Jitterbug Jaunt

“The Big Band Bash: A Night in the ’40s” made the past a very present party for 300 or so guests, who donned period togs (or wished they had) for the annual Academy of the Sacred Heart Auction. Located in the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center of the National World War II Museum, the bash was given the ultimate atmospheric accent, thanks to the museum’s U.S.-made aircraft and various vehicles. Guests milled about under several hanging planes, including the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “My Gal Sal.”

Tables were set with navy blue cloths draped with red and white-striped fabric for patriotic flair. Centering each table was a unique piece from the past, such as a telephone, books, gloves, a Maison Blanche hat box, everyday items, and prized photographs.

Prior to the main event, scores of patrons rubbed shoulders and sipped the signature “40s Flair” cocktail in the American Sector Restaurant, which is located in the Solomon Victory Theater Pavilion. That décor fit in nicely with the party’s theme, thanks to pictures from the past.

Throughout the evening, the bash brigade enjoyed cuisine and cocktails by the American Sector and the executive chef, the appropriately surnamed Eric Cook. Charcuterie and an artisan cheese display, pork loin and a specialty dessert display were consumed with glee. Thanks for sponsorships tapped Tulane Health System and Whitney Bank in the top Jitterbug category, and Wells Fargo Advisors and Marguerite K. Kingsmill in the next one, East Coast Swing.

After guests were welcome by headmistress Sister Melanie A. Guste, RSCJ, there was a special presentation of “Girls of the ’40s,” a short documentary with alums’ tales of the time and introduced by Mignon Faget, class of 1951. Alumnae Joel Roy Barnett, Corinne Lapeyre Barry, Blanche Lewis Capritto, Veronica Landry Kampen, Margot de la Houssaye Koch, Elizabeth “Betty” Nairne McDermott, Jane Waguespack Molony and Florence O’Connor Onstad starred.

Further numbers enjoyed prominence when the silent and live auctions got rolling. Student artwork, buy-in parties, vacations, dining experiences and more enticements commanded the online silent portion. For the oral action that was done in two segments, Mark Romig, son of alumna Janice Collins Romig, stepped forward at 9:30 p.m. as auctioneer. “That’s a gavel!” he announced as a top and most attractive bid came in for “Dinner for Four at Sr. Guste’s Home.” The headmistress, aka Chef Guste, was the donor and Marguerite Kingsmill, alumna/former board of trustees chairwoman, was the top bidder. Joining Marguerite were daughters Adair and Allison. Chef Dominique Macquet, Wendy Maquet and Saveur Restaurant gave “An Unforgettable Evening” at Saveur, while John and Machelle Payne gave “Vegas, Baby!” for a twosome in “Fabulous Las Vegas.” The Paynes were also buyers: They purchased “Mignon Faget —Week Long Marketing Internship.”

Salutes found worthy recipients in Marty and Colleen McLeod —he chairs the board of trustees and she, the alumnae board; auction Chairwoman Caroline Parrish attending with husband Stephen; Dr. William (representing Tulane Health System) and Mary Lynn Lunn; Liz (Whitney Bank) and Dr. Henry Hefler; Susan and Chuck (Wells Fargo Advisors) Viator; Holley and Shane Guidry; and with the above Blanche Capritto, daughter Bette Armentor. Kelly Ellis and Catherine Sewell are co-presidents of the Mothers’ Club.

The gala committee was composed of Anjanette Bent, Karen Dufour, Sally Edrington, Natasha Forest, Ann-Maree Gallagher, Dale Gallagher, Alyson Igoe, Susan Read Johnson, Suellen Maureau and Chris Rubin. Most were noted, as were spouses Dr. Peter Igoe, Bob Rubin, Wayne Maureau, Doug Johnson and Richard Edrington.

Back to the beat! And to the past. The evening was marqueed “The Big Band Bash,” and stepping back in time, often literally, was The Victory Six Big Band.

Big Wheels from Times Gone By

Guests immediately pulled out camera phones and clicked away. Who wouldn’t with what was before them? Cars and old toys of another era.

Said one party principal, “There was a sensory overload when first walking in that made people eager to see everything the museum had to offer.”

The Excelsior Gala and Auction of Our Lady of Holy Cross College unfolded in Henry Shane Cars of Yesteryears Museum on a recent Friday evening. College President David M. “Buck” Landry, Ph.D., who was joined by Yvonne, extended the invitation to the gala that benefited the Alumni Scholarship Fund. Alums Terri Bice (whose daughter, Kelsea, also an alum, came in from Houston) and Mike Lopez were the honorary chairmen. Angela Falcone presides over the seven-person alumni board.

Additional notables — and several attended OLHCC — were Phil and Donna Blanchard, Mark Rigamer, Elwood and Sandra Cahill, Dave Catherman, Meredith Reed, executive Vice President Ken and Betty Tedesco, provost Dr. Victoria Dahmes, college dean Dr. Michael LaBranche, alumni coordinator Steve Morgan with Luci, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, Dr. Lisa and Larry Sullivan, hosts Henry and Pat Shane, and OLHCC regents: Dr. Jan Lancaster (superintendent of Catholic Schools), Pam Lincoln, and Sisters Renee Daigle, Gretchen Dysart and Ellen Kron.

Additional features were the flowers, auction tables, and banners decorated by Pamela Lopez; catering by La Maison Creole; and a jukebox that played throughout the night. The highlight occurred when the two honorees were cited: Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, for her many years of service to New Orleans and OLHCC, and alumna Sister Carolyn Bourgeois, MSC, for her dedication and loyalty to the Alumni Association. Joining Jackie were husband Buzz, family members Michael and Kevin Sanders, and friends John and Sandy Portwood, Leonard Alsfeld, Rhonda and Neil Dorfman and Rob and Cassie Worley.

“Their dedication and commitment to the college has been a guiding light for many of our students,” said President Landry about the two honorees, whom he extolled “for their unwavering support” of OLHCC.

Leadership and Levity

“Shout! Celebrating 15 Years of Leadership.” That was the come-on for the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute gala at Chateau Golf & Country Club for which “cocktail or costume” was the suggested attire. Innovation Sponsor, the top donor category, listed Entergy Corporation and Postlethwaite & Netterville. Ric Smith was the gala chairman, Demetric M. Mercadel the “co,” and Voris Vigee, NORLI Alumni Affairs chairwoman.

Notable attendees included Mark Cunningham, Keith Colvin, Guy Brierre, Betsie Gambel, Ben Johnson, Natalie Robottom, Rufino Saavedra, Jackie Sullivan, Greg Rattler, Peggy Mendoza, and Scott Aiges. Most were accompanied.

As they milled about, they cast an eye on the décor and flowers done by Crystal Floral LLC that featured a mixture of centerpieces of varying heights. The tallest had an array of cream-colored flowers. Of course, the food fare was a major attraction with passed items, a display, a carving station and a hot buffet.

Guests also purchased raffle items and crossed their fingers for a staycation with dinner at Restaurant R’evolution; an Apple iWatch; two tickets to the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; and a spa treatment at the Waldorf Astoria Spa (in The Roosevelt).

To make “Shout” thrilling, Deacon John and the Ivories did the music making. And adding a feminine fillip, the Saintsations made a special, and much appreciated, appearance.