All on the same Friday night! Boys Hope Girls Hope celebrated 35 years, Lighthouse Louisiana took a social pause “for a garden party with a cause,” and Martini Madness at City Park did a benefit for bikes.
As chairwomen, Mary Beth Bourgeois and Lisa Comeaux were the bannered names for the Boys Hope Girls Hope event in the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Messina’s at The Terminal. Husbands Robert Bourgeois and Bobby Comeaux accompanied them.
To celebrate the 35th year of BHGH of New Orleans, part of a network that prepares young people to thrive in college, career and life, the School Partners were honored. Participants, known as scholars, enter a youth development and academic program that starts in middle school. Residential placement is available. Twelve School Partners open their doors to the scholars to give them an opportunity for a quality education and community fellowship. Karen DeBlieux (with Dr. Peter) spoke about the role these schools — Jesuit, St. Mary’s Dominican, Archbishop Rummel, Brother Martin and De La Salle high schools; Stuart Hall School for Boys; and Holy Name of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, Lusher Charter, and St. Anthony of Padua schools — have played in the program and in the lives of young people. Each school received an award.
Features of “Taking Flight” were numerous. There was abundant floral representation, thanks to pink and white hydrangeas and white gladiolus; vases made for the gala sat on the reserved sponsor tables with silver airplanes resting atop clouds of white hydrangeas; food came from 16 restaurants; and 11 raffle packages and seven live auction items abetted the coffers. Bidding was fast and spirited for a two-night stay at Caesar’s Palace Hotel in Vas Vegas with show tickets and a diamond necklace from Ramsey’s (purchased by Julie Ponze) and a private party at Acme Oyster House for 30 people with Harry Bruns as the purchaser.
All the while, artist Frenchy created a painting of the gala, which was auctioned off at the end of the evening. Nick Mauer now has a nice souvenir of “Taking Flight.”
Those on the social wing, and in a crowd of well over 550, were decorations Co-Chairwomen Julie Ann Connick and Charlotte Hebert, with their “auctioneer” husbands Eddie and Marc; BHGH executive director Chuck Roth; and board Chairman Sandy Duplantier with Suzie. Also, Tom and Connie Kitchen, Sally Duplantier, Lori and Mike Rodrigue, Kelley Flick Good with fiancé Lyle Moreau, Hilary and Mickey Landry, Leanne and Tommy Cvitanovich, Patricia and Ralph Cox, Kelley and Ash Abbott, and Frank and Paulette Stewart. Leanne Cvitanovich and Kelley Flick Good, along with Louise Cragin and Tina Flick, were recognized as immediate past gala chairwomen. In addition to Chairman Sandy Duplantier, Janis van Meerveld, Lewis J. Derbes Jr. and Greg F. Rouchell are officers of the current board.
As for the musical momentum, the band chosen was more than appropriate for an event that values scholarship. Play on, The Wiseguys!
Light up the Night
Prior to the actual bash, the venue rallied revelers. For days in front of the St. Charles Avenue home of Jim Ashbee and Jim Perrier, a huge banner announced the “Light up the Night” gala. Both Jims and Jane Heidingsfelder chaired the event to benefit Lighthouse Louisiana: A Century of Service. Their committee ran the gamut from A to W. That’s Suzanne Alford to Bonnie Wilson. Dozens of names figured in between.
Embellishing the showplace residence were flowers by Ambrose Garden and the lighting (in keeping with the theme) by Air-Effects/Sky Tracker. Acme Oyster House, Arnaud’s French 75, Cava, Chez Nous, Dickie Brennan & Co., Joel’s Grand Cuisine, Margo Bouanchaud Inc., Martin Wine Cellar and Rum House provided eating and drinking. All good.
The 13 live auction items focused on jewelry, art, vacations, clothing, Mitchell Gaudet glass sculpture, and at at-home dinner by Ralph Brennan Catering with all needed accessories by Perrier Party Rentals. Each major item drew at least $1,000. Travers Mackel served as the master of ceremonies and Haywood Hillyer, the DJ. The top sponsorship came from the Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation, Postlethwaite & Netterville, Arnaud’s, IberiaBank and Whitney.
Noted within the “Night” luminaries, 400 plus in number, were Lighthouse Louisiana President Renee Vidrine, board President Curtis Eustis and spouse Celeste, board members James Reiss (with Erica) and Susan Periera, artist George Dunbar and Louisette Brown, Vincent Saia and Glynn Stephens Jr., Joe and Dorothy Mann, Paul and Donna Flower, Hunter Hill, Donna and Jack Little, Fran and George Villere, Ransdell and William Prieur, Troy Scroggins, Gaines Seaman, Lamar and Michelle Villere, and Claiborne Perrilliat, who danced up a storm.
The party flow was both inside and outside the spacious home and grounds and around the swimming pool. A pleasant evening added to the overall ambiance. And for those who needed transportation at the end of “Light,” pedicabs were available, courtesy of Need a Ride Pedicabs.
Shaken and Socially Stirred
Sold out with more than 1,000 attendees, Martini Madness 2015 was chaired by Vanessa Berg, Alex Kless and Brooke Weinstein. Friends, and they came in abundant numbers, included those with a capital “F” and a lowercase one. The blast was presented by Friends of City Park and Republic National Distributing Company and offered more than 25 specialty martinis, ranging from classics to one-of-a-kind creations, as well as cuisine from more than two dozen restaurants.
All proceeds of the fundraiser, which unfolded at the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain in City Park, will benefit the new Marconi Drive bike path.
As guests strolled about, many with such taste treats as blueberry lemontinis, Double Espresso with a Kick, and creations from “Make Your Own Martini Bar,” they were embraced by red and purple lighting provided by Catalyst Event Solutions both inside and outside the Arbor Room. Someone labeled the look “a fun Martini Madness glow.” The centerpieces were donated and designed by Iris Floral and Event Design.
Going for the “green” were the five raffle packages that included two VIP passes to VooDoo Music & Arts Experience, a Lee Michaels gift card, a cruiser bike, a private wine tasting from Pearl Wine Co., and a golf lesson and evaluation.
A deejay, a photo booth with props, and Instagram frames added to the thrills.
Headliners included the above chairing troika, along with Friends of City Park board President Jackie Palumbo with husband Vincent, Mary and Keith Johnson, Tania Hahn, Leigh Morgan Thorpe, and Kathleen and Tom Smith. Also, City Park Improvement Association President Susan Hess and Bill, Jay Proskovec (PCCP Constructors), Shannon Brice (Richard’s Disposal), Chad Berg (Lee Michael’s Fine Jewelry) and Henry Kinney (Kinney, Ellinghausen, Richard & DeShazo law firm).
For three hours, the gala held forth ever so festively. But getting a jump on that revelry was “Before the Madness,” and its exclusive social hour for Friends of City Park members, who had reserved seating. However with all the “Martini” mingling, the party pack loved the momentum of movement.