Tinsel Town tributes were ubiquitous, both in theme and costume. Guests rubbed shoulders with Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Elvis and others too celebrated to mention. (So what if a bunch of them are no longer with us, having gone on to their — ahem! — eternal rewards.) The spirit of glamour, notoriety and Hollywood-determinism prevailed at the fundraiser, where luminaries came in all forms.
As guests entered the party premises, they held black “Admission” tickets, which were accented in gold with red lettering, stating “Red Carpet Gala & Silent Auction.” In gold script, “Benefitting Holy Name of Jesus School” stated the party’s purpose, and farther down “Hollywood attire,” the hoped-for garb. (This was not the night to don that always-worn LBD — Little Black Dress.) For the most part, both guys and gals opted for the thematic take and everyone had fun trying to figure out the sartorial who’s who.
After making an entrance in the thematically transformed area of the school, the site for the Hollywood night, gala-goers eyed the neon-lighted sign that proclaimed “Almost Famous.” Tables were covered in dramatic black linens and centered with red rose petals, clear glass bowls, and votive candles. Lambent lighting made all the distaff (and the “dat staff”) attendees eager for the click of close-ups.
Enjoying their limelight as event co-chairwomen were Lauren Beasley and Dottie Ellis, who were joined by hubbies Ryan and Michael. Jennifer McCausland and Ricky Dietz — with Patrick and Cheryl — were cast in top supporting roles as auction solicitation chairmen. The clothing consensus seemed to be long Hollywood glamour gowns, and for the men, white dinner jackets and black formal pants. (Super-casual togs outfitted the McCauslands on another very recent occasion when they chaired the 31st annual Gator Fun Run for the school.)
Getting top billing in the “Producer” category of generous sponsors, among others, were Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Ellis, the Cris Jacksons, and the charitable trusts of Alex and Heather Lambert and of Betty Jane Nolan. The 44-person committee, running the A-W alphabetical gamut from Kristy Amedee to Nicole Wood, listed such sidereal names as Skeet Anseman, Chris D’Amour, Shenea D’Amour, Buffie Flair, Dawn Savoie and Trisha Starr. That’s two R’s!
Also rubbing “Almost Famous” shoulders were HNJ Men’s Club President Mark Wetmore and Stephanie, Parent-Teacher Club President Ed Wallace and Lauren, church pastor the Rev. Edwin Gros, S.J., Ann Marie and Rader Jackson, Danielle and Christopher Brinson, Stephanie and Louis Schott, Jennifer and Brian Holley, Becky Ellis Keller and Josh, Virginia and Donald Ellis, Anne-Marie and Nathan Shores, Cindy and Ryan Oufnac, Amy and Leon Edmund, and, with David, Maria Huete, who just co-chaired Julia Jump for the Preservation Resource Center. Chris and Amy Casbarian added to the lively picture with her wearing a wedding dress as a “runaway bride.’’
From the school came principal Courtney Wolbrette, Marnie Woynowski and Libby McGinn; and from the church, Jesuit Fathers Danny Tesvich and Stephen Rountree.
All the while the Hollywood hobnobbers were gazing (at both one another and silent auction items) and grazing. “This party always has the best food,” commented one regular reveler, who reached for yet another “Mrs. Cathy Campagna” brownie. And then a JCB cookie. The live auction and its ado kicked off at 9:30 p.m. with Chet Pourciau (who rivals any screen actor for good looks) as the auctioneer. The party’s constellation upped bidding for earrings from Friend & Co. Fine Jewelers, a Saints football, Michelle Tullis artwork, and a one-year HNJ tuition.
The “Almost Famous” red-carpet walk soon saw more animated activity when DJ Dizzy spun his tunes and “Best Dancer” awards would have been manifold.
- Campaign Reception
With the credits having figuratively rolled, an end-of-campaign reception unfolded for the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans Archbishop Hannan Community Appeal (AHCA). It was held in the residence of Archbishop Gregory Aymond, the host, to thank the AHCA volunteers and extraordinary donors, to celebrate the 2013 campaign’s successful conclusion (which raised a total of $1,965,979 and exceeded its goal), and to honor volunteers with 45, 40, 35, 15, 10 and five years of service to the campaign.
Taking a bow within those categories, and led off in descending order by those numbers, were Evangeline Vavrick, 45 (joined by daughter Eve), Claiborne Perrilliat, Jr., 40 (with Jeanie); and a “35” threesome in Ronald J. Jung (with Sandra), John J. Weiler (with Carol) and Ron Blitch. For “15,” the names to know were Daniel P. Bourgeois (with Diane) and Frederick J. Sigur Jr. (with daughter Rachel).
Additional notables included Catholic Charities President and CEO Sister Marjorie Hebert, M.S.C.; with spouse Kathryn, 2013 AHCA Chairman J.T. Hannan, great-nephew of the late Archbishop Philip Hannan, the community appeal’s namesake; 2014 chaircouple Mason and Jennifer Couvillon, who were introduced by the archbishop; Catholic Charities board Chairman Tommie Vassel; and Vice Chairman Michael O. Read. And, past Chairman Mark Spansel, Gail and Roy Daigle, Renny Simno, and a mom-daughter duo in Mary Ann Valentino and Ann Fuselier.
Approximately 80 others circulated socially, exchanging good news about the campaign that abets the many programs of Catholic Charities (by raising unrestricted funds), as well as their own tidings. A selection of fine wines and cocktails, Rommel’s Catering, and taste treats from Drago’s and Acme Oyster House added to the conviviality. Congratulations, too, flowed to J.T. Hannan, the recipient of a beautifully engraved glass bowl from CC for his campaign work.
The exceeded goal of $1.965 million highlighted the numerical reference to the year 1965 when his great-uncle, Archbishop Philip Hannan, arrived in New Orleans to begin an almost 50-year period of service to the community.
A Sweet Sixteen
After a patron party at the residence of Michael Murphy and Brent Becnel, the Louise S. McGehee School Parents’ League held an on-premises fundraiser titled “Eileen’s Royal Sweet 16” with a Marie Antoinette theme as depicted by Carter Jahncke Perrilliat on the pink and blue pastel invitation and program. The event hailed the years Eileen Powers has been the school’s headmistress.
Making the evening special were bash Chairwomen Madhavi King and Mary Hassinger Schmidt with Rhett and Justin; Nissa Teissier and Urban Earth for the thematic decorations, especially around the Bradish Johnson house; a decorative cake from Mardi Gras Productions; RZI Lighting; food at both party venues by Chez Nous; school board Chairwoman Eileen Coleman with Grant; and live auctioneer Ruthie Winston. (She’s an alum as are some others mentioned in the McGehee merriment and that of Holy Name School.)
A popular item was a Tim Trapolin painting dedicated to Powers and purchased by the above Mary Schmidt.
Among the additional purchasers of coveted items were Scott Zander and also John Stockmeyer. Wellington & Co. Fine Jewelry provided the raffle-item necklace.
More in the “Sweet” set were patron Co-Chairwomen Chrissy Carmody and Megan Layman with Ian and Todd, Cathy and Morris Batt, Parents’ League President Elizabeth Williams with James, auction Chairwoman Tara Weiss with Ken, Ansley and Carter Marshall, the aptly named Sweet and Ben Dupuy, spouses Tina Dang and Hai Nguyen, Kathleen and Ben Banta, Meredith and Baldwin Montgomery, Holly and John Gordon, Sarah and George Young, Jill and Lee Plotkin, Camille and Scott Zander, and Sarah and Tommy Usdin. A deejay added the musical notation and “Royal” revels abounded.