Emerald Scene

“OIC Visits the Emerald City” titled the annual ball and debutante cotillion of the Original Illinois Club Inc., mingling Oz and “aahs.”

All were charmed by Miss Asia Monet Wilson-Reid, daughter and stepdaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Aviers Reid. She was resplendent in a white tulle gown by French designer Celine. It was fashioned with a corset-finish bodice embellished with Swarovski crystals and intricate hand embroidery, and a beaded, voluminous skirt. A family heirloom diamond necklace, previously worn by her stepmother, Denise Tartt-Reid, as an OIC first maid in 1984, and a scepter held by her step-grandfather, Maj. Harry Tartt, U.S. Army retired, as King Illinois in 1997, were sentimental touches.

Queen Illinois Asia and King Illinois 2016 E.J. Roberts wore matching custom crowns of Swarovski crystals with a silver finish. John Rhineholdt created them.

Miss Constance Janae-Forges, daughter of Mrs. James H. Forges Jr. (Shelita Selico-Forges) and the late Mr. Forges, was the Royal Court debutante maid to the queen. Six young women — Misses Ashley Marie August, Ariel Rochelle Goudeau, Malonda Maxine McElwee, Rekaila Jhanaye Richards, Paige Angele Roberts, and Corinne Ashley Williams — were the Royal Court debutantes. Included as Royal Court pages and heralds were Cade M. Alphonse, Sheldon M. Bruno Jr., Cole M. Alphonse, Kayden Sterling, Jekiyra L. Holloway, Kamryn A. Kirkwood, Lilliefaye L. Trahan, and Kensleigh A. Redmond.

Last year, the royals were Miss Taylor Renee Harris, daughter of Mr. Andrew P. Harris and Ms. Crishelle McConduit-Hoffman, and Mr. John M. Blanchard.

King Illinois 2016 also answered to club president at the ball, which was held at the John M. Alario Center in Westwego. Messrs. Mark V. Joseph Sr. and H. Kenneth Johnston (a former King Illinois), were the respective ball captain and debutante chairmen. The 2016 membership roster — many assisting at the ball, and quite a few, former kings — included Messrs. Roberts, Joseph and Johnston, as well as Messrs. Rick O. Amos, John M. Blanchard, J. Harold Boucree, Lynn J. Dedeaux, Walter L. Dixon, Andrew J. Douglas, Christopher L. Hammond, Mack B. Harris, Thomas J. Hutcherson Sr., Anthony F. Maheia, Herbert J. McCullum Sr., Robert R. Newsome Sr. (Dr.), Ulric Y. Pryce, Reginald D. Rigsby (Dr.), Richard A. Theodore, William J. Washington, and Cedric F. Webb Sr.

The “Emerald City” theme was given a Crescent City twist at OIC’s 115th annual Carnival ball. High school student Dorothy, who aspired to make her debut with the club, was scooped up by wind and placed in an unfamiliar location. As she tried to return home, she was accompanied by characters (portrayed by Melody Newsome, Rick O. Amos, Christopher Hammond, and Walter L. Dixon) who were also seeking favors from the powerful Wiz. Blaine Kern Jr. did the ball’s decorations, The throne room was done in emerald green and gold drapery with a mansion scene (home of the Wiz) in the backdrop, plants and palms. Mardi Gras colors figured in the table decorations with thanks to Mississippians Mr. and Mrs. Dedeaux. Quite a few attendees came in from elsewhere.

Noted were U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, Mississippi state Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, St. John the Baptist President Natalie Robottom, and 106-year-old Amelia Hendricks, a former OIC debutante, and niece Sandra Peychaud. Also, royal grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Reid, Andrew P. Harris, the Alonzo Clayborns, the Douglas Crichfields, Warren and Maxine Conway, Allan and Terri Rohr, the Dennis Renears, the Huiet Josephs, and Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Llorens.

Among the special features of the evening were recognition of in-attendance widows of OIC members and of the deceased members; lighting of the OIC crest; music by the Leroy Pero Orchestra; the appearance of the royal court of 2015 and, with much fanfare and “All hail” resounding, that of 2016; gifts, recognitions and additional presentations; and, in conclusion, the royal toast and promenade. Many ladies caught the eye in their OIC finery, such as Asia’s stepmother, Denise Tartt-Reid, who wore a Dior evening gown of Battenburg lace with embellishment of beads and pearls.

