Last week was a busy one, so let's get right to the fun.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room when Susan G. Komen Baton Rouge honored Donna Britt at its Perfectly Pink Luncheon for Life Oct. 8 at the L'Auberge Event Center. Years after successfully battling breast cancer, the beloved veteran WAFB news anchor is now in the fight of her life against the progressive neurodegenerative disease commonly known as ALS. She received the organization's Passion of Peggy Award from Tricia Grant Hollis.
The luncheon featured two speakers — best-selling cookbook author and Advocate EatPlayLive food columnist Holly Clegg, who shared recipes from her "Too Hot in the Kitchen" cookbook along with cancer-treatment friendly foods; and Komen Scholar Dr. Abenaa Brewster, a medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center's Nellie B. Connally Breast Center investigating clinical, epidemiological and biological factors that determine breast cancer risk and survival.
Komen Executive Director Angela Miller was joined by emcees Elizabeth Vowell and Jay Grymes, both from WAFB, in the breast cancer survivor countdown. A group of survivors had a special moment in the spotlight modeling fashions from Dillard's. They included Juanita Alexander, Lynette Diez, Kara Domingue, Cathy Duncan, Gwen Green, Tara Harris, Robin Hart, Tracey Haynes, Tolair Jones, Candis Joseph, Lauren LeBlanc, Lisa Ordes, Danielle de Tarnowsky, Erica Walker and Bonnie Wells.
Serving on the luncheon committee were Helen Ayers, Kayla Brooks, Candra Burges, Sara Doucet, Chrislyn Maher, Rebecca Marsolan, Luke Morris, Letha Pfister, Tyrah Phillips, Julia Stanton and Diana Zachary.
I was at L'Auberge the night before for Consortium 10/31's Ghostly Gala, which kicked off its month-long Fifolet Halloween Festival. Reigning over the fun were Queen Judy Gonzales and King Mark Bounds, along with Count Nick Stein and parade Grand Marshal Patrick Mulhearn.
By the time I got there, three Lone Sharks were rocking the dance floor and Cirque du Soleil-style performers from GymFit were entertaining guests. In fact, the "Beauty & the Beast" routine was absolutely breathtaking and brought down the house.
Taking over the band was DJ MikeLarry, who kept things hopping leading up to and after the awards presentation. And the winners were: Scariest Costume, Victoria and Pat LeBlanc's Shower Scene; Funniest, Lorin and James Avault's Shark & Shark-bite Victim; Best Theme, The Boo-ffants, Susan Burdette and Tina Mancuso; Sexiest, Bridgett Kavos' The Bandit; Most Creative, Tanya Ruffin's Voodoo Doll; and Best Table, Julie Arinder, daughter Alexa and friends. Check out all the photos at theadvocate.com.
Jessica Newsom chaired this year's gala. Rounding out the committee were Bambi Pizzolato, Meredith Beck-Wiggins, Jessica Bollinger, Lauren Collins, Bridgit Didier, David Gabel, Angela Gauthier, Amber King, Diane Lee, Tanya Ruffin, Larry Scrubbs, Kelley Stein and Gonzales.
The busy weekend began with the Women's Council of Greater Baton Rouge's Women's Week Kickoff Luncheon at the Marriott. Welcoming the several hundred women — and a few brave men — to the event was event Chairwoman Monique Moliere Piper. Greetings were also extended by council President Paula M. Braxton, who recognized special guests Mayor Sharon Weston Broome; Metro Council members Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green and Tara Wicker; and Louisiana first lady Donna Edwards, who was the featured speaker.
Edwards pointed out that recounting the history of Baton Rouge would not be complete if you didn't talk about the roles women have played in its 200 years. "What's that saying by Margaret Thatcher," said Edwards with a chuckle. "If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman."
She went on to briefly share the stories of several women who played important roles in the history of Baton Rouge including Broome, Mary Frey Eaton, Dolores Richard Spikes, Sarah Morgan and Pearl George.
