Each of us can relate to one or more of the following roles in our lives: Community Activist, Philanthropist, Volunteer, Donor, Participant, Grantee, Grantor, Patron, Attendee, Co-Chair, Ambassador or Committee Member. It takes all types to participate in the New Orleans social season and many of us wear multiple hats. The 2018-2019 social season has ended but as usual, many are already working on next season’s events. Lots of planning is required for each of the fundraisers that we enjoy in our community. Let us review some highlights from May 2018-May 2019 starting with …
Summer In the City:
If you’ve been to City Park lately you cannot miss the LEED-certified building that will house the new and expanded Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM). This past August LCM hosted its 20th annual “CHAIRish the Children” gala as everyone said goodbye to its Julia Street location. The Founding Board Members who helped start LCM 32 years ago were honored. It was a bittersweet evening with lots to celebrate!
Sold out – a label all fundraisers seek to achieve – was the “Summer Cure Chefs Wine Dinner,” benefiting Susan G. Komen New Orleans, an organization whose mission is to reduce breast cancer deaths. Hosted by the Windsor Court, guests enjoyed a five-course meal and wine pairings. Featured chefs included: Kelly Fields of Willa Jean, Nina Compton of Compere Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and Toups South and many more. Auctioneers Greg Reggio and Jeff Crouere created an exciting live auction.
Some events encompass an entire weekend, as did the “2018 New Orleans Antiques Forum” benefitting The Historical New Orleans Collection in early August. Professionals from around the country and across a range of specialties were panelists for a three-day event that included a champagne reception. A lavish food spread, cocktails and New Orleans jazz musicians were the perfect combo that created a unique New Orleans experience focused on both preservation and education.
Our Usual Busy Fall:
“Light up the Night” benefiting Lighthouse Louisiana was held at the famous Grace-Montgomery mansion. We all take a breath at hearing this beautiful mansion’s name, recalling the devastation from the recent fire. As always, the Grace and Montgomery families graciously opened their home to aid good causes in this instance the important work that Lighthouse Louisiana does for our community. The party had over 422 attendees who enjoyed dancing, cocktails and both live and silent auctions, and all will have a special memory of that great house.
“Magic in the Moonlight,” hosted by the Botanical Garden Foundation, accurately depicts this unique dinner under the majestic oaks in City Park. Cocktails first in the Azalea/Camelia garden, then dinner under the oaks and twinkling lights strung throughout the trees. Chef Greg Sonnier of Gabrielle and Joel’s Catering prepared exquisite cuisine. There was also acMoonlighters dinner for patrons under 40. Food for the Moonlighters was provided by Chef John Sinclair of Longway Tavern, chef John Bel of Meauxbar, Chef Ben McCauley of Sylvain and Chef Nathan Richard of Cavan – quite a tasty spread! Proceeds from the dinners support the outdoor Teaching Kitchen scheduled to open fall 2019 in the Botanical Garden.
A group dedicated to our preserving our precious French Quarter’s invaluable historical architectural heritage, the Vieux Carré Commission Foundation launched its “The New Vieux: An Education & Engagement Program” at its “Spirit Gala.” This program is for craftsmen and caretakers who will help us carry the uniqueness of the French Quarter into the future. The VIP Sponsor Party was held at the beautiful home of Daniela and Elie Khoury in the French Quarter. Their creative combination and renovation of two adjacent homes includes a stunning courtyard, an exceptional wine cellar and fine artwork, resulting in quite a fabulous showcase. Windsor Court and Veuve Clicquot provided the food and champagne respectively.
During the social season, there are important awards honoring those who have distinguished themselves in giving back to our community. One of those prized awards is given by The Times-Picayune, recently purchased by the Advocate. The The Times-Picayune gave its treasured Loving Cup to Cleland Powell, an IberiaBank executive with a long history of community commitment. Accepting the award at Kingsley House, a place where Cleland had early experiences, Cleland humbling spoke of others, not himself. As you read through St. Charles Avneue magazine each month, Cleland has touched many of these organizations, many times behind the scenes, showing himself to be a true servant leader.
Imagine having a dream come true. Well that’s exactly what Michael Harold and Dr. Quinn Peeper were able to do when their piano talents were paired with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestrate led by Conductor Ryan McAdams. The “Rach and Bach Gala Concert” benefited the English-Speaking Union New Orleans, a group dedicated to supporting ongoing educational and cultural programs at both local and national levels. With a packed Orpheum Theater, Michael played Bach’s “Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Minor” and Quinn played Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” Adding to the evening were opera soloists Irini Hymel and Christina Comer. Patrons enjoyed a party after the concert at the Orpheum. Excellent execution, musical notes on high with our wonderful orchestra, lots of support to help ESUNO expand their cultural reach, friends from far and wide attended – truly a dream come true!