At midnight, the curtain fell and the ball was over. But the memories were just starting. Just prior to this gala evening, Asia said she was “humbled to be chosen to reign as Queen Illinois 2016,” expressing further that she hoped to make her parents and the organization proud of her and her academic accomplishments. Indeed, they, and all in attendance, were happy for her. And proud.

They All Masked for You

Before the ball at the Alario Center, Miss Asia Monet Wilson-Reid, was the sure cynosure at “Asia’s Masquerade,” a party given in her honor by her parents, at LaBelle Place in LaPlace. The invitation, one of the prettiest of the season (with lovely “lace” flaps that opened to reveal party information), requested “long, formal gowns” for the ladies and for the gentlemen, “black tuxedos.”

Program principals included Yolanda Grinstead, Rick O. Amos as master of ceremonies, the Rev. Erin Beasley, OIC President E. J. Roberts, Cynthia Reid Arceneaux, H. Kenneth Johnston, singer Asia Nelson, Debra Burris, Gemyra Rocket, Nicole Roberts, Shirrelle Gordon, Abraham Anthony, Melanie Willoughby, Brianna Carter, Tracie Thomas, Lucien Gauff, and her stepmother, Denise, for a special tribute, “The many faces of Asia.” Sponsor Anthony F. “Tony” Maheia called for a toast to the honoree. Senior and junior hostesses assisted, as did the gift bearers and peer escorts. Darryl Jefferson was the musician.

For Asia’s Waltz, the honoree and her father, Aviers Reid, took to the floor. She next danced with her grandfather, peer escorts, and her sponsor. The OIC debutantes later joined in with peer escorts and OIC members, who then took a turn with their ladies. Mr. Reid made his remarks to his beaming daughter and the Rev. Beasley closed with a benediction. Dining and dancing followed in an atmosphere of delights.

City of Light

“An Original Illinois Club Debutante in Paris” limelighted Miss Constance Janae Forges, daughter of Shelita Lynn Selico-Forges and the late Mr. James Herbert Forges Jr. English Turn Country Club was the site for the bash “infused with the magic of a Parisian winter night.”

The overall décor featured crystal lanterns, silver snowflakes, rhinestone branches, white and silver hanging orbs, balloons, lights, sequin table overlays, and feather and rhinestone Eiffel Tower accents.

Oversize snow-covered birch branches, white hydrangeas, and white tulips in tall glass vases made the lovely floral statement.

To receive, honoree Constance donned a coral-colored, Vera Wang design. For her presentation, she wore a white Cherri Hill gown. Her mother chose Rachel Zoe as the designer for her lovely look and deb grandmother Constance Marriott Selico, an evening suit by St. John.

Among the many complimenting Constance and her mother were OIC President and Mrs. E.J. Roberts, OIC sponsor and Mrs. Anthony Maheia, ball Chairman and Mrs. H. Kenneth Johnston, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre, Tammi Griffin-Major, deb brothers James H. Forges III (for the special toast to Constance) and Jonathan Pierre Forges, party planner Jill Selico, Judge E. Teena Anderson-Trahan, Roselyn Anderson Honore, Tracey Ruffin, Alex Selico-Dunn Sr., Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Sanders, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Julius, Dr. Janelle Perez, the Rev. Frank Delaney, Gigi Mayfield, and the Ricardo Owsleys.

Cynthia Blutcher opened the formal presentation with a welcome. Some of the above then participated, as did Stanley W. Crosby, Zeta Gabriel, and Chosen Liturgical Praise Dancers. Constance first waltzed with brother Jonathan Pierre and then Tony Maheia. Subsequent waltzes followed before the closing remarks by debutante mother Shelita.

General dancing, with music by 4 X 4 Connection, and refreshments soon encompassed the many guests.

As with OIC queen Asia, debutante maid to the queen Constance will have a virtual treasury of memories of glorious parties and the thrills of the ball, where their brilliance complemented that of the “Emerald City.”