It started with Easter, rolled into Jazz Fest and by Derby Day it was a full-blown trend – suddenly men and women everywhere were decked out in hats. Huge hats, tiny fascinators, serious hats, silly hats, cool hats and hats to keep one cool.… OK, maybe that royal wedding was more of an inspiration than we want to admit. But it’s July and people are still wandering in and out of restaurants, parties and festivals wearing hats.
Some of the prettiest and most inventive turned up at the Cascade Stables in our beloved Audubon Park for a first, but certainly not last, benefit for the place so many of us first learned to walk, trot and cantor. Today, the stables are still there for youngsters, experienced competitors and Carnival parade lieutenants to practice their paces. Huge mobile television monitors were pulled in under the trees, huge silver punch bowls were filled with juleps, the stables were mucked to perfection and the tack gleamed. Lots of Uptown types, such as Bonnie Waters, Pam Lyons, Elisa Champagne and Melissa Henry milled about, attempting air kisses from under one hat to under another.
Everyone wanted to see the stable’s newest addition, Barnaby, a colt who’s still wobbly on his legs and greeted visitors under the watchful eye of mama Dolly.
A pretty julep cup, sterling (or so it seemed), decorated the elegant invite for the 86th Closing Reception of the Orleans Club. You don’t think they send out “evites” now, do you? There was music by John Parker’s Jazz Trio, the club’s new president Kathy Determan at the door and an array of food to delight the capacity crowd. Evie Poitevent, Blanche Gray, Betty Davidson, Lydia Buckley, Cindy Woessner, Libby Adams, Ann Colfry, Susan Kartzke, Cynthia Yeates and various spouses and significants all admired Ginja Moseley’s floral designs, which decorated the club on a perfectly balmy, moonlit night. What a lovely way to send so many off for the summer.
Days later, with lots of flags but nary a julep cup in sight, Brigadier General – and general all around fine fellow – Thomas Beron used the club for his retirement ceremony and celebration. After more than a quarter-century in the Army and a list of impressive military accomplishments, he recently returned from Iraq to honors justly deserved.
Lots of active and retired brass showed up in uniform as well as white linen, filling the OC’s auditorium to overflowing. The ever-eloquent General Beron choked up a bit when he thanked his bride Wendy and daughter Scout for their constant support. Just about everyone in the room blinked back a tear. Winks McCarthy, Kit and Tim Favrot, Frog and Terry White, Peter and Martha McEnery, Bill and Elise Brundige, Carolyn and Donald Abaunza, Brenda and Mo Bethea (whose son Beau just returned from 4-tours of duty in Afghanistan), and Bill Treadway all gave Tom a standing ovation.
There was less ceremony but equal ovation for chanteuse extraordinaire Karen Akers, who kicked off Memorial Day weekend with songs of Gershwin, Porter and more at Le Chat Noir. Akers, the leading lady in the Broadway production of Nine, was one of Le Chat owner Barbara Motley’s first big-name supporters. Spotted in the audience were Gay LeBreton with spouse James Farwell, brother Bret LeBreton with Rosie, Judge David Williams, composer Rich Look, Cassandra Sharpe, Bill Borah and Tommy Westervelt. And while it’s true the building which houses Le Chat is for sale, the doors close for the summer season with a bang up three-day celebration: July 7, nationally acclaimed cabaret artists return to perform; Friday, a sampler of musical theater will
be there; and Saturday there will be an end-of-season blowout with every available local performer (Ricky Graham
and Rich Look included) who cut teeth at Le Chat. Do not count Le Chat down, out or over. But as Barbara says, “Surely it will change.”
Change happens, but people hold on to their julep cups, especially in summer at the ever-popular “Juleps in June” party – the brainchild of Rosemary James and the Pirates’ Alley Faulkner Society. The salute to the steamy season took place not in the French Quarter, but once again on elegant Audubon Place. Perhaps inspired by Jimmy Walsh and his wife – a designing milliner – neighbors Tia and James Roddy threw open their doors to the literary set and its fans. There was talk of books to take on vacation or off to summer homes, inspired food by Palate and authors Debra Shriver (Stealing Magnolias) and Robert Hicks (Widow of the South) danced with party chairs Jeanie Clinton, Michael Harold and Dr. Quinn Peeper to Alexandra Scott and the DeSoto Street Band.
I love that party.