Before 2018 gets roaring at full tilt, let's look back at some of the highlights of 2017. Trying to pare the list down to 10 events is no easy task, especially because several organizations had special anniversary celebrations. For instance, the YMCA of the Capital Area celebrated its 100th anniversary with an elegant evening last March. It doubled as a swan song for retiring CEO Bob Jacobs, who ably led the organization for 20 years.
Also celebrating its 100th anniversary was the American Red Cross Louisiana Region. Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards teamed up with Lt. Gov. Billy and Cher Nungesser to host the May 18 gala at the LSU Stadium Club.
The Junior League of Baton Rouge held an old-fashioned variety show in March to celebrate its 85th anniversary of service to Baton Rouge; the following month Altrusa International of Baton Rouge Inc. celebrated 75 years of "achieving as a group what individuals cannot do alone."
Now, for that Top 10 list …
1. Aioli Dinner
In late April, Gwen and Todd Graves threw open the gates to their magnificent backyard with its showstopper tree house to host the Capital City's second Aioli Dinner benefiting the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts' Louisiana A+ Schools. They invited 160 friends for a fabulous dinner re-creating the late artist George Rodrigue's first painting to include people. Before dinner, Todd said he was confident the night's live auction was going to raise $50,000. It raised almost $70,000!
2. City Club's 60th
A red carpet complete with paparazzi welcomed guests to the City Club's 60th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 16, which also celebrated the club's just-completed stunning renovation. Champagne and other libations flowed along with some of the best hors d’oeuvres I've had in a while served on tables adorned with breathtaking all-white floral arrangements by Rickey Heroman's Florist. A Roman numeral LX ice sculpture centered the main table. From its founding as a men's club, the City Club has come a long way. Today's members are a cross-section of the community, and some 300 of them turned out for the celebration.
3. Of Moving Color's 30th
Of Moving Colors hosted "An Evening in Vintage Havana" at the home of David Manship to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Several hundred guests, many attired in island-inspired garb like Cuban fruit headdresses and Guayabera shirts, mingled poolside, where mojitos and hand-rolled cigars were being served up, and, inside, chef Don Bergeron put out a Cuban-inspired repast that featured a scrumptious paella.
4. Best Dressed's 50th
From the moment guests entered the Raising Cane's River Center Exhibition Hall on Aug. 19, everyone knew the Best Dressed 50th Anniversary Ball was going to be an evening to remember, and it was. The whole night had a glitzy Hollywood feel to it, and folks were still talking about it weeks later. In fact, the ball, which raised an astounding $906,000 for the American Cancer Society, was ranked as one of the society's Top 10 fundraisers nationwide!
5. Turner-Fischer party
Two of the Capital City's most gracious hosts are John Turner and Jerry Fischer, so I was thrilled to attend their fabulous Christmas open house. The guest list was a delightful mix of ages and interests, making for lively, interesting conversations. We were all welcomed into the home by servers with flutes of bubbly on silver trays and an ensemble of carolers singing holiday favorites. In the living room, Louis Wendt tickled the ivories for additional holiday ambience. While there was delicious food in the dining room and kitchen, one of the most popular spots was the garage, where grilled foie gras, oyster stew and cracked lobster tail were being served.
6. Great Performers
Breathtaking, goose-bump inducing, funny, spiritual — that's how I'd describe Kristin Chenoweth's performance with the Baton Rouge Symphony in March. The concert was part of the orchestra's Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation Great Performers series, and the evening started off with a lovely VIP black-tie reception at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum hosted by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry and Price LeBlanc Lexus. Chenoweth enlisted 12 voice students from LSU as background singers for "On This Rock," which brought the audience to its feet. "I should have known LSU and Jesus would steal the show," quipped the 4-foot-11-inch star.
7. RED Gala
The Louisiana Art & Science Museum painted the town RED for its 32nd annual gala Sept. 22. The theme covered both LASM's current exhibit, "The Red that Colored the World," and Baton Rouge's bicentennial celebration. If you had a red dress in your closet, you wore it that night. Many of the gentlemen added a red bow tie to their tuxes for the perfect pop of color. It made for a very chic crowd.
8. Fur Ball
The dogs reigned at the Companion Animal Alliance's sixth annual Fur Ball on April 22. This year's committee transformed one of the sound stages at Celtic Media into a posh setting where guests could show off their furry babies in style. The night's finale was the presentation of the royal court and the crowning of the ball's king and queen. On hand was Louisiana first dog, Lady, accompanied by her owners, Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards.
9. Mansion Homecoming
I'm not sure who was having the most fun when first lady Donna Edwards and Gov. John Bel Edwards rolled out the welcome mat to the Governor's Mansion for a November homecoming celebration for former Govs. Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, Mike Foster, Kathleen Blanco and Bobby Jindal and their families as well as the families of the late Gov. Jimmie Davis, the late Gov. John McKeithen and the late Gov. Dave Treen. It was one special reunion, with all the hugs, kisses and smiles you'd imagine! Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne had everyone laughing with his "Why Louisiana Ain't Mississippi" spiel.
10. Emerge Into Paradise
You can always count on the Emerge Center for fun every year at its signature fundraiser. Last May, it was a Bee Gees tribute band, Stayin' Alive. Before the band took us down memory lane, guests noshed on roasted pig and other luau fare — the perfect fuel for the Disco dancing that followed.