Debutante season, here we come! And a deb septet lighted the way for the bounty of bashes that will follow in the coming months. “Light up the Night!” bannered the partying that unfolded in Generations Hall and, for hours, blended luminosity and levity.
Radiant as the honorees were Misses Aggie Bell, daughter of Aimee and Michael Bell; Gigi Bienvenu, daughter of Carol and Al Bienvenu; Shawn Conner, daughter of Linda and Pierre Conner; Tsana Demmas, daughter of Raine Bedsole Demmas and George Demmas; Ara Ellison, daughter of Felicia Rabito and Bill Ellison; Sara Gambel, daughter of Layne and Gary Gambel; and Shelby Meckstroth, daughter of Sarah and Jeff Meckstroth.
Ambiance was immediately to the festive fore. Guests arrived through a courtyard pathway beneath trees glinting with colorful lights. At the entrance to Generations Hall, there were flanking contemporary white lantern poles, flickering candlelight, music by saxophonist Orlando Gilbert, and “Light up the Night” projected onto the courtyard walls and path.
Once inside, summer champagne cocktails were the immediate libation, while the marvels of the firmament offered visual effervescence. Special-effect lighting included a celestial sky and the names of the seven honorees. As for the bars, they were back lighted in blue with exquisite chandeliers above.
In the venue’s second room, the lighting embraced South America thematically. Vibrant colored lights created the atmosphere of a carnival night in Brazil with Casa Samba musicians and dancers adding the performance fillip. The joyful beat permeated the premises and guests of all ages joined in a Casa Samba-led samba line dance. Even the seven deb dads got into the act by leading the way with pyrotechnic sparklers shooting from chilled champagne bottles. To further this joy, a live video of the dancing streamed throughout the location.
The party’s peregrination then moved into the third room, the stage area, of Generations Hall, where the Tip Tops from Mobile, Alabama, performed and dancing was on two levels. At one point late in the evening, the lights went off when several nearby blocks experienced a power outage. So what! Thousands of flickering candles and the white glow of party necklaces, bracelets and rings continued to “Light up the Night.” (Entergy was prompt to respond and the power returned to accompany the dancing that went into the wee hours.) Commented one party-goer, “The candle power was so beautiful, it looked like it was carefully planned.”
Delighting in the myriad aspects of the merriment were the Bell brigade, which included deb siblings Leighton and Bristol Bell, grandparents Ann and Bill Bell, Jeanne and Allen Bell, Kathy Finney, Janet and Thomas Favrot, Lynn and T. Nolan, Kathryn and Benton Smallpage, Michele and Kevin Murphy, lots of first cousins, and a slew of college and camp friends. Bienvenu presence included deb siblings Madeleine, Albert and Taylor Bienvenu; grandparents Al and Betty Bienvenu and Sandra Henry; Kathy and Joe Wink; Cameron and Jamie Henry; Jean Pierre Bienvenu and fiancée Erin Kolb; Elizabeth and Ronnie Bourgeois; Shannon and Evans Schmidt and son Evans; Bo and Conway Farrell with Morgan; and with their daughters, Laura and Chip Brooks with Francie, Maryann and Peter Moss with Rachael, and Sharon and John Lagarde with Katie.
They made tracks to the various food areas and the Rommel Catering that included a variety of seafood dishes, Asian fusion, a sushi bar, a carved-beef station, a pizza display, and an ice cream sundae bar. Late night “Light” trippers relished the french fry bar.
Noted, too, were Conner kin and chums, such as deb siblings Carlin and Michael Conner, Stephen and Beth Conner with Charlotte and Camille, Sallie and Tom Rainer with Tillman, Julie and Monty Burlingame, Laura and Bill O’Leary, George Young and son-in-law Matt Meeks (their wives were out of town), Parker and Eileen Stewart, Robbin Stackhouse and Erica, college and high school friends, and David and Carol Pointer, who were up bright and early the next morning when she was honored as a retiring Jazzercise instructor.
Massey Demmas joined her deb sister’s fun, as did grandparents Ann Bedsole and Mary Demmas, Judy Ary, and a pack of pals. Among the Rabito-Ellison nearest and dearest were grandparents Dr. and Mrs. Felix Rabito, the Robert G. Ellisons, Michael Rabito, the Bruce Warners, Jose Canseco and Ms. Sam Cavell, Patrick Corcoran, Warren Backer and David Cortez, the Mark Mallorys, the Keith McDaniels, and Janet McGrew.
Gambel gambolers included deb siblings Elizabeth and Ellen Lorraine Gambel, grandmothers Ellen Gambel and Sara Wolfe, the Robert Lapeyres, Robert Lapeyre, Kiernan Berger, Anne Lynne and Storey Charbonnet, the Mark Gundlachs, and the Michael Ellises.
Miles Meckstroth was the twin counterpart to deb sister/honoree Shelby, who also counted their grandmother, Joy Meckstroth, as close family. Others making “Light” their night were Julie Meckstroth Bevington, Lauren and George Brower with daughter Lindsey Brower Beard, Cathy and Rivie Cary with Havens, Robert and Cindy Weinmann with Nicole, Grace Kaynor with son Granville, Beth and Eddie Dienes, and state Sen. Conrad Appel and Carol.
White cocktail dresses outfitted the limelighted seven. Aggie Bell’s mode was from Em’s; Gigi Bienvenu’s was designed by Suzanne Perrone St. Paul; Shawn Conner’s was from New Friends Colony; Tsana Demmas caught the eye in an Alice and Olivia creation; Ara Ellison’s fitted design with floral cutouts was by Needle and Thread; Sara Gambel’s frock featured an off-shoulder ruffle; and Shelby Meckstroth partied in a Parker design.
Their mothers made their own sartorial statements in keeping with the “summer cocktail” request on the invitation, and their dads and brothers sported white summer suits and Vineyard Vines ties, which depicted stars on a night sky.
Dancing commanded the later hours and folks flocked to the floor for the beat of the Tip Tops and their hot hits. All the while, attention was focused on the honorees, who during “Light up the Night” were the sure cynosures.