The past social season in review
Wait! Did another social year just go whizzing past us? My, how time flies when we’re having fun and improving our community. As I prepared to write this article, I smiled as the images of all the beautiful and clever parties over the past year floated back to me. New Orleans’ magical parties create those “awwww” moments from the time you enter until you leave. Our social season runs from June to May, so let’s look at this past year’s busy social season …
Hot and steamy summer kicked off the season with the “Heart & Soul Gala” benefiting the American Heart Association at Generations Hall. The theme was “The Teaching Garden,” and guests were introduced to the organization’s teaching garden programs in New Orleans. The AHA provides CPR training and certification, funds research and places defibrillators. Currently AHA is cleverly including a holistic long-term approach by teaching kids about gardening and healthy eating early in their lives. One of New Orleanians’ favorite nutritionists, Molly Kimball, participated in the event as did long-term AHA supporter Donna Klein; Dr. Robert Matheney and Mike Maenza chaired.
Next up was “Juleps in June” benefiting The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, which has partnered with One Book One New Orleans and the society’s 2016 Big READ to focus on teenagers at risk for illiteracy. Preservationist Andrea and Attorney David Bland hosted the party at their gorgeously renovated home with its fabulous garden. (Junior League’s Garden Club also held their April meeting at the Blands’.) Part of a long-term tradition, mint juleps were served in silver cups and guests enjoyed food and flowers by Glenn Vatshell, chef and owner of Palate New Orleans.
The National World War II Museum hosted a festive party to raise money to continue its major expansion. I remember fondly the opening of the D-Day Museum, its inaugural parade and the many WWII vets who came to New Orleans to celebrate the occasion. Now renamed The National World War II Museum, it’s the most visited museum in the city and No. 13 nationally. You could plan an entire week there and still have more to see and experience.
Ending the summer season was Whitney Bank’s White Linen Night benefitting the Contemporary Arts Center. The highlight of the evening is that all the galleries in the Warehouse District are open and most serve libations and nibbles. Patrons break out their best white linen to support the arts and the neighborhood.
For many parents, summer camps are a key to summer sanity. Many of our wonderful nonprofits and schools sponsor great camps for our kids to expand their learning experiences. Art oriented camps are available from Newman School, Academy of the Sacred Heart, The Louise S. McGehee School, Country Day Le Camp, St. Martin’s, St. Mary’s Dominican, Ursuline and nonprofits such as New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana Children’s Museum, Ogden Museum, City Park and many others.
We then fell into fall with multiple events.
Lighthouse Louisiana hosted its annual event chaired by Jim Perrier, Jane Heidingsfelder, Anne Villere and Jim Ashbee. Joel Catering donated an amazingly tasty evening and Joel Dondis’ dessert company, Sucré, provided its famous mouth-watering macaroons. Other favorite New Orleans restaurants provided tasty treats as well. The auction was highly successful featuring artwork, chef dinners, jewelry and more.
In the legal world, things can move fast with court dates, filing deadlines and client depositions, but there’s great group of lawyers who take time out of their busy lives to donate time to help the less fortunate: The Pro Bono Project. In September, the group held its annual gala at the Audubon Tea Room. Honorary Co-Chairs were Gary Solomon Jr. and Seth Bloom Esq. Solomon has left his mark on many high-profile projects including lighting the Superdome – a favorite as one drives on I-10 at night! To add to the high caliber, Jan Hayden served as Committee Chair, John Casbon as Celebrity Auctioneer and Mark Romig as Emcee – what an A-list line-up!
If you ever want to feel the love, then you must attend NOMA’s annual “LOVE in the Garden” event in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. This year’s Chairs, Jennifer and Fred Heebe, Penny and Al Baumer and Shelby Sanderford, created a magical evening. The event honored local artists: Elenora Rukiya Brown, Skylar Fein, Gene Koss, Ashley Longshore, Alexa Pulitzer and Josephine Sacabo. With LOVE in the air, wonderful artists and 1,600 of the who’s who list of New Orleans, this event was one to remember!
Throughout the fall there are many neighborhood groups which raise money to help support their area’s special needs. These include the Garden District Association which celebrated its 30th annual “Fall Affair” at Commander’s Palace, and the Country Club Garden Association which hosted an annual fall party on Fairway Drive.
Many other groups find ways to support and protect their neighborhoods. In that vein, the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation held its annual “Stake Out for Justice” event Chaired by Steve Kupperman. Sheraton New Orleans Hotel hosted the event supported by Board Member and Sheraton GM, Jim Cook. Greg Rusovich was introduced as the Chairman Elect. Thank you NOPD for protecting us and good luck in recruiting more police.
LEFT NOMA’s annual “LOVE in the Garden” RIGHT Most Dancing: New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s “Azúcar Ball” – ongoing favorite to get your dancing shoes moving
Anyone who lives in New Orleans knows and loves our local restaurants. The “Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award Gala” benefiting the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience honored Ralph Brennan, President of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. Cameron Perry served as Event Chair and chef Ruth Varisco spoke about her work at Nunez Community College. With tasty food, plentiful drinks, beautiful space at the Ritz-Carlton and hospitality industry leaders in full force, the evening was a unique experience.
