Moments before she was to be presented onstage in the Armstrong Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, Miss Dorothy Gail Perry smiled radiantly and said how excited she was about her role and how much she had been looking forward to it. For a young lady who has participated in theatrical events, this was a part with a crowning moment. She was the queen.
The Greater New Orleans Floral Trail hailed Dorothy as its 79th Floral Trail queen. Years before, she graced the court as a princess wearing a long, white, jeune fille dress and a tiara. This time, her strapless dress featured an antebellum skirt of alternating layers of organza and sparkling tulle ruffles. Her major accessories were a crown of aurora borealis stones, a matching scepter and a mantle that fell from her waist.
The daughter of Ms. Dorothy May DeMatteo, queen Dorothy was escorted by her cousin, Mr. Julien Charles Petit.
Maids to her majesty were Misses Vera Ann Fedell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michel Joseph Fedell; Shelby Ann Robicheaux, daughter of Mr. Bret Anthony Robicheaux and Ms. Tina Fremen Newton; and Macie Lynn Schehr, daughter of Maj. and Mrs. William Merlin Schehr.
Macie’s mother remembered that at age 7 she was informed by her grandmother, Bobbie Cascio, that she would be a flower girl of the Greater New Orleans Floral Trail. Her participation was meaningful and memorable. “I will never forget that moment in time with my grandmother,” she said.
Years later, as a wife and mother of two, she so hoped that little Macie would have the same experience. She did and wore her mother’s dress. Most recently, Macie returned to the court as a maid.
Four demoiselles graced the court: Misses Sophia Dianne Cruze, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stacy Ayres Cruze; Emily Rochelle Duplay, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Joseph Duplay; Allison Mary Hedrick, daughter of Mr. Bryant Bernard Hedrick and Ms. Tracy Roddy; and Le’Vanna Maria Rossignol, daughter of Capt. and Mrs. Louis Joseph Rossignol III.
The 11 princesses and their parents were Misses Scarlett Lux Bass, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Lee Bass; Emily Ruth Blosch, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Lee Blosch; Cianna Elizabeth DeMuth, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Paniagua DeMuth; Sophia Margaret Dusang, Mr. and Mrs. Chad Paul Dusang; Lillie Honour Frederick, Mr. and Mrs. John Alexander Frederick; Emily Bernard Hedrick, Mr. Hedrick and Ms. Roddy; Lilian Lee Hernandez and Mercedees Mary Hernandez, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Joseph Hernandez; Shelby Marie LaSalle, Shelby Paul and Dr. Marija G. LaSalle; Chloe Caroline Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Andrew Robertson; and Isabella Grace St. Phillip, Mr. Vincent Joseph St. Phillip and Mrs. Faith Ann Boudoin.
Flower girls — who might dream of being queen one day — and their parents were little Misses Khale Brenna Acosta, Mr. Troy Gregory Acosta and Ms. Debra Lynn Fleming; Lily Elizabeth Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Robertson; and Kaelynn Marie Steltz, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Michael Steltz. Their youthful counterparts, the royal guards, and parents were Masters Chad Joseph Alfonso Jr. and Toby Alfred Alfonso, Mr. and Mrs. Chad Joseph Alfonso; and Logan Thomas Roch, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Charles Roch Jr.
Right before their appearance onstage, when the boys were asked about what they had enjoyed most about the experience, they almost replied in unison, the carriage procession and “throwing flowers.”
The excitement of the 79th annual Festival of Flowers started with a meeting at the Sheraton for photos before going to Jackson Square for the crowning of the queen. Then it was back to the Sheraton in the carriage procession, during which time the young ladies tossed flowers to onlookers along the Vieux Carre route. At the Sheraton, the formal presentation and the queen’s supper followed with music by the Orchestre de Carnaval.
The entrance of the ballroom was banked with flowers and on the tables, and in clear vases were arrangements of lavender and blush roses. Atop the tables were overlays of chartreuse and beige-gold.
During the formalities emceed by GNOFT President Matthew J. Hedrick III, former Floral Trail queens were presented: Courtney Hedrick Dusang, Candace Schwab Steltz, Brittany Reynolds Thomas, Heather Lynn Schwab, Chandler Lauren Burkenstock and Faith Madeline Baggett, who reigned last year. In her reflections, both oral and written, Faith expressed what a wonderful honor she had as the 78th Floral Trail monarch and the extraordinary time she had in a royal role as part of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians in Washington, D.C., during Carnival. She further thanked everyone who made her queenship happen and become what it did. Among Faith’s final words were those for her successor, Dorothy, whom she encouraged to attend as many events as possible and “proudly represent our festival and the city of New Orleans.”
“En pointe”d in the right direction were dancers with the New Orleans Ballet Theatre, who performed on a recent Friday night at The Civic Theatre. Under the marquee “Summer Solstice 2015,” they danced to “Handel’s Occasional Suite,” “Wisp,” “My Friend” and “7 Mose Pieces.” The crowd applauded vigorously and heaped compliments on NOBT Artistic Director Gregory Schramel and spouse Marjorie Hardwick Schramel, associate artistic director and director of Schramel Conservatory of Dance, as well as choreographer/dancer Diogo de Lima. Additional dancers were Christian Clark, Terez Dean, Sara Falstad, Trey Mauldwin, Taryn Mejia, Miguel Angel Montoya, Josh Reynolds, Alessa Rogers, Jo-Ann Sundermeier, Rachel Van Buskirk and Laura VanKouwenberg. Duncan Becker designed the lighting.
Prior to the performance, patrons gathered for a party during which NOBT Executive Director Andrea Moreno (also Andrea I. Moreno Zepeda) made rounds. The first individual to hold that position, Andrea spent four years at Harvard “immersing herself in the arts” and serving as producer for the Harvard Ballet Company before coming to New Orleans with Teach for America. As she neared the end of her time in the classroom, she returned to the arts and especially ballet. She met the Schramels and was inspired by their commitment of 12 years — and continuing — to dance and dance education.
Noted, too, were NOBT board President Ben Allen and spouse Elise, Summer Solstice Chairwoman Kathleen Zuniga and husband Albert, Alissa Allison, Barbara Arras, Sherry Dolan, Mollie Williamson, Rebecca Singley, Vesta Fort, Lisa Tudor, Reese Johanson, Paul and Sara Costello, and Valerie Besthoff. Mom Walda (Mrs. Sydney III) Besthoff has always loved ballet but was not in attendance because she was abroad. “I’m representing both myself and my mother,” Valerie said with a smile.
Purveyance came thanks to the Pelican Club, Mat & Naddie’s, Michael’s Catering, Gautreau’s and Martin Wine Cellar. Performance flowers were donated by Arbor House.
Dozens more milled about The Civic’s lobby, assembled to support NOBT’s goal of fostering “a professional ballet company in and of New Orleans.”