Roles for Revelry

Salute to Service

The National WWII Museum held its Victory Ball: Salute to Service — presented by Ray and Jessica Brandt Family Foundation — to honor veterans and active-duty service members. A 6 p.m. sponsor and patron party took place in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and music by The Tumbling Wheels. Outside entertainment came from the museum’s Victory Swing Orchestra (with sounds from the 1940s) and a service salute by the Victory Belles.

An hour later, the ball itself beckoned with people gathering both at the pavilion and Founders Plaza. Access to museum galleries was a bonus. Formatted as a reception-style event, Victory Ball had a number of food stations provided by The American Sector Restaurant + Bar. Crispy-fried oysters with pepper jelly were among the delish appetizers, while heartier fare came from the charcuterie and artisan cheese display, a steamship of wagyu beef, chicken Pontalba, and goat cheese roasted tomato ravioli. Specialty cocktails represented each branch of the service, including “the Rocket Fuel” served in the Latter & Blum Air Force Base and the “Maritime Mule” in the Edward C. Mathes Navy Base.

To set the patriotic mood, Event Rental provided burgundy and navy blue silk linens for the tables, while Plant Gallery did the centerpieces of mint julep cups with American flags, white hydrangeas and roses.

The ball’s honorary chairman was retired Col. Jay R. Vargas, USMC, who received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that an individual serving in the armed forces of the U.S. can merit. In 1968, from April 30 to May 2, Vargas led his men out of a harrowing situation in a village in Vietnam.

Additional headliners in the crowd of 600-plus were new museum President and CEO Stephen J. Watson and spouse Gina, founding President and CEO Emeritus Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, Ph.D., and Beth, Victory Ball Presenting Sponsors Ray and Jessica Brandt, WWII veteran museum and board Vice Chairman Paul Hilliard and Madlyn, and patron party sponsors Gayle Higgins Jones and Victoria Vosbein McCooey, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Higgins, the founder and owner of Higgins Industries, which made the famous Higgins boats used in WWII. Still others in the Victory Ball brigade were Bill and Maureen Detweiler, and event Co-Chairmen Pam Davis Friedler, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez and Marshal Hevron. Some of their buzz was about the National WWII’s ranking by TripAdvisor as the number two museum in the world and in America.

Dancing capped the activity thanks to DJ Ann Glaviano, who spun a gamut of sounds to set the balance of the night to music.

Tony! Toni! Tone!

Xavier University of Louisiana presented its annual Benefit Concert featuring Toni! Toni! Tone! (the Tonys) with comedian Lavar Walker, a Xavier alumnus. This occurred on campus during the Alumni Homecoming schedule of events and was preceded by a patron party. Net proceeds generated by the annual concert series fund student scholarships and other student-related programs.

The second-level concourse atrium of XULA Convocation was transformed into a nightclub setting via colorful lighting and numerous floral arrangements, along with a bar, high chairs and tables. For the music making, the Xavier University Jazz Band was tapped.

Recognition was extensive, especially to the nine Trustee Level Sponsors (the top category), the Patron Level ones, the food and beverage sponsors, and such notables as Ray Manning (Manning Architects; Mark Boucree, Capital One; Rod Teamer, Blue Cross Blue Shield; John Agnelly, Siemens; Jason Crumb, Crumb Engineering; Katrice Albert, NCAA; and retired Rear Adm. Stephen Rochon, an alumnus.

Alumna Gia Soublet, vice president for institutional advancement, opened the program. Then came remarks by Miss Xavier 2017-18 Shalani Taylor, and Student Government Association President Bryan Redmond’s introduction of Lavar Walker, who then commanded the stage. Before the Tonys performed their classic musical hits, university President Dr. Reynold Verret presented the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards to Dr. Katrice Albert, Dr. Lisa Gibson-McKee and Mr. Randy McKee, and Dr. Rosalind Pijeaux Hale. Praise abounded.

“Unity Through Diversity”

Such is the slogan of the Asian Pacific American Society, which held its fundraising gala in the Hyatt Regency Hotel to further the purpose of enhancing education, ethnic pride and the promotion of better relations within the larger community. The society’s officers on the executive committee are Chairwoman Thuy Vu (Vietnam), first and second Vice Chairmen Greg Tokuyama (Japan) and Narindar Singh (Malayasia), and Secretary Ana Chea (Cambodia). Spouse Leap Veng Chea joined her.

Highlights of the gala were many, including the menu of barbecued chicken and the chocolate dessert medley. For the entertainment, dances were performed by Ziying “Alice” He (the Chinese “Mongolian Peacock” number), Theresa Quynh Nhi Nguyen and Group (“Vietnam Fan & Hat”), Cuilan Li (China’s “Picking Roses”), and the Indonesian Dance group. Always a choice moment, the recognition of the Frank Hara Community Service Recipients limelighted Ana Chea, George Chin (China), Charlotte Lawson (Japan), Anastasia “Jackie” Block (Indonesia), Dr. Manjong Han (Korea), Rosario Dalida Abad (Philippines), Tung-Sung Tseng (Taiwan) and Ky-Son Vuong (Vietnam).

Raj Pannu, gala chairwoman, extended the welcome and introduced the “anchor” emcees WWL-TV’s Thanh Truong (with Anna) and WDSU’s Sula Kim. All the while, an auction beckoned, chaired by Jessie Kaur (with daughter Bhindhyaa). The Ms. APAS candidates generated a lot of excitement, thanks to Ms. Cambodia Karen Tep, Ms. China Ziying “Alice” He, Ms. Indonesia Sopia Herlina Saudeinuk (the winner and joined by husband Parker Davies), Ms. Korea Janice Oh (first runner-up), Ms. Philippines Christine Foto (second runner up), Ms. Taiwan Annie Huang, and Ms. Vietnam Theresa Nguyen. Monica Copping was the 2016 Ms. APAS.

Among the high-profilers in the 275-person pack were Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng and mom Lai (Mrs. Harry) Lee, Sheriff Marlin and Renee Gusman, Dr. Nana Yuliana of the Consulate General of Indonesia in Houston and son Muhammad Shandy Aussie, Philippines honorary Consul Robert Romero and Lita, Pat Lee Ellzey and Dr. Will, Melissa and George Huang, Vatsana Chanthala from Laos, and Nga Nguyen from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

After the auction closed, there was dancing. The floor opened for general dancing and then the Ballroom Dance Competition began.