“O What A Night” benefiting the Ogden Museum of Southern Art hosted a festive dinner and auction. This past fall The Opus Award Honoree was Trustee Emerita Fran Villere. Gala Chairmen were Tracy Copeland and Tommy Westervelt – people who can always take a party to new levels and then some! Tommy and Dathel Coleman were gracious Patron Party hosts at their Audubon Place home.
NOMA’s 50th “Odyssey” was Chaired by Susu and Andrew Stall, and as patrons entered the museum, they experienced a Z Event-created “awwww” moment with balloons that seemed to be falling from the ceiling. Then Timothee Lovelock of Lovelock Entertainment not only held court during the main party but then was in the courtyard and kept the party hopping until late night with all his energy. Making the evening truly special was the museum’s fantastic exhibition “Seeing Nature: Landscapes Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.” A bonus was a retrospective of the work of George Dunbar, a favorite New Orleans artist who helped to bring abstract art to the South. Leading up to the event, there were several events to celebrate the 50th: a kickoff party underwritten by the Hyatt; a party for the Young Fellows hosted by Susu and Andrew Stall; a luncheon at the August NVC meeting honoring all past “Odyssey” chairs and Chaired by Toni Feinman, Jerri Cullinan and Jean Taylor; and then an out-of-the-box Patron Party hosted by the Drs. Jolly at their Audubon Place home.
Now we turn to our warm New Orleans-style winter.
St. Charles Avenue magazine is always very proud to present our Activists of the Year, and this year’s event, honoring Alan Philipson, Beverly Matheny, Frank and Paulette Stewart, Mary Ann Valentino and Peggy Laborde, was no exception. After studying their bios, New Orleanians can feel confident that our city is in good hands with dedicated leaders who truly care. Thank you to our Activists and IberiaBank for hosting the annual event introducing and honoring the Activists.
If you love to dance, the “Azúcar Ball,” which benefits the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation, is for you. The black-tie annual event honored New Orleans own Arnold Donald, CEO of the Carnival Corporation. Donald is a St. Augustine graduate. Interestingly, the Rex organization recently celebrated 60 years of parading with St. Augustine’s famous marching band. New Orleanians love our traditions!
LEFT Most Impactful: Eden House’s “Evening in the Garden of Eden” Most Champions: Ochsner Cancer Institute’s “Moonlight & Miracles Gala” RIGHT Most Champions: Ochsner Cancer Institute’s “Moonlight& Miracles Gala” BOTTOM Most Wine: Hermann Grima + Gallier Historic Houses “Amazing Grapes Wine Tasting and Auction for Education” – multi-year winner because it’s just that fine with wine
Debutante parties filled the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. The creative themes, tasty food, beautiful dresses, amazing high energy bands, proud parents and grandparents and the long-loved traditions allow guests to yearn for the next party. No matter how beautiful the girls or their parties, the core of the season is the girls’ enthusiasm as not only a time to bond with old and new friends but as an exciting rite of life’s passage. Although the season primarily focuses on the young ladies, one must not forget our dutiful Kings and Pages. Yes, men and sons, you have an important role in these majestic presentations and your participation is most appreciated. As many of you are masked in secrecy, the guessing game of who you are enhances the fun.
As many of us were sad to see the end of “Downton Abbey,” WYES via PBS was able to produce another winner in “Victoria.” To celebrate the new series, WYES had a Victorian themed party Chaired by Russ and Sandra Herman and Jean Rice at the beautiful Opera Guild House. Six different garden clubs and florists provided floral arrangements to emphasize an important tradition of “Victorian Floral Codes.”
Then it was time for spring.
One of our favorites is NOMA’s and The Garden Study Club’s “Art in Bloom” presented by IberiaBank. The two-day event kicked off with a Patron Party, which gave the ladies a chance to showcase their new floral dresses. The next day there were two presentations from James Farmer, lifestyle expert, and Laura Dowling, former White House Chief Florist. Both speakers are authors and signed books for the guests. A luncheon was followed with a Saks Fifth Avenue style show. The museum was transformed with a wide range of flowers and plants displayed to support the party’s theme, interpret a painting or to exhibit a tablescape. Beyond “Art in Bloom,” the museum always has stunning floral arrangements in the urns in the Great Hall.
WYES celebrated its 60th year with a 1960s-themed gala Chaired by Bill and Mary Hines, Hunter and Kaylea Hill and C.C. and Billy Langenstein. Windsor Court Catering was the caterer and Solomon Group provided the festive lighting. As you entered the party, ladies in British flagged outfits provided the guests’ first drinks. To add an extra layer of fun, go-go dancers danced on pedestals to get the crowd going. Once guests got their groove on, they could refuel at the fondue station – Windsor Court-style of course! (Edit note: This event was held in the author, Dana Hansel, and her husband’s fabulous home!)
