About this time of year, I feel like the police who, at the stroke of midnight, head up Bourbon Street announcing, “Mardi Gras is over. Lent has begun. Please clear the streets.”

Much as we love our rhinestone royalty, fantastic floats, baubles, bangles and beads, many actually look forward to Ash Wednesday and a bit of fasting. I applaud those who rest their livers for 40 days and nights but don’t count me in. I thought about giving up pedicures for Lent,
then decided “Not.”

Lots of royal types have put down their scepters and pulling out their 12-gauges to prep for “The Dugan Westfeldt Sporting Clays Classic” March 21 at Donald Vallee’s High Point Shooting Grounds in Belle Chase. For those without guns, a Cajun Night on March 20 is the opening salvo. All of this benefits the Chartwell Center, which serves children with autism and related disorders, a cause near and dear to both Linda and Tommy Westfeldt. Get on your dancing shoes, grab your gal or gun and have some fun. Are crack shots Dev Morning or Fred Ingraham available for lessons?

The beads have reappeared on trees along the parade routes; ditto the Japanese magnolia and roses in City and Audubon parks. It is beginning to feel quite like spring, which means love is in the air, lots of gals have sparklers on their and several have babies in their arms.

Louise Walshe Balart has rings on both her right and left hands placed there by Paul Hogan; the one is the engagement ring of his grandmother, the other he designed. Sweet. Tealy Dippel, Sally Westervelt Neyrey’s daughter, was in town recently showing off her love rock from Taylor Hewgley of Memphis; the date’s set for January 16, 2010. And its official: Michael Kearney and Karyn Noles will also seal the deal; date unknown.

After 40 years of marriage, love remains in the air for the dynamic, philanthropic Prescott and Sarah Dunbar. A handful of pals hosted an elegant and altogether merry salute to the duo. Son Lander led the toast, which was followed by applause, and masses of bubbly and all the types of food the Dunbars so love.

Little ones are arriving, taking first steps or doing something adorable to make parents celebrate. Noelle and Davis Jahncke’s first was due, fittingly, on Christmas Day – he arrived New Year’s day. No, he’s not Davis Lee Jahncke IV; Smith Davis Jahncke suits him just fine. Westy and Francine Ballard’s little Sloane is wrapped in pink and pretty as a picture. She is in town awaiting the arriving of her newest cousin, whose parents Eleanor and Bill Walsh live in Grosse Pointe with their two other children.

Promenade’s Herbert Halpern has been in love for years with, among other things, fabrics and works on paper. He brought part of his highly regarded collection, which dates from 1900-’50, to Loyola’s Collins Diboll Gallery where it will stay until the end of March. Some 60 lithographs, aquatints, etchings, drypoints and silkscreens focus on artists such as Martin Lewis, Reginald Marsh, George Bellows, John McCrady and John Sloan, to the more obscure such as Ruth Starr Rose, Mable Dwight and Caroling Durieaux.

If that doesn’t make you a little hot under the collar, there’s the New Orleans Opera’s production of Carmen to heat things up at the Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center. Cigar rollers, bullfighters and jealousy. ¡Olé!

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Along the Avenue

Lander Dunbar toasts his parents Sarah and Prescott

Along the Avenue

Newcomb Gallery’s Teresa Parker, Herbert Halpern and Director of the Diboll Art Gallery Karoline Schleh at recent opening of his print collection exhibition at Loyola University