Three recent gala events linked levity and largesse, as well as the Vieux Carre. The Historic Houses Society rounded up guests at the Uptown home of Deirdre and Christian Hooper in support of the society’s house museums in the Vieux Carre; the March of Dime’s “Purple Party with a Purpose” booked the Riverview Room on Decatur Street; and the French Quarter Citizens Inc. held its “Progressive Dining Experience for the Heart of the French Quarter” in three different homes, concluding with a grand finale in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. Tom and Gayle Benson were the honorary chaircouple.
“Our historic properties have become thriving community anchors and cultural centers” wrote Erica and James Reiss and Sheridan and Liam Grace about the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses in anticipation of the annual Historic Houses Society’s Fall Gala, which the two couples chaired. The Hooper home-located event was given by the Board of Managers of The Woman’s Exchange, the house museums’ owner and operator, to thank the society’s Leadership Circle. Money raised from the gala funds the Historic Houses’ education programs.
Party cuisine came from Ralph Brennan Catering and Events and kicked up culinarily with passed hors d’oeuvres. Then came the main courses, such as chargrilled oysters, and the desserts. Chocolate mousse crunch was a distinct hit.
Dunn and Sonnier did the lovely flowers and Carl Leblanc, David Hansen and the Garden District Trio, the tasteful music making.
Along with the much-thanked Graces and Reisses — James Reiss is a Hermann family descendant — were HGGHH board President Caroline Ferguson with Dr. Buck Taylor; executive director Mamie Gasperecz with husband Kirk; emeritae board members Susan Gundlach with husband Jimmy and daughter Susu Stall with Andrew, and Kay Favrot with daughter Kathleen Van Horn; and new board members Tavi Jones with Corky, Virginia Rowan, and Betsey Todd with Dr. Andrew.
Also, Sue Balmer with daughter Carolyn, Lynn and Beau Box, Beth and Bobby Hassinger with Cathy Drennan and Pierce Young, and from the families of the chaircouples, Ransdell and William Prieur, Pixie and Jimmy Reiss, Anne and Bill Grace, Robert Grace. Host Christian’s mom, Joan Hooper, made rounds with husband Julian Feibelman, as did his brother and sister-in-law, Andre and Kristen Hooper. All teamed to support the HHS and its role as a driving force to keep the house museums alive and vital for all to enjoy.
“Please join us for a Purple Party with a Purpose” beckoned forces of the March of Dimes for its Signature Chefs’ Auction. One of the city’s most thrilling venues, the Riverview Room overlooking the Mississippi River, was the site for the bites.
Huzzahs to chefs Eric Damidot, Kristen Essig, Justin Kennedy, Carlos Lainez, Brock Miller, Eric Perkins (of the host location, the Riverview Room), Mark Quitney, Mike Regua, Brett Sutton, Martha Wiggins and Sarah Wood. They cooked up a fabulous array of palate pleasers.
In addition to the wining and dining, guests “grazed” the selection of 48 silent auction items and turned an attentive ear to the eight live ones touted by auctioneer Kevin Troutt. More aural excitement came via Robin Barnes, “The Songbird of New Orleans.” Once again, and reaping thanks as mistress of ceremonies, was Camille Whitworth of WDSU.
Headliners included event Chairman Dr. Geoffrey Fraiche; State of Louisiana Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Rebekah Gee, recognized as Champion of Healthy Pregnancies and Prematurity Prevention; and the Ambassador Family, Anne and Joe Cutler and toddler son Beau, who was born prematurely.
Ashley Brulet, Linda Brulet, Michelle Burtch, Alice Cryer-Sumler, Ph.D., Kris Gabik, KaTrina Griffin, Dr. Heather Kahn, Sara Kavanaugh, Janine McKown, Megan McKown, Dr. Kristie Mumphrey, Nicole Surcouf, Gene Todaro, Leonetta Terrell, Dr. Jane Miller and Karen Villavaso, March of Dimes New Orleans Division board chairwoman, served on the committee. Most all attended.