Winter Fun Awaited Us:
As a final event to the year-long Tricentennial of New Orleans, Louisiana Museum Foundation (LMF) hosted its inaugural “Founder’s Ball.” The concept of the ball was to honor those who contributed in early historical times to make New Orleans history and culture. The first honorees included: Charles-Edouard and Isabell, Baron and Baroness de Pontalba; Pierre de Pontalba, Marie-Victoire de Pontalba de Coulange and her husband Alberic, Count de Coulange; and the baron’s nieces, Anne-Voctoire and Sixtine Viguié-Desplaces. The art exhibit (“The Baroness de Pontalba and the Rise of Jackson Square”), patrons dressed in period costumes, period appropriate music and royal heirs in attendance created the perfect combination for a special journey back in time.
When you think about preserving what’s unique about New Orleans, most of us think of the Preservation Resource Center – a 45-year-old nonprofit. Each December, the group hosts a Home Tour and a Patron Party the Friday beforehand. CeCe and Trevor Colhoun opened their house, recently decorated by Sara Ruffin Costello. The party was presented by McEnery Residential, with flowers by Niki Epstein, music by New Orleans Banjos + 2, food by Pigéon Caterers & Events. Enthusiastic PRC supporters wearing their festive holiday best it all a made party to remember!
Another important award, the L’Chayim Award benefiting Touro Synagogue, honored long -time community activist, Joyce Pulitzer, who was the first female president of the Synagogue. Joyce’s list of activities and accomplishments is truly lengthy, but her versatility is demonstrated by being a contributing playwriter for Cherries Jubilee, a Big Easy Best New Play 1999 award winner, as well as a writer and producer of the play Life, Liberty, and Social Security. The Jacobs Social Hall and Grant Meyer Pavilion was the setting for the seated dinner provided by Joel Catering. Congrats to Joyce!
Although many debutante parties are held in summer, most occurred during winter around Christmas. The themes continue to be more and more clever including: Boots and Beads; Aspen theme (a favorite was the Manny-Quin); Swamp Chic; Tchoup Yard; Red White and Blue at the WWII Museum; a bowling party including personalized bowling shirts; Glitz at the Windsor Court on New Year’s Eve and many more. Then on Twelfth Night we officially kicked off Mardi Gras. As part of the Thelfth Night Revelers Sesquicentennial Ball, not only were this year’s debutantes honored, as the new Queen picked the golden bean, but many others “golden bean pickers” from the past were honored as well. Forty-three past queens returned, ranging in years from 1953 (Queen Ms. Edward B Benjamin Jr.) through 2018 (Queen Caroline Bailey Acomb, who returned as part of the process of passing the crown to 2019’s Queen Julia Margaret Plauché. As the Mardi Gras season progressed, there were many debutante balls with imaginative tableaus, themes, theatrical backdrops and stunning dresses worn by the Queens and debutantes, and of course by the attendees. Shiny crowns, white gloves, late-night breakfasts, photo booths and high energy bands from all across the country made it a special season. Look to Courts of Carnival presented by St. Charles Avenue so you can see the gorgeous dresses in more detail!
Time to Spring Into the Last Part of the Season:
Iconic Storyland is being renovated and this year’s “Lark in the Park” highlighted this traditional favorite spot for kids and their families. With our own Bev Church as Honorary Chair and her long history of supporting Storyland, including its last renovation 25 years ago, the party was a big hit despite the rain; in fact, people were even more enthusiastic. With food and bars everywhere along with pictures of each Storyland exhibit, patrons partied with panache.
Ready for some pork? Well, it’s plentiful and delicious at the annual “Hogs for the Cause” competition: wo full days of music, barbeque, beer and fundraising! Ninty teams competed in the following categories: Whole Hog, Ribs, Pork Butt/Shoulder, Porkpourri, Sauce, Fan Favorite and Fundraising Champion. All funds raised support pediatric brain cancer. Hogs partnered with Children’s Hospital to help with housing for families whose kids are getting treatment – very comforting in parents’ scariest times.
Do you love to travel? I definitely do, and I had quite a challenge to determine what to wear to “WYES’ Passport to the World.” But based on the numerous diverse and inspiring outfits, the party’s patrons had no problem pulling together their themed travel outfits. Bob and Sheryl Merrick opened their beautiful home to over 300 patrons who enjoyed cuisine by Windsor Court catering, music by Luv Sexy and a large silent auction that included multiple trips. As guests arrived, they were greeted by the Amelia Earhawts then onto foods and drinks from around the world including London, Spain, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Russia.
