Starry, Starry Night
“Family Reunion” was the first song of renowned artist Eddie Levert of O’Jays fame and it set the tone for the bash. More than 700 patrons came from across the country for the annual bash, making it feel like a gathering of kin. Graduates and friends made revelry “relative.”
“Heavenly Host of Stars Gala” titled the event that unfolded in the Empire Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on a recent Sunday evening. Billed as “a musical and culinary extravaganza,” it celebrated and supported the Sisters of the Holy Family’s 175 years of ministry and will provide for the needs of the elderly Sisters. The order was founded in “1842 by the Venerable Henriette Delille, a free woman of color.” Since then, the Sisters have provided education, health care, low-income housing for senior citizens, prison ministry, and social and pastoral care to families. Sister M. Greta Jupiter, S.S.F. is the congregational leader and Rod and Madeline West were hailed as the honorary chaircouple. Tracie Boutte chaired the gala.
Listed as members of the gala committee were Tracie and Madeline, Gail Armant, Sister Leona Bruner, S.S.F., Gretta Burns, Sister Alicia Costa, S.S.F., Willard Dumas, Connie Fitch, Kim Hypolite, Sister Greta, Clarice Kirkland, Marianne Koehl, Wayne Lemell, Rhesa McDonald, Demetric Mercadel, Jane Nalty, Sandra Rhodes-Duncan, Alexis Robinson, Mark Romig, Marcia St, Martin, Michael O. Smith, Gordon Stevens, Carroll Suggs, Janice C. Taylor, Diane Tillman and Carmie Winters. Most all were in attendance.
At 5:30 p.m., the patron party revved up the excitement with sounds by Dwight andConnie Fitch and soulful singer Naydja CoJoe, with accompaniment by David Batiste and Family. (The New Orleans Batiste family is said to be “Louisiana’s largest musical family.”) Then guests began their mealtime meandering, dining on donated dishes from some of the city’s finest restaurants. Dishes from gumbo to fresh seafood to desserts galore pleased every palate as gala-goers sat at tables adorned with elegant blue tablecloths and accents of glitter and stars. Beautiful bouquets of white flowers served as centerpieces.
Concert time found hundreds of eager patrons ready for more activity on the exciting agenda. Via video, Sister Greta Jupiter greeted the crowd and thanked all the supporters of the Sisters’ ministries. Her remarks were followed by the thrilling performances of Davell Crawford, Sharon Martin and Wanda Rouzan. Their lively artistry had the crowd dancing, including some of the Sisters, who joined in the Electric Slide.
Yet another feature was the live auction, which included a “Heavenly Dinner for 10 at the Sisters of the Holy Family Motherhouse”; a “175th Anniversary Cookbook” with the autographs of more than 50 Sisters; and dinners (a Brennan’s dine-around and one with chef Gason Nelson), both with limousine service.
Awards went to Channel 4 WWL-TV and the Hyatt Regency Hotel for their support. Sister Leona Bruner gave special recognition to Ellis Marsalis, who with his late wife, Dolores, were ardent supporters of the Sisters. The musical tribute that he played for her touched every heart.
Among the scores of attendees were Charles and Vonda Rice, Todd and Penny Francis, the Bill Kearneys, Bobby and Karen Major, the Rev. Chuck Andrus, SSJ, Brian and Stacie Burns, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Rodgers III, Phillip and Lauren May, Dr. and Mrs. Louis Bevrotte, Wayne and Annette Francingues, Romona Jupiter, Dr. William St. John LaCorte, Honorary Consul of South Africa in New Orleans Keith A. Doley and wife Kathleen, Sandra and Gregory McKendall, and former Sheriff Paul Valteau and Paula T. Saizan.
Back to Eddie Levert! When he continued his musical wizardry, coming up with such numbers as “Casanova,” the dance floor beckoned far and wide. It was impossible to resist the nighttime moving and grooving.
Bugsy’s Jazz Club, Flapper Lounge, Capone’s Hideaway, Machine Gun Alley and Lefty’s Juke Joint recalled a time in U.S. history when dance styles, a new type of music, and gangsters were tabloid fodder. Flash forward to 2017, those titles were the sponsor categories for the recent 1920s-themed bash, Sealed in Style, to benefit Easterseals Louisiana. It was marqueed “Ain’t Misbehavin.” The Metairie Country Club was the venue.
Tables covered with white linens strewed with black and white ostrich feathers provided an immediate sense of ambiance and sophistication. So did the tall, hourglass vases that were lit with tiny lights. Hydrangeas inside had decorations of beads and jewels and the top of the arrangement was embellished with black and white ostrich feathers.
Heavy hors d’oeuvres and a carving station provided fine food. Meanwhile, guests chatted about the work of Easterseals Louisiana, which, in 2016, supported more than 7,500 families across Louisiana through therapy, training, education and support services. It is “the leading nonprofit of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical and mental disabilities and other special needs.”
Two honorees were limelighted during the Roaring Twenties tout. The first was kindergartner Rain Bougere, who lives in Thibodaux. In October of 2015, he was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Speech Delay, and Global Development Delay. His mother, Sylnita, assisted by Easterseals, organized the first Autism Family Day in April. The second honoree, Anthony Bondi (with Melanie) was hailed for his generosity in the rescue of flooded families last August.
Notables included Easterseals Louisiana board members Dennis Tizard, Tommy Tizzard and Nancy, Brianne Rome with Curt, and Patrick Yoes; event Co-Chairmen George Rosenbohm IV (with Rachel Devenyi) and Tina Beachler (with husband Larry); and committee members George Rosenbohm III with Bonnie, Anthony Cimino with Kenneth Fielder, and Shannon Ledet with Curtis. Margaret Orr answered to mistress of ceremonies, and Tracy Gerner to Easterseals president and CVEO. Still others were Dr. Jack Saux and Reina Solano, Thomas Richert, Deborah Stagni and Frank Stire, and dozens more, who donned ‘20s togs.
For the dancing, the spotlight targeted Refried Confuzion. The six-piece band and its music makers kept the crowd entertained with sounds from the ‘70s and ‘80s and the joys of gyrating.
We Woke Up Like This
Matutinal merriment and modes (ahem!) blended at a unique bash. This occurred during the fifth annual Moms Night Out of New Orleans Moms Blog, when hundreds of women hied to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art having “a chance to dress like you do in real life.” The fun-raiser was sponsored by the museum, Children’s Hospital, Touro Infirmary, Sazerac, and Engel & Volkers. On all the levels of the Ogden, enticements were named Sips, Savors, Sweet Treats, and Giveaways. Printed programs guided the “Woke Up” women, who also had plenty of opportunities to shop.
Outside, tea lights lined the walkway for the amused matrons, who sported pajamas, nightgowns, sleep masks, and shower caps. Chalkboard art provided direction and purple paper flowers adorned the railings. Within, the throng heard DJ music: light at the outset, danceable later.
The “Woke” who’s who included Dr. Joanna Buckingham, Dr. Isabel Remedios, Cathleen Randon, Sarah Ott, Aimee Gowland, Corrie Pellerin, Pat Howard, Elizabeth Bordelon, Dr. Leann Evans, Tisha Seghers, Dr. Arelis Figueroa, Heather Razmus, Dr. Jamie Sias, Tiki McIntyre, Veronica Ridgley, Giselle Diaz Eastlack, and Anne Comarda. For starters. They and their slumber sisters brought donations of supplies for the New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter. It was enough to fill a U-Haul truck!