On a recent Friday evening, a brace of must-attend bashes had folks pounding the floor in celebration. In City Park’s Arbor Room overlooking the historic Popp Fountain, the Preservation Resource Center hailed a two-score anniversary with its 37th annual Julia Jump during “A Mid-City Night’s Dream.” Before The Wiseguys band beckoned the Jump’s boogie brigade, Amanda Shaw had the patrons’ toes tapping, and almost everyone dancing, to “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Concurrently, during “Night in the Gardens of Spain,” which was held in the lush, splendid gardens of Stephanie and Joseph Bruno on South Carrollton Avenue, the pounding thrill of flamenco had all eyes riveted on dancer Lena Jacome and husband/guitarist Chris, who hail from Phoenix. “Night” was the 2014 rendition of Sentimental Journeys, a fundraiser for the educational programs of Longue Vue House & Gardens. At 10 p.m., musicmakers The Essentials came on and rocked the revelry for hours. No one sat for “Mr. Big Shot.”
Sentimental Journeys refers to an anniversary trip taken by the late Edgar and Edith Stern, who also created the wonders of Longue Vue. Held about every year and a half, the gala presents the city’s most fabulous live auction items: deluxe trips near and afar. Golf in England (the British Open), a “Scottish Castle Fairy-Tale,” along with jaunts to Paris, Norway, Italy, Bali, Prague in the Czech Republic, and of course, Spain, lured the 2014 lucre. Bryan Batt was the celebrity auction host and Ruthie Winston, the auctioneer. As a testament to Edith Stern’s support of artists and art, SJ presented an impressive slew of silent-auction items.
Luminaries included event Co-Chairwomen Shaun Saer Duncan and Barkley Rafferty, who enjoyed lots of attendance from their families and friends (with praise for the duo’s work and dedication); honorary Chairwomen Patricia Brinson (joined by husband Vernon) and Olivia Manning, two of the 1998 chairing quartet; and an extensive B-Z committee, starting with J. Luis Banos Jr. (joined by Anne — and “winners” of the trip to Scotland) and concluding with Diane Zink. Lynne Rothschild Stern presides over the LVH&G board, which includes her immediate successor, Jon F. “Chip” Leyens Jr., and officers Carol McMichael Reese, Wayne Woods and Juan Barona. More top names were Mary Ellen Miller, who chairs the Friends of Longue Vue Volunteer Committee, and, with Kathryn, Tony L. Chauveaux, LV’s executive director. Patron headliners started with the Waring Family (in the top “Bamboo” category), and in the second tier “Pomegranate,” the above Shaun Duncan and in-attendance husband Foster, Adrea Heebe and Dominick Russo, and Catherine Burns Tremaine. IberiaBank (befitting the theme of the gala) was the headlining “Magnolia” sponsor, and The New Orleans Advocate, the media partner. Special thanks, and they were plentiful, tapped Event Resources New Orleans, and Friend & Company for the raffle’s estate pearl bracelet. A surprised and very pleased Jimmy Roddy (with Tia) was the winner.
More glorious features included the sprays of orchids and spring greenery that complemented the festive lights under the tents, as well as the gustatory pleasures. Chef Michel Sichel of Galatoire’s prepared globally inspired dishes, especially seafood paella; event partner Perrier-Jouet, the champagne; and under the “Bombones” listing for the sweet treats, Sucre (Joel Dondis and Tariq Hanna) purveyed.
The “Gardens” eye had myriad delights scoping the comely crowd that included the host couple, the above-mentioned SJ dignitaries, Dawn DeDeaux, Ty Provost, Danny and Mary Clare Conwill, Franck and Pat Labiche, Mimi and Claude Schlesinger, Joanna Sternberg, Dorothy Clyne, Katie and Shaun Rafferty, the Edmund Redds, the Hugh Uhalts, Melanee and Steve Usdin, Thomas “Tommy” Reese, and from the Waring family, patriarch Dr. Will Waring, joined by Dot Weisler, Kathleen and Ben Waring and Lexi and Will Waring. They, and countless others, responded to the handsome, Mudejar-style invitation designed by Alexa Pulitzer.
Back to the band! Whereas gala guests raved about the festive — and free-flow — format, they were ready to momentarily forsake “Gardens” for groove. The Essentials were just that for the party’s second phase, hyping the general glee with show performers and Motown momentum.
- Julia Jump!
Pre-summer simmer rallied Preservation Resource Center stalwarts to the Arbor Room, where Chris Arenas (Sainte Marie Brasserie) handcrafted specialty cocktails; a Wellington & Co.-sponsored raffle had guests beseeching Lady Luck; and 22 “wonderful” (as described by a gala principal) restaurants donated their fare. The auction items totaled more than $90,000 in value and featured jewelry, artwork, trips (including one to Antigua and The Grenadines), spa and beauty treatments, and restaurant gift certificates. A beaming Gary and Debbie Holmes brought “home” the prized Vespa Scooter.
Embellishing the premises were Summer Duperon, Alex Geriner, Tyson Geary, Jennifer Vu, Firefly Ambiance, Harold’s Plants, and Paul Norman.
Making their rounds were JJ’s VIPs, namely event Co-Chairwomen Brandy Whisnant and Marie Huete with Tom and David, honorary Chairwoman Muffin Balart with Luis, patron Chairwomen Leah Engelhardt and Carol Starr with Miller and Pierce, PRC board President Ted LeClercq with Courtney, Vice President Clyde Jacob III, Treasurer Julie Habetz with Scott, and executive director Patty Gay with George Schmidt. Bisso Towboat Co., Inc. and Fidelis Continental LLC/Mr. and Mrs. H. Elder Brown Jr. were the lead sponsors.
Also PRC prominent were former JJ Chairwomen Mandi Frischhertz (2012) and Suzanne Perlis and Kathleen Robert (2009), Stephanie and Kenneth Carroll, William and Catherine Hales, Graham Ralston, Peter Trapolin, siblings Elizabeth Kepper Brown and Elder Brown III, Randy and Kathy Opotowsky, Janie Blackmon, and scores more.
When it was time to put moves in “A Mid-City Night’s Dream,” The Wiseguys created some sagacious gyrating.