Promising not to be “yet another stuffy black tie affair,” the American Heart Association lived up to their promise with the rollicking good time had by all at the 2009 Heart and Soul Gala. Presented by People’s Health, revelers gathered at the Omni Royal Orleans on Thursday, May 28 for lively tunes from Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, One Accord Gospel Choir, Marva Wright and Kirk Joseph with the 504 Brass Band. The night paid tribute to Merv Trail, a longtime New Orleans resident, doctor, LSU Chancellor and philanthropist. Roger Ogden served as chairperson for the event, whose committee also included Debbie Alciatore, Pat Denechaud, Margo DuBos, Craig Guidry, Janet Koppel and Doug Thorton among many others.  Shrimp cocktail, beef tenderloin with mushroom bordelaise and Panna Cotta with strawberry coulie was on the menu for the more than 300 guests. Auction items upped the ante with packages to posh hotels, unique art, fabulous dinners and beautiful jewelry. A patron party took place prior to the big night, on May 16 at Tipitina’s, with a benefit concert downstairs that had music from Dr. Funk and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. In total, the Heart and Soul Gala raised an estimated $287,000 for the AHA, funds which will go to research in preventing heart disease and stroke, as well as educational programs promoting healthy lifestyles.