Mingling, as well, were William J. “Bill” and Charlotte Burnell, Walt Navoy, Denton Copeland, Bart Kelly, Dr. Geoffrey Gillen and Robert Brown. Some came from the New Orleans Board of Directors and others, the Louisiana Chapter.
A tout to the March of Dimes staff, as well, in its work for “A fighting chance for every baby.” The Greater New Orleans Division director is the infanticipating Katherine Olivard. Others are Dara Guedry, Jennifer Simon, Frankie Robertson, Melissa Hayes and Makesha Judson.
As for the décor, it followed the title of the bash. It was decidedly Purple Party-themed with floral centerpieces by Brittney Ray Florist.
Considered the French Quarter Citizens’ signature event, the “Progressive Dining Experience” hailed 19 years of supporting French Quarter preservation. The most recent Progressive Dinner celebrated “the Heart of the Vieux Carre — our culture, lifestyle, cuisine, art, and music.” Opening their handsome homes, the “Appetizer Houses,” were Bev and John Muraglia, Stephanie and Joe Bruno and Juliet and Tim Laughlin. Pianist Colin Provensal, harpist Sarah E. Burke and guitarist Michael Desmond entertained as the peripatetic guests enjoyed the fare of Salon by Sucre by Joel, Mandina’s, and Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant.
Then it was on to the Bourbon Orleans with more fine dining, live and silent auctions, dancing to Phillip Manuel’s jazz ensemble, and presentations to the honorary Chaircouple, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Benson, recipients of the FQC award, “for their ongoing contributions to the historic culture of New Orleans and their passionate efforts to sustain the unique character of the Vieux Carre.”
Dr. Norman Francis was recognized as well for his 47 years as president of Xavier University.
Additional notables were PDE Co-Chairmen Rene J.L. Fransen and Mason Harrison, FQC board President Susan Guillot with Albin, Vice President Rodney Villarreal with partner Charles Garber, Treasurer Gary Wheat with partner Craig Guidry, executive director Carol Gniady, Gail Cavett, Chad Pellerin, Rob White and wife Kathleen Metzgar, Glade Bilby and wife Michele Zembo, and past presidents CoCo Garrett, Fran Flurry and Carol Greve.
And, Bourbon Orleans general manager Mark Wilson, New Orleans Hotel Collection area general manager Craig Hulford, Alvin Albe Jr. and Virginia Boulet with Alvin Albe Sr., and Yelva Able, Ruth Boulet, Melanie Boulet and Guenter Bischoff, Frank and Lina Reeg, Bill Kerns, Edward C. Bonin (with the above Rene), Bonnye Pardo, Dorian and Kell Bennett, Matilda Stream, John E. Wade II, Rise Delmar Ochsner, Jim Blanchard, Susan Hess, Cheryl Teamer, Luca Falcone, and artists Freddie Guess, Frances Swigart-Steg, Sherry Haydel and Hernan Caro with spouse Amalia.
Dozens more filled the repast ranks, such as Matilde Alberny and Gustavo Duque, Ruth and Laney Chouest, Patricia Meadowcroft, Meg Lousteau, Sandra Stokes, Peter Trapolin, Brittany Mulla, Melissa Gibbs, Marla Donovan, Lynne and Hugh Uhalt and C.J. Blanda, for an evening when party, plaudits and preservation blended.
Around and about
Two other Vieux Carre activities amassed many. “Unveiling on Royal Street” at Valobra Jewelry and Antiques was the rally “to unveil the 2016 one-of-a-kind Valobra-designed raffle item for Children’s Hospital’s annual Sugarplum Ball.”
Business casual was the attire for the crowd that enjoyed champagne and wine and passed “delicious delights.” Teamed for the “Unveiling” ado were Kim and state Rep. Neil C. Abramson, Mary Clare and Daniel O. Conwill, Virginia and Dr. John Ernst, and Dr. Mary and Robert Smith Lupo.
Later, and a block away on Royal Street in the Louisiana Supreme Court building’s Fourth Circuit Courtroom, the Honorable Judges of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit State of Louisiana, hosted an En Banc Ceremony to honor the retirement of Danielle Schott, clerk of court, Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit.
Post recognition, all gathered for a reception.