Tomorrow’s the day we celebrate our freedom. Downtown will be hopping with all manner of events, wrapping up with Fireworks on the Mississippi. If you want to get a jump on all the fun, grab the kids and come over to my neighborhood tonight at 6:30 for the Kenwilworth Fourth of July Parade. You’ll have fun, I promise.

Red, White & Blue

In preparation for celebrating the Fourth, the LSU Museum of Art revamped its fundraising celebration into a preview party, which took place June 25. It was spread over three floors of the Shaw Center for the Arts, where the museum is located, and included a fab silent auction, rum samples, offerings from local restaurants and caterers and dancing on the rooftop to the sounds of 99,000 AD. Party-goers also got to check out the museum’s latest exhibit, “Hunt Slonem: Antebellum Pop!”

Helping to make the evening a success were Capital City Grill, Chef John Folse & Co., Donnier-Peltier Distillers, Heirloom Cuisine, Jolie Pearl, Manda Fine Meats, Mockler Beverage Co., Mr. Margarita and Old New Orleans Rum.

To see who all was partying, check out more photos online at

‘Art of Inclusion’

Lighthouse Louisiana celebrated five years of creating opportunities for the blind, deaf and those with other disabilities June 24 at the “Art of Inclusion” at the Baton Rouge Gallery. Not only did attendees get to experience the art of artist members Judi Betts, Malaika Favorite, April Hammock and Michael w. Howes as they sipped their favorite libations, they also knoshed on the culinary delicacies prepared by caterer Kim Smith, who herself is blind, swayed to the sounds of the Michael Foster Project and participated in several hands-on activities.

My favorite part was getting to visit with advisory board Chairman James Slaton and wife Nikki, a former co-worker of mine years ago, and with Boo Thomas and board member David Beach and wife Emily. I also enjoyed getting to meet Lighthouse Louisiana President Renée Vidrine and board member Brent Cobb, as well as reconnecting with staff member Beau Ellerbee, who helped me navigate dinner at the organization’s first Dining in the Dark event a couple of years ago.

Cocktails at Sunset

A breeze and ceiling fans made Cocktails at Sunset, hosted by The Advocate and L’Auberge Casino & Hotel on June 23, tolerable for those who came out for the rooftop pool party. Stations were set up poolside offering samples of the six finalists in The Advocate’s cocktail competition, allowing guests to vote on their favorite concoctions. Nibbles were also passed around.

When all the votes were tallied, including those cast by voters sampling the flight at L’Auberge’s Stadium Club Sports Bar & Grill earlier in the week, Sandra “Sandy” Ruffino’s tequila-based Sweet & Spicy Sunset was declared the winner. Jack Summerell’s Salty Chichuhua, his version of a margarita, came in second. Third place went to Susanne Duplantis’ vodka-based Screwball. You can find recipes for these and the other finalists online at

Mother-Son Dance

Stop No. 2 was the Renaissance, which was literally hopping for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s debut Mother-Son Dance. I mean, what do you expect when you have a ballroom packed with little boys, balloon swords, characters like Spider Man and loud, high-energy music? They were having a blast — some of them even dancing with mom at some point during the evening.

Organizers Jill Henry and Jeanne McCollister McNeill, along with JDRF Executive Director Abby Hamilton were rightfully sporting big smiles at the event’s success — a sold-out crowd of 400 having a memorable time for a great cause.

Gold Award

On Thursday I joined Girl Scouts Louisiana East at the Governor’s Mansion for its annual Gold Award pinning ceremony. Popping in to offer her congratulations was Louisiana first lady Donna Edwards, herself a former Girl Scout. Also offering their congratulations were Joan Mollohan, chairwoman of the Girls Scouts Louisiana East board; featured speaker Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Widner, Middleton Chapter of the Military Order of World Wars; and Kevin Shipp, director of GSLE’s STEM & High Awards Program.

Receiving Gold Awards for their “Take Action” projects, the highest bestowed by the organization, were Girl Scouts Brianna Anderson, of Norco, Heath & Fitness Expo; Victoria Murphy, of Franklinton, Bullying Awareness; Allison Smith, of Geismar, Backpacks for Breanna; and Sarah Taylor, of Bush, inspiring Healthy Lifestyles.

Epicurean Society

A little over a week ago, the chefs who’ll be preparing the seven-course dinner for the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society’s Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement dinner kicking off Fête Rouge got together with this year’s honoree, Holly Clegg, to discuss the menu. Always gracious, Holly’s only instruction was to create whatever dish would allow them to shine. However, as she’s the spokeswoman for the Louisiana Crawfish Association, I fully expect one of the chefs to incorporate mudbugs into his creation. Each course is accompanied by a carefully selected fine wine.

Under the leadership of Beausoleil chef Nathan Gresham, this year’s dinner will be prepared by chefs Joey Dicapo, Houmas House; Jeremy Langlois, Ruffino’s; Gabby Loubiere, Brew Ha-Ha; Kelley McCann; Jared Tees,18 Steak; and William Wells, Culinary Productions.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.