Not so long ago, New Orleanians didn’t have to travel very far for a beach day; Pontchartrain Beach was right in our backyard, with amusements for the entire family.

Though the Zephyr rollercoaster is no more than a fond memory at present, the dedicated folks at the Lake Pontchartrain Foundation keep its memory alive, and also work diligently to preserve the lake and coast. This year they held their 20th annual Back to the Beach Patron Party, with 300 “beach wear”-clad patrons in attendance.

The Lakeway Two Mezzanine was the venue of choice for the Saturday, June 20 soiree, and New Orleans Marriott Metairie Chef Steve Melinger served up scrumptious “carnival” fare – with an elegant twist – in keeping with the theme: Cotton candy, gourmet cogs, fresh popcorn with smoked paprika and mini Kobe sliders with Cajun aoli all satisfied hungry guests. Bobby Cure and the Summertime Blues were the entertainment du jour, amusing the likes of Patron Party Auction Chair Marilyn Misgrove and Festival Chairs Jeff Bordelon, Susan and Joey Englert, Peggy and Tommy Loehn, Jan Wolf and Judy Wolf. Up for grabs during the silent auction were fine art, cultural excursions, restaurant packages and hotel gift certificates. A slide show highlighting the past 20 years of the festival played throughout the night, and volunteers who’ve served for five years or more received awards.