Braxton also recognized this year's Silver Magnolias, women 70 and older honored for their community service. The honorees included Ruth Addison, Roberta A. Guillory, Chris Richardson, Natalie Roumain and Willie "B" Eddard, who was also celebrating her 87th birthday. And, since the floods canceled last year's luncheon, also recognized were 2016 honorees — Rebecca Cureau, Sue Dillion, Marjorie Green, Sue Hillard, JiJi Jonas, Sharon Richard, Trish Sedlin, Eleanor Torrer and the late Willie Honeywood Smith.
Co-worker Sterling Rabalais led a downsized chorus of the Sweet Adelines known as the "Chop Sticks" in entertaining the luncheon crowd. It was fun seeing several buddies — Jan Daly, Annette Douthat, Gloria Jones and Kristina Shapiro.
Brew at the Zoo
The evening began out at BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo with a crowd of 2,000 beer and animal lovers. It was the fourth year in a row that this fundraiser has sold out and Director Phil Frost was ecstatic. So were co-chairmen Franz Borghardt and Heather Kleinpeter.
The night featured some 200 beers for sampling courtesy of Mockler Beverage Co., Crescent Crown, LA Homebrew, Redstick Brewmasters, Bicycle Brew Club and Brasseurs a la Maison. On the food side came great dishes from BRQ Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Catering, Flamingo Café, Mason's Grill, Ninja Sno-balls, Pete's Lagniappe Catering, Raising Cane's, River Center, Stadium Sports Bar & Grill, The Overpass Merchant and Your Mom's Restaurant & Bar.
Cat Tails & Cocktails
Stop No. 2 was The Guru, located at Circa 1857, for Cat Haven's 16th annual Cat Tails & Cocktails fundraiser. The event included the specialty "Alleycat" cocktail, live music by Joshua Magee, Party Portraits photobooth and a silent auction that included two George Rodrigue prints. Did he paint blue kitties as well as dogs?
While this was a quick stop, I did get to chat with friends Ann and Rob Guercio, Kelly and Enrique Hurtado, Kathy Baker, Jeff Stafford, Wendy Decker and Meredith Penick before heading to downtown proper.
Under the Stars
Quiana Lynell and band were serenading anyone and everyone near the Capitol Park Museum thanks to its debut Picnic Under the Stars — stop No. 3 on the night of Oct. 6. Attendees could bring their own food or choose from picnic baskets assembled by Blend, Magpie Café, Indie Plate, Bergeron's City Market or Heirloom Cuisine. Then they consulted with Blend's head sommelier Scott Higgins to select the perfect wine or cocktail to accompany their food. All that was left was to find a spot with friends at a table set out among the live oaks and enjoy the full moon, great R&B sounds and friends old and new.
Lucky for me, Karen and Bill Profita, Helen Graf and Christen Losey-Gregg shared their goodies and invited me to sit a spell and enjoy the night. I also got to visit with Heather Day, Fairleigh Jackson and Nedra and John Haynes. It was magical.
Gala on the Bluff
My last stop was the Belle of Baton Rouge Capital Atrium where the Southern University College of Business was holding it 15th annual Gala on the Bluff, a lovely evening that raises funds for scholarships for students attending the college. I got there just in time to see Dean Donald Andrews surprise William Tucker with an award of special recognition for his continuing support of the college.
Also honored at the gala were William Pickard, chairman of GAA Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management, co-managing partner MGM Grand Detroit Casino, CEO Bearwood Management Co. and co-owner of five black-owned newspapers; Patrick Bell, assistant commissioner for diversity and opportunity at the Louisiana Department of Insurance; and Southern University's 1959 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics baseball championship team.
Serving as co-chairmen of the sponsorship committee were Agnes Anders, Bridgette Webster Wade and Blaine Grimes. Lori Honoré chaired the silent auction/raffle committee and Marilyn Doherty chaired the volunteer committee.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Southern event without great music. That was provided by the Michael Foster Project, Harry Anderson Band and The Temptations Review.