My best friend, artist and author Elizabeth Swanson, didn’t want a 70th birthday celebration, but her husband, Clarke, decided it was such a milestone that we were going to celebrate and surprise her! His first phone call was to me – thank goodness – and we went into high gear.

Clarke booked the upstairs loft dining room at Ye Ole College Inn. Of course it was a Saturday night during Jazz Fest, so we needed help from owner Johnny Blancher, who’s the best! I called Luis Colmenares and he created a birthday chair along with whimsical centerpieces depicting Elizabeth’s favorite drawings. Diane and Tom Winingder brought wigs and second-line umbrellas, as well as hats and bling for everyone. Lynne and Hunter White flew in from the Bahamas and Cristina and George Fowler and her sisters flew in as well! We all hid downstairs in the video poker room until she arrived, and we had the whole restaurant sing “Happy Birthday Elizabeth!”

After dinner, we put on the wigs and hats and second-lined to Rock ‘n’ Bowl and even got on stage with the band! The chair and all of the centerpieces created by Colmenares have been shipped to Naples, Florida, where they’ll be a lasting memory to Elizabeth of how much she’s loved and how fabulous she is at 70 years young! 
 

70th Birthday Surprise  70th Birthday Surprise
70th Birthday Surprise  70th Birthday Surprise