanni; fourth Princess Kirsten Quenette Brooks, daughter of Vinette and Derrick Brooks, escorted by Joshua Morris; and fifth Princess Catherine Elizabeth Singleton, is the daughter of Toni and Percy Singleton Jr., escorted by Garrett Sylvan Jr.
Maids were first Maid Jasmine Kelli Odom, daughter of Hazel and Lawrence Odom, escorted by Murphy Nash III; second Maid Savasia Afiya Sanders, daughter of Kimberly and Willie Sanders, escorted by Darion Myer; third Maid KéGan Semmone Taylor, daughter of April Hawthorne and Roderick Taylor, escorted by Maurice Askins; fourth Maid Chaneyra D. Valentine, daughter of Penny and Steven Valentine, escorted by Larry Keys; fifth Maid KéAira Anderson, daughter of Suzanne and Lee Anderson, escorted by Willie Morrison Jr.; sixth Maid Tiyana Roykel Brackins, daughter of Tiffany Quiett and Roy Brackins Jr., escorted by Deonte Shorts; seventh Maid Jadyn Alexis Hasley, daughter of Adriana and Earl Hasley, escorted by Jalon Paul; eighth Maid Shannon Alexandria London, daughter of Tywanda and Michael Barrow, and Reginald London, escorted by Aaron Nelson; ninth Maid Jade Newell, daughter of Crystal and Eric Patterson, and Anthony Newell, escorted by Tacovi Pecot; 10th Maid Lauren Elayna Hall, daughter of Tammy and Curtis Hall, escorted by Justin Gibson; and 11th Maid Nadia Amaris Whitfield, daughter of Cheryl Whitfield and Lionel Roach, escorted by Taylor Matthew.
Pearls were Jordan Paige Simmons, daughter of Shannon and Jason Simmons, escorted by Brian Keith Norton Jr.; Asia Natrese and India Charlese Williams, daughters of Natalie Evans and Frank Franklin, escorted by Kendall Pidgeon and Erin Drye, respectively. Asia Williams was also recognized as Miss Amity.
Chapter President Linda Early Brown welcomed guests and led the toast. WAFB’s Michelle McCalope served as emcee. Marjorie McClinton was general debutante chairwoman while Errin Gaines, Joycelyn Green, Cynthia Godfrey, Kimberly McCants and Sheila Sims served as chairwomen. Also assisting with the cotillion were choreographer Gracie Perkins, J áVonna DáShawn Lewis, Toyia Charles-Comminey, Gina Domingue, Gwendolyn Etienne, Veronica Gray, Eileen Kennedy, Gloria London, Chandra Stacie and Clyde Watkins. Proceeds from the ball are awarded as college scholarships as well as to sponsor community service projects.
Sixteen young women were honored by the River Road Chapter of the National Charity League for their volunteer work in the community at NCL’s annual “Senior Soiree” March 29 at the Baton Rouge Marriott. Over the past six years, the group has volunteered more than 2,758 hours.
The honorees, escorted by their fathers, included Jenna Renée Baldwin, daughter of Terri and Jeff Baldwin; Conley Claire Bourgeois, daughter of Anna and Saint Bourgeois; Danielle Renée Cavalier, daughter of Terrie and Danny Cavalier; Leah Elizabeth Dean, daughter of Peggy Dean and the late Danny Dean; Amanda Marie Duke, daughter of Josie and Keith Duke; Sarah Joan Eggie, daughter of Brenda and Barry Eggie; Catherine Olivia Feltner, daughter of Kim and Mark Feltner; and Madeline Anne Fontenot, daughter of Coila and Dean Esposito, and Patrick and Angie Fontenot.
Also, Alexis Amelia Garland, daughter of Karen and Doug Garland; Elizabeth Ann Gutierrez, daughter of May and David Gutierrez; Sarah Elizabeth Haik, daughter of Rita and Brad Haik; Taylor Marie Jarreau, daughter of Alicia and Scott Jarreau; Juliana Marie Major, daughter of Marilu and Jeff Major; Mary Katherine Miller, daughter of Carla and Eric Miller; Maria Celeste Rome, daughter of Eileen and George Rome; and Lauren Elizabeth Schexnayder, daughter of Barbara and Kim Schexnayder.
As a memento of the occasion, each honoree received the traditional NCL silver charm from President Beth O’Quinn. Major also received an award for the most cumulative service hours. Schexnayder received the award for the most service hours during her senior year.
Desirea Gutierrez was chairwoman for the soirée. Charlene Guarisco served as mistress of ceremonies.
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