French Quarter Bunch
Thanks to the eye-catching invitation designed by folk artist Simon (surnamed Hardevald), the tone was set for midday merriment honoring a trio of debutantes. Tableau restaurant was the site and brunch the attraction.
Of course, the major attraction was the set of honorees, Hailey Simmons Becker, Bryn Ellen McFadden and Rosemary Conrad Turner, and their hosting parents, Walter and Laurie Becker, Mike and Jennifer McFadden, and John and Mary Turner. White dresses of their choosing bedecked the moms and the debs (who tucked gardenias in their hair), while the dads wore seersucker suits and Vineyard Vines neckties that subtly acknowledged their daughters’ colleges.
“The French Quarter and Tableau provided the perfect backdrop for a Sunday brunch,” remarked mom Laurie Becker. In addition to the décor of the restaurant, the hosts added about a dozen Simon artworks, one of which was the painting for the invitation. It and second-line handkerchiefs were displayed on the balcony railing, flanked by garlands of magnolia leaves, flowers and second-line umbrellas. Crescent City ambiance was decidedly to the fore.
Floral continuity continued in the courtyard’s fountain in the form of a magnificent “fountain of flowers” created by Diane Mouton of Fat Cat Flowers. Tall vases of similar flowers were placed throughout the venue’s two floors.
Milling about the party premises were numerous friends of the three families with many overlaps. Within the Becker brigade were deb sister Lindsey, Jimmy and Karen Baldwin, Peter and Martha McEnery, Gary and Cathy Brewster, Jimmy and Marguerite Kock, Tommy and Linda Westfeldt, Michael and Aimee Bell, Bill and C.C. Langenstein, Noel and Maria Johnson, Colleen (Mrs. Don) Frampton, Jay and Andree Batt, Pierre and Linda Conner, Chip and Laura Brooks, Jeff and Sarah Meckstroth, Karl and Lisa Hoefer, Blair and Lydia Scanlon, Dennis and Pam Waldron, and Will and Suzanne Perron St. Paul.
As on-site hosts and party guests Dickie Brennan and George and Lauren Brennan Brower rated special thanks, especially for the Tableau jazz band hats that siblings Lauren and Dickie gave to the debs with their names monogrammed on them. More second-line assets!
Mingling with the McFaddens (and all the others) were Bryn’s brother Cal and sisters Heather and Jen — the latter two with husbands Dan Lewarchik and Mark Pizzella, and grandfather Dr. David James. Also, Bayonne White, Brooks and Colleen Emory, Brent and Marion Butcher, Michael Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Freyman, Jimmy Reiss, John and Mary Lou Ochsner, Lock and Lori Ochsner, Frank Ochsner, Chip and Elizabeth Goodyear, Molly and Pat Leaumont, Charlie and Jan Walker, and Joe and Donna Maselli.
All the while, brunch fare beckoned. Passed hors d’oeuvres including Crab and Artichoke Trist (the maiden name of Dickie and Lauren’s mother, Lynne Brennan); food stations with Eggs Benedict, salad and seafood; and passed desserts such as the popular macaroons and creme brulee bites fed the “French Quarter” flock.
The musical menu was just as extensive, thanks to banjo player Clive Wilson and an Original Camellia Jazz Band sousaphonist, as well as Betty Winn and One A-Chord Gospel Singers, all for the first hour. Then came the Original Camellia Jazz Band (in the courