Play ball! And ball play! And so it was when seven debutantes and their legions of fans (family and friends) opted for pigskin partying. “Summer Tailgate” bannered the blast that coursed four hours at Kingsley House and focused on football. The touted teams? LSU and Ole Miss. As guests entered, they picked one of two round stickers to wear with the honorees’ names in a circle surrounding a small tent. Purple writing was for LSU and red, Ole Miss. Passed out, too, were school pompoms and lighted “glo” necklaces.
Maggie Agnew of MCA Studios quarterbacked the invitation design, a pop-up one that included the Line Up: debs Mary Acomb, Catie Barry, Madison Mikes, Keil Senter, Virginia Stewart, Mary Catherine Toso and Madden Wilbert. All seven wore white. The Coaching Staff, their hosting parents, included Judy and Ryan Acomb, Mendy and Michael Barry, Celeste and Steven Mikes, Karen and Reid Senter, Ann and Gordon Stewart, Monique and Michael Toso, and Kathleen and Jim Wilbert.
To set the tailgate tone, the party entrance abounded in LSU purple and gold and Ole Miss blue and red drapery. Further decorative touches were the white tents covered with school-covered draping, lighted floral centerpieces with pendants, and colored stadium cups and koozies in the featured colors with the party’s logo. Two huge screens, which flanked the stage, played LSU/Ole Miss highlights of football footage.
Kingsley House, founded in 1986 – LSU dates to 1860 and Ole Miss to 1848 – was an ideal location for this expansive event. The gym, with its exposed bricks, and the grassy courtyard, with beautiful oaks, formed a perfect backdrop to the theme.
Acombs cavorting included Mary’s siblings Ryan, Catherine and Elizabeth with fiancé Billy Crosby, along with deb grandparents Joe and Beverly Dalton, Greta Acomb, members of the Dwight Acomb family, Howell and Katie Crosby, Tac and Caroline Crosby, Amy and Van Vanderburgh, Ashley LeBlanc, Dwight LeBlanc, Hank and Gina Arnold, Jim and Claudia Nelson, Jimmy and Marguerite Kock, and Amy and Tom Hamrick.
Within the Barry brigade were Catie’s sister and brother-in-law Megan and David Kepper, brother Owen Barry with Hobson Feltus, grandparents Corinne and Bill Barry, Elise Connolly, Michael McFerrin Jr. with Betsy North, Karen and Billy Barry, Mimi and Tom Richard with son Philip, Peggy and Richard Bailey, Jamie Agnew and family, Leslie and Snappy Jacobs, Ruth and Ricky Blum, Stephanie and Logan Hardie, and a Girault threesome in Evelyn and Johnny and Anne Bailey.
All made tracks to the small food tents, which had custom LSU and Ole Miss cut-outs and coordinated chromatics. Pigeon was the caterer for such goodies as boudin balls, herb crepe roulades, gourmet grilled cheese treats, and crab cakes. Sweetdaddy’s of Covington set up a cochon de lait; The Dog House did hot dogs and nachos; and Joan Farrell Mathis and Jane Abide created the respective thematic cookies and brownies. “Meat cute” it was for the late-night little sliders.
Mingling with Madison Mikes were her siblings, Alison and Kelemen; four grandparents in Joan and Gunther Michaelis and Eva and Joseph Mikes; and Kristi and Erik Johnsen, Adele and Graham Ralston, Laura and Benton Vickery, Christopher Michaelis, Britt Johnson, Alex Porter, Suzanne Bagwill and Claude Kohler, Marianne and Mark Spangenberg, Kenny and Sheryl Taylor, Julie and Travis Tresca, and Dianne and Jim McBride.
Joined by girlfriend Rachel Thompson, Bobby Senter partied with sister Keil Senter. So did Anna Richardson, Ellyn Livings, Anna Lee, Leigh Davis, Anna Johnson, Ansley Pavloff, Mary Hall, Nicole Glass, Mary Beth Scott, Abby Lawson, Claire Heinlein, and Caroline Land.
Stewart socializers included a trio of deb sisters in Maggie, Elaine with Ben Bullock, and Sarah and fiance Richard Robertson, along with grandparents Pat and Lee Mason. Others close to co-honoree Virginia were Jill and Roger Jenkins, Cindy and Kirk Williamson, Puddy and Jim Robinson, Elinor and Dan Dorsey, Cindy and Mike Harlan, Melody Barousse, Kelly and Mason Rudolph, Lee and Kenneth de la Houssaye, Priscilla and Barry Morse, and Suzy and Steven Neal.
All seven hosting families had mutual friends, making the partyscape extensive and ever so lively.
Another one of the myriad attractions was the Game Day Desk made by Judy Acomb, which allowed guests to sit and take photos. Helmets were the appropriate accessory. A huge backdrop of all seven debutantes in the game day crowd was the background.
Taking in these sites – and sights – was the Toso throng, which consisted of deb sister Elizabeth Colon Toso, grandparents Patricia and Michael “Mike” Toso and Jeanne Colon Marinello, Adrian A. Colon Jr., Angelle and James Adams, Shannon and Byron Adams, Dorinda C. Bordlee, Erin and Gerard Plauche, Indie and Donald McKay, and, all surnamed Toso, Susie and Brien, Peggy and Keith, Mary, and David.
Hundreds within the party pack queued up for the photo booth with LSU and Ole Miss-inspired props; played tailgate games outside; delighted in the fight songs, cheers and visits by mascots; and got drinks from bartenders, who sported referee shirts.
Mary-Margaret Budzius and husband Cameron were social cheerleaders for her sister, deb Madden. So were Lorraine and Dr. Chuck Cucchiara, Tommy Mitchell, Shelly and John Ellinghausen, Nancy and Jerry Plough, H.J. Platt, Raye and Mark Latham, Chuck Walsten and Yvette Monju, Lynn and Stephen Schonberg, Lynn and Arthur Mann, Lori and Kevin Frischhertz, Dr. David Sumrall, Pat and Henry Schonberg, and Mimi and John Farrell.
Designers worn by the hosting moms and honorees were Alice and Olivia, Halston Heritage, Lilly Pulitzer, DéJàVu, French Connection, Karl Lagerfeld, BCBG, Ralph Lauren, Jay Godfrey, and Eliza J.
As for the musical momentum scored by Four UnPlugged (from Covington), it enlivened the crowd for hours. A choice moment occurred when the seven debutantes danced with their dads to “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” Around 10:20 p.m. and as the honorees hopped up on the stage with the band, a cry went out: “Are you ready?” Everyone was aligned, cheering and gyrating to the music, and reveling in “Tailgate”’s party touchdown.