Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Martinis

True Blue

After a welcome by master of ceremonies Mark Romig and St. Michael Special School Principal/President Tish Sauerhoff, Scott and Robyn Guidry stepped forward as the chaircouple of the annual Blue Rose Ball, which unfolded in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Then came the invocation by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, the gourmet dinner, dessert, the announcement of the three raffle winners (Christina Lott, Kristina Fitzpatrick, Joanna Roy) and the closing of the 22-item silent auction. The exciting live auction spotlighted for bids a mink coat donated by Adele Uddo, an autographed Steve Gleason jersey and a Krewe of Orpheus 2018 package for two. Respective purchasers were Gary and Martha Solomon, Michael and Sidney Favoloro, and Dianne Walet.

Throughout, gratitude tapped hundreds of givers, especially the Blue Roses sponsors: Angel Wings Foundation, The Guidry Retirement Group of Wells Fargo Advisors and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. The annual fundraiser provides ministry to both students and their families at St. Michael Special School. There are 204 students from diverse backgrounds and, for 2017-18, the 27 new ones mark the highest admission since Hurricane Katrina. Tuition covers less than 50 percent of per capita cost to educate each student or client at St. Michael, whose mission is “to provide a Catholic environment where students with special educational needs are able to grow in faith and reach their full potential academically, socially and physically.” Co-chairman Scott’s daughter, Abby, attends St. Michael in the Vocational Training Department.

Mardi Gras Productions did the impressive decorations using such touches as silver crinkle tablecloths and centerpieces created for the event. They incorporated blue roses with a modern flair, white hydrangeas, and white stock. Blue uplighting bathed the ballroom. Designed by Theia, Robyn’s dress (as well as that of Tish) furthered the blue chromatics with a nod to navy.

Within the gala gathering of 620 were Kevin and Nancy Colomb; Jackie Cutrone with daughters Jackie Smart, Kitty McMichael, Lee Cutrone and Candace Cutrone; Mark and Sharon Rodi; the Rev. Ronald Calkins; the Rev. Kurt Young; and Leon and RaeNelle Houston, Ph.D. She answers to superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. And, Henry and Georgine Bienert, David and Jeanne Gallo, Sam Mickal Solomon, Joe and Debbie Excinios, Lynne Burkart, Gregg and Shari Barrios, Bob and Brenda Breck, Capt. Patrick and Ashlynne Duvernay, 2016 gala Chaircouple Norman and Rachelle Myers Albright, and Chris and MaeBelle Maurin, parents of student MaeBelle. Mom MaeBelle (as did some of the above) served on the committee of dozens.

Dat Band did double time, bringing their photo booth, called Dat Booth, and luring the crowd to the dance floor as the Dat Band music makers.

Bottoms up for Popp

The sold-out Martini Madness (1,200 attendees) raised money for the restoration of Popp Bandstand in City Park, where it was appropriately held in the nearby Arbor Room. Kim Payne Allen, Mackenzie Morris Hill and Sally Boyce Rinehart chaired the merriment that featured savory delectables from more than 25 restaurants and 30 different martinis. For the latter, Martini Madness partnered with Republic National Distributing Co., producing such creations as French Martini, Blackberry Mint Martini and “Make Your Own” at a martini bar. A first-time Beer Garden allowed six local breweries to serve tastings of their crafted beers.

Additional features were the centerpieces of orchids donated and designed by Iris Floral and Event Design, along with the Catalyst Event Solutions’ red and purple lighting outside and in the Arbor Room for a vibrant Martini Madness glow. A half dozen raffle packages and a Kendra Scott jewelry pull added more excitement.

From Friends of City Park, which hosted Martini Madness, were Jackie Palumbo with Vincent, Mary Johnson with Keith, Adam McNeil with Collette, Kathleen Smith with Tom, Larry Dale with Connie and Jason Villemarette with Nicole. They, in turn, mingled with such in-attendance donors and sponsors as Shannon Brice, Morgan Lee and William Bryan, Joshua Alarcon, Sissy Blewster, Malinda Hill, Corey Moll, Meghann Holland, Michelle and Brian Barkemeyer, Suzy Rivera and Margy Rivera, Nicole Chauvin and Billy Slaughter, Kim Sayatovic, Tom Mabon, and Mike Hollis and husband Marty Brantley.

Entertainment was abundant and varied. A keyboard player was featured in the Beer Garden, where lawn games and lounge-area furniture added a sense of caper and coziness; a photo booth with props created amusing party souvenirs; and a DJ got the groove going.

A Three-decades Salute

Held in the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO, by which it is known) celebrated 30 years of economic development successes. The 380 guests arrived to a red carpet. Once within, they admired the decorations of silver and gold glass votives that adorned the cocktail tables covered with black linens. Abstract Productions provided the accent lighting throughout the venue, such as the projection of JEDCO’s logo onto the wall space in the bar area. A focal point was the ice sculpture in the shape of the logo provided by Messina’s Catering and Events, which did all the myriad tasty treats, including a dessert station. Of course, the rotating photos from JEDCO’s past created a conversational buzz.

Jerry Bologna (with Melissa), JEDCO’s president and CEO, addressed the crowd with brief comments, expressing its vital and impactful role in the Jefferson business community, as well as gratitude to regional business leaders, civic and elected officials, and partners. Further notables were Parish President Michael Yenni with Michelle, interim Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto with Lauren, Henry and Pat Shane, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken and spouse Stephen Dwyer, UNO President John Nicklow and Stacy, JEDCO Chairman Bruce Layburn and Sherri, Nick Karl of Peoples Health, Delgado Community College Chancellor Joan Davis, state Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, Jack Stumpf, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce President Todd Murphy, Jay Lapeyre, Lee Giorgio and Melanie Cannatella, and Councilmen Ricky Templet, Paul Johnson, and Jack Rizzuto. They formed an impressive who’s who.

For three hours, The Benchwarmers played, regaling the crowd with “classic’ Crescent City R&B, Atlantic Soul, Motown, and rock & roll. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and even the band’s name belied the desire of the many, who wanted to get up and shake a leg to the lively sounds.