Three of the city’s top fundraisers occurred within a short social span, amassing thousands and thousands of vernal revelers for whom jaguars, jazz and a sartorial jaunt beckoned.
For hours, social prowlers made rounds at the 40th annual Whitney Zoo-To-Do and its “Awakening New Wonder in Audubon Zoo’s Jaguar Jungle.” Caroline Reily and Kelly Dabezies (whose husbands answer to Bo and Cle), respectively chaired the ZTD and the week-earlier Zoo-To-Do for Kids, which was presented by Tulane Pediatrics. Among the honorary chairmen was Brooke H. Duncan, whose late wife, Kitty, founded the event. Caroline (Mrs. Murray A.) Calhoun spearheaded the 2016 socializing.
The features of the 40th were astounding: a sold-out raffle for a Lexus, with thanks galore to Lexus of New Orleans (and Clifton LeBlanc); dozens of dining and hydration stations; creative lighting, eye-catching flowers and dazzling decorations in colors of orange, fuchsia and turquoise, many tapped into the thematic Mayan calendar; a patron lounge and patio; a sponsor package, including the air-conditioned comfort of the Audubon Tea Room; auction items with online services by Thompson Auction Service LLC; and entertainment by Julio y Cesar, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Mem Shannon and the Roadmasters, and headliners Jessie’s Girls.
In addition to Whitney (and President Joe Exnicios, among other notables), the top sponsors were Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Lexus of New Orleans, and Evamor. Checking out what people were wearing was another attraction.
And the Zoo’s “who”? Within the "panthera" pack of 4,000, all imbibing the beautiful evening (and thanking Mother Nature), were several sets of three generations. Sighted were Audubon Nature Institute CEO and President Ron Forman and wife Sally; Cathy and Rivie Cary and her dad, Prentiss Clement Havens; Bob and Katherine Boh, daughter Elizabeth, and granddaughter Katherine Eshleman; Calvin and Frances Fayard; Charles and Linda Teamer; Hill Riddle Jr; Dathel and John Georges; Chad and Vanessa Berg; Jimmy and Pixie Reiss chatting with Bev and Johnny Church; Luis Colmenares; Liz Hefler; Olivia Manning, one of the above and following ZTD chairwomen; Barbara and Peyton Bush; Bruce and Libby Hoefer walking in with Julie Habetz; Susan Ordeman; Margaret and Ken Beer; Bridget and Bobby Bories; Kathleen “Frog” and Terry White; and Virginia and Michael White. Individual Leaders of the Pack sponsors included some of the above and Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Tiller/Mr. and Mrs. Brandon B. Berger/The Berger Family. Christopher Bardell chairs the Audubon Nature Institute Board, and J. Kelly Duncan presides over the Audubon Commission.
In every ZTD cat-egory, the consensus about the 40th fête was feline good. The jaguars will surely hiss and tell, and give it a raving roar.
Jazz is the Name and the Fame
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc. held the 19th annual Jazz & Heritage Gala in the Hyatt Regency’s Celestin Ballroom, with proceeds directed to the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music, the foundation’s free education program. Mutual of America and Shell were the gala’s presenting sponsors; Bill Rouselle was the master of ceremonies; Rachel F. Cousin, gala chairwoman; and, as committee members, Demetric Mercadel (with mom Phyllis Larche Mercadel, who just celebrated a big birthday), Penelope Randolph-Biagas, Barbara Herman and daughter Elizabeth, Kathy Cobette Saloy, and Caryn Rodgers Battiste. The bash was dedicated to the late Carol Solomon, who loved the event and was always involved. Her most significant contribution was having Peoples Health Network (of which she was the CEO) as the first major sponsor. Family, including daughter Michelle Long (with Stephen), and friends attended in support and remembrance.
Decorations included a pink and white 1957 Nash Metropolitan automobile; “Cuban Tropicana” decor; a Tropicana Nightclub and an arch with LED lighting; crystal chandelier centerpieces; and other touches to celebrate Cuba. Shades of turquoise, vivid magenta and green abounded as did subtle lighting. “Stylish and beyond festive” was one partygoer’s description. All this came under the theme “Hola Latinola! Cuba Meets New Orleans. Feet Meet the Dance Floor.”
The Heritage School of Music, Septeto Nacionale of Cuba and the Neville Family Funktion (Art, Charles, Cyril, Ian, Ivan and Jason) made exemplary music. Meanwhile guests trekked to the many food and drink stations and the silent and live auctions, with Erin Cousin and Jaymie Honore leading the bidding on (among other items) a John Bukaty painting. More than $29,000 was raised in the entire auction.
Notables were foundation Executive Director Don Marshall, President Donna Santiago, Mayor Mitch and Cheryl Landrieu, Anthony Sylvester, Councilman Jared Brossett, Bill and Mary Hines, Kathleen Turner, Dorian Bennett, Parker Sternbergh, the Rod Wests, Christopher Bardes, Sheriff and Mrs. Marlin Gusman, the Paul Hinnenkamps, Danny Thomas, Laney and Ruth Chouest, the John Finans, Jim and Gemelle Linzy, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Woods, the Gregory Holts, Eugenia and Peter Caldwell, Karen and Bobby Major, Ann Heslin, Charles and Vonda Rice, Anthony Sylvester, Alfred Groos, Peter Embi, and countless others who reveled in Cuba-Crescent City connections.
Getting a jump start on summer, 450 partygoers headed to The Shops at Canal Place for Sippin’ in Seersucker to benefit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Needless to say, seersucker wear dominated and a contest hosted by emcee Charles Divins determined the best looks. Judges Jolie Bensen Hamilton and Sarah Dewey Petitto (of Jolie & Elizabeth) roamed the crowd selecting contest participants. Everyone roamed the first two floors of Canal Place for light bites and cocktails, as well as raffle chances, Big Easy Photo Booth souvenirs and the “seen” scene. Background and front-forward sounds came from music makers Little Freddie King and Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses.
Mastheaders included L. Kasimu Harris, Ariel M. Wilson, Benjy Lowry and Shelly Gallender, who chaired the bash; Ogden board Chairwoman Allison Kendrick; museum Executive Director William Pittman Andrews; Roger H. Ogden for whom it’s named; Shops at Canal Place general manager Lisa Manzella; and Hattie and Corey Moll and Elliot Hutchinson, who’re chairing the Ogden’s Magnolia Ball on June 10.
Sippin’ committee members included some of the above and Amanda Aiken, Ronald Carrere and Amanda Isaacs, Amanda Credeur, Brooke Davis, Dr. Derrick O. Dean and Torry Dean, Bobby Dressel, Mara and Josh Force, Jacquelyn and Antwan Harris, Lesli D. Harris, Jessie Haynes, Marshall Hevron, Juliana Hoffpauir, Marissa Hutabarat and Mark El-amm, Dr. Kelli Jordan, Robert Keller, Anna and Scott Kornick, and Walker Lasiter. Also, Missy Lindsey, Gretchen Lynn, Haardt Moses, Bridget Nalley and David Fruzynski, Sadie Nius, Holly-Anne Palmer, Margaret and Doug Plymale, Melanie Warner Spencer, Lauren Steinhardt, Claire Elizabeth Thriffiley, Liz Van Dervort, and Jeremy Weintraub. Always a highlight of the night, the costume contest produced the above Elliott Hutchinson and Vivienne Bowie, daughter of Jane Winslow and Robert Bowie, as “Seersucker” winners.