Dress for Success (DFS) turned 20 years old, and all past board members returned to help celebrate DFS’s birthday! DFS’s mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. The celebratory lunch was at the Hyatt Regency where the Client of the Year was honored, 2019 Honorary Chair and Founder of DFS New Orleans Hope Encalade spoke, Joi Gordon, the DFS’ CEO Worldwide gave the keynote speech and then the audience enjoyed an Empowerment Fashion Show. With a packed house and lots to catch up on, the lunch was lively and exciting. Happy 20th birthday DFS!
Until next season, enjoy each event; make memories and share them. Although not considered a large or a financially rich city, we’re indeed wealthier than others because of our unique and special culture and history of giving back.
Many thanks to each of you for your participating in New Orleans’ social season!
The “Most” List
Most Active: St. Charles Avenue magazine’s 23rd annual Activists of the Year
Most Artsy: “ArtVue” benefiting Longue Vue House & Gardens
Most Beautiful: 52nd annual “Odyssey Ball” benefiting New Orleans Museum of Art
Most Beer: 11th annual “Hogs for the Cause”
Most Charming: “A Night with Leah Chase” benefiting Kingsley House
Most Champion: “Son of a Saint Gala” benefiting Son of a Saint
Most Cuddly: Fifth annual “Arnaud’s Teddy Bear Drive” benefiting New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation & New Orleans Police Department
Most Dancing: 50th anniversary “Evening of Stars” benefiting New Orleans Ballet Association
Most Dramatic: “Curtain Call Ball” benefiting Le Petit Théâtre
Most Edible: 17th annual “Summer Cure Chefs Wine Dinner” benefiting Susan G Komen New Orleans
Most Elegant: Inaugural “Founders Ball” & Patron Party at the Carbines’ House benefiting the Louisiana State Museum
Most Exciting: “YEP Fest” benefiting Youth Empowerment Project
Most Fashionable: Saks Fifth Avenue “Key to the Cure” benefiting The Louisiana Cancer Research Center
Most Festive: “WYES It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” benefiting WYES
Most Floral: “Art in Bloom” benefiting the New Orleans Museum of Art
Most Glam: 38th annual “Sugarplum Ball” benefiting Children’s Hospital
Most Glassy: “Just Say YAYA 30th Anniversary Gala” benefiting YAYA
Most Green: 10th annual “Paint the Town Green” benefiting Raintree Children & Family Services
Most Hats: 2nd annual “Heart of the Park Hat Lunch” benefiting Friends of City Park & New Orleans Town Gardeners
Most Heartfelt: Red Tie Affair benefiting The John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Health System
Most Historical: “Spirit Gala” benefiting Vieux Carré Commission Foundation
Most Horses: “Harvest Cup Polo Classic” benefiting Junior League of Greater Covington
Most Holiday: “Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party” benefiting City Park
Most Humanitarian: “Hannah G. Solomon Award Luncheon” honoring Susan Hess benefiting the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section
Most Humorous: “Cochon Cotillion” benefiting Bridge House/Grace House
Most Illuminating: Magic in the Moonlight” benefiting the Botanical Garden Foundation
Most Impactful: “Alexis de Tocqueville Awards Gala” benefiting United Way of Southeast Louisiana
Most Inspiring: “Exclusive Evening at SABA” benefiting New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter
Most Jazzy: “Opus Ball: A Tribute to Fats Domino” benefiting Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Most Just: “A Night of Blue” benefiting Crimestoppers GNO
Most Literate: “Growing Partnerships with Latter Library” benefiting Latter Library
Most Love: “An Evening in the Garden of Eden” benefiting Eden House
Most Musical: 31st annual “Piano Night” benefiting WWOZ
Most Paddles: “O What A Night!” benefiting Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Most Patriotic: “Victory Ball” benefiting the National WWII Museum
Most Pink: “Celebration of Life Luncheon” benefiting Cancer Crusaders
Most Soulful: “All Saints Soirée” benefiting Save our Cemeteries
Most Stunning: St. Charles Avenue’s “Wine Dine & Design” benefiting Bastion
Most Stylish: “2018 New Orleans Antiques Forum” benefiting The Historic New Orleans Collection
Most Tasty: “A Blind Taste” for WRBH Radio for the Blind
Most Visionary: “Lark in the Park” benefiting City Park’s Storyland
Most Wine: 22nd annual “Sunday At Emeril’s” benefiting LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry