The Social Swirl

Over the Moon

Gallivanters were dazzled when they entered the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and beheld the sidereal scene. A moon and stars hung from the stadium’s ceiling; the 200-plus tables were covered with blue and gold glitter tablecloths; the VIP ones had even more decorative touches; and the centerpieces were arranged with yellow roses and delphiniums. (Following the gala, the centerpieces were brought to patient facilities and hospice locations through a partnership with Hope Blooms.) Additionally, the whole interior was bathed in blue lighting to further the stunning effect.

For the fifth year, Ochsner Moonlight & Miracles Gala amassed thousands for “a journey of hope.” It is Ochsner’s biggest annual fundraising event, with all proceeds benefiting Ochsner Cancer Institute.

The socializing started at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception and Jeremy Davenport’s music. In lieu of a days-before patron party, donors and certain VIPs congregated in an area of the Dome with entertainment by the Victory Belles. A drum circle throughout the stadium was led by the nationally acclaimed LED Champagne Creative Drum Group and New Orleans Master’s Touch Drumline. Rendering the national anthem was The Marine Corps Band of New Orleans. At 7:30 p.m., Centerplate (chef Lenny Martinsen) catered the seated dinner of romaine salad, lobster timbale and braised beef rib, and bananas Foster cheesecake. Warner L. Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, was the presentation’s cynosure and Mark Romig, the master of ceremonies. Patient/survivors and Gibson Sewell were the focus of videos, while Dr. Marc Matrana and Karen T. Stall (accompanied by spouse Charles "Chuck") were hailed as the 2017 Miracle Maker Award recipients.

As she has for years, Gayle M. Benson, a member of the Ochsner Foundation Board, chaired the gala event and its high-profile committee of 56 women. Both she and husband Tom, owner of the Saints and Pelicans, figured in the top donor category (Champion Sponsors) under The Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation.

They were noted as were Ochsner board Chairwoman Suzanne Mestayer, Saints President Dennis and Jennifer Lauscha, 2018 M & M Co-Chairwomen Lollie Rozas and Celia Ward with husbands Darren and Charlie, Scott and Kristi Ballard, Paul and Donna Flower, Brian and Jennifer Hebert, Dr. John “Johnny” Ochsner and Mary Lou, Dr. Lock and Lori Ochsner, Dr. Rise Ochsner, Bill and Carolyn Oliver, Anderson and Michelle Baker, Bob and Norris Williams, Dr. Rob and Joanne Marier, and Tim and Jeanne Walker. Hundreds more, as well, who crossed their fingers for the raffle of a 2018 white C300W Mercedes-Benz and enjoyed post-prandial dancing to Simply Irresistible.

Smiles abounded when the evening’s tally came in: More than $1.5 million was raised. Since it began five years ago, Moonlight & Miracles has added more than $6 million to the Ochsner Cancer Institute. Star-power!

Deux Maisons

Two houses were the beneficiaries and another two the social sites. Sights, too, as guests roamed about admiring the décor and design. A top party in the autumn months, the annual Historic Houses Society Gala to benefit the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses — both National Historic Landmark museums — honored Circle-level members. Teamed to chair the 2017 gathering were Ashley S. Bright, Sheila K. Favrot and Betsy B. Laborde. Holly W. Neiset (with John) is The Woman’s Exchange president, and Mathilde V. Currence was the gala host. Titled “A Tale of Two Houses,” the event first gathered guests to Rosa Park to the historic home of Sheila and James Favrot with French 75 as the signature cocktail and then, next door, to that of the Mathilde and Richard Currence with cuisine by the James Beard Award-winning chef, Sue Zemanick and jazzy sounds by a NOCCA three-piece band. Dunn and Sonnier did flowers for each home.

Notables, and there were many, included Ethel Clay, Susan and Jimmy Gundlach, Susu and Andrew Stall, Joyce Pulitzer, Ellen and Grant Coleman, Carolyn and Brian Fitzpatrick, President-Elect Sarah Young and George, Tink Friedrichs, Valerie Besthoff, Ann and Rob Gardiner, Melissa and Jerry Steiner, Elizabeth Boh, Marie and Jimmy Cahn, Lisa and Karl Hoefer, and Steve Smith, interim executive director.

Space was the Place

For the 2017 Howling Success to benefit the Louisiana SPCA, “Out of This World” was the clever theme and guests sported “black tie, cocktail or themed dress.” Attendees were met at the entrance of the Hyatt Regency Hotel by costumed cohorts and led to the Empire Ballroom for the pawsome partying, starting with the patron pack. Rachel Dyer, Kelley Mitchell, Christie Anderson and Dean Howard teamed to chair the bash. Ana Zorilla is the LA/SPCA CEO.

More getting rec-fur-nition were Nita Hemeter and the LA/SPCA Feral Cat Program Volunteers, the Humanitarian Award; and meow-mbers of the honorary celebrity committee: Chris Chalk, Timon Kyle Durrett, Bryan Ferry, Leslie Iwerks, Carla Jimenez, Phillip P. Keene, Marisol Nichols, Amanda Shaw, Jill Wagner, and Aaron Williamson. Features included Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, Four Unplugged, Gia Maione Prima Foundation Recognition, Roux La La Mardi Gras, Mother Tucker’s Drag Queens, and the Intergalactic Krewe of the Chewbacchus. To mention most. Bryan Subaru provided the red carpet fun and the social media photo booth. Always a highlight of the event, the Capital One-sponsored auction enticed with six boards of coveted items and Symmetry Jewelers created HS lapel pins for the co-chairmen.

The decorations wowed the crowd. Bright silver and white flowers with fluorescent glow sticks by NOLA Flora adorned the tables, where two-legged legions sat to enjoy cuisine by 1718-Hyatt Regency, Sucre, Galatoire’s and Vessel NOLA, among others. Drinks flowed and Canine Connection provided patron bags.

Within the galactic gang were board President Kerri Kane and Chris, Dr. J. Coller Ochsner, Angela Hill and Dr. Irwin Marcus, Eleanor Farnsworth and friend Dr. Sissy Sartor, Keith and Machelle Hall, Deedra and Donald Wing, Paulette and Frank Stewart, Jackie and Bruce Shreves, Susan and Bill Hess, Edmund and Kathy Schrenk, Margaret and Walker Saik, Beth and Austin Lavin, Lynda Woolard, Scott Niemeyer, Luis and Regina Zervigon, Allison Shapiro and Bobby Dandy, and about 830 more, who made “Space” their place as they showed dogged determination and relished marvelous meow-ments.