Most Stunning: NOMA’s “50th Odyssey Ball” RIGHT Most Organic: Edible Schoolyard NewOrleans’ seventh annual “An Edible Evening”
Did you realize how many ways there are to cook a pig? If you ever want to expand your “pig options,” then “Hogs for the Cause” is for you. The many groups who do, mainly composed of young men, lose sleep trying to prepare the perfect pig meal. But it’s the fundraising that makes the event a winner. In fact, the organization recently pledged $2.1 million for Hogs House, a place to stay for families of children undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital. The 8,500-square-foot Hogs House will provide 10 to 14 family suites, two family lounges, kitchen spaces and laundry facilities overlooking the State Street grounds. Now that’s impressive cookin’ for a children’s cause!
Adding to the busy spring season are plenty of school fundraisers, festivals, multiple runs for various causes and parties “just because.” In New Orleans, there’s something available for anyone who wants to socialize with old friends or make new ones.
The Most List
Most Active: Gambit’s “Reds, Whites and the Blues”
Most Artsy: “Cocktails for KID SmART”
Most Beautiful: Friends of Jefferson the Beautiful “April in Paris” – multi-year winner because of the constant beautification of Jefferson Parish
Most Beer: Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s “Boudin, Bourbon & Beer”
Most Business-like: Junior Achievement’s “Business Hall of Fame”
Most Charming: Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s “Sippin’ in Seersucker” – multi-year winner because those seersucker suits are adorable
Most Champions: Ochsner Cancer Institute’s “Moonlight & Miracles Gala”
Most Creative: Women’s Guild of New Orleans Opera Association’s “Mad Hatter’s Luncheon and Fashion Show”
Most Dancing: New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s “Azúcar Ball” – ongoing favorite to get your dancing shoes moving
Most Dramatic: Le Petit Théâtre’s “Curtain Call Ball”
Most Enchanting: Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Opus Ball” presented “A Tribute to Louis Prima”
Most Exciting: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s inaugural “Man/Woman of the Year Campaign” Kickoff Event – very new event
Most Fashionable: LPO Volunteers’ Encore Shop’s “Fall into Fashion” – this year celebrated the 10th year anniversary
Most Festive: New Orleans Opera Association’s Junior Committee’s “Big Wig Ball”
Most Glam: Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization’s “When the Stars Align: Stars of the American Ballet Meet Stars of New Orleans Cuisine and Philanthropy”
Most Glassy: “Just Say YAYA”
Most Fruitful: Louisiana Appleseed’s eighth annual “Good Apple Gala”
Most Heartfelt Golfing: “HeartGift Heroes Golf Tournament” – to add to your heartstrings, artist Thomas Mann is putting art where his heart is by unveiling the Heartfelt Louisiana Collection and donating half of all proceeds to HeartGift
Most Horses: Junior League of Greater Covington’s “Harvest Cup Polo Classic”
Most Hip 40-Year-Old: Contemporary Arts Center’s “SweetArts”
Most Historical: A Tie! Beauregard-Keyes Historic House and Garden’s “Sunset Garden Gala” and Vieux Carré Commission Foundation’s “Spirit of the Vieux Carré Gala”
Most Humanitarian: Anti-Defamation League’s annual “A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award Dinner”
Most Impactful: Eden House’s “Evening in the Garden of Eden”
Most Jazzy: The Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp and the New Orleans Arts and Cultural Committee awarded the 2016 Louis Armstrong Jazz Pioneer Award to Deacon John Moore
Most Kid-Friendly: Audubon Institute’s “Zoo-To-Do for Kids” Presented by Tulane Pediatrics
Most Literate: Start The Adventure in Reading’s “STAIR Affair 2016 – Treasure Island”
Most Lively: The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s “Stella!/Stanley! Shouting Contest”
Most Mojitos: Louisiana Museum Foundation’s “Mojitos at the Mint”
Most Musical: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.’s “Jazz & Heritage Gala”
Most Organic: Edible Schoolyard New Orleans’ seventh annual “An Edible Evening”
Most Paddles: New Orleans Botanical Garden in New Orleans City Park’s inaugural “Response – Artists in the Park”
Most Patriotic: St. Charles Avenue magazine’s “Wine, Dine & Design Tablsecapes Patron Party & Luncheon” benefiting Bastion & Bastion’s “Building Bastion” inaugural event
Most Royal: Bridge House / Grace House’s Cochon Cotillion 20”
Most Soulful: Legacy Donor Foundation’s “Soul Revival”
Most Stunning: NOMA’s “50th Odyssey Ball”
Most Stylish: Woman of Fashion & Men of Fashion’s 45th annual “Prix d’Elegance Luncheon & Fashion Show”
Most Tasty: Second Harvest Food Bank’s “Harvest at Home”
Most Visionary: Louisiana Children’s Museum’s “CHAIRish the Children” – we’re all excited to see their new location in City Park
Most Wine: Hermann Grima + Gallier Historic Houses “Amazing Grapes Wine Tasting and Auction for Education” – multi-year winner because it’s just that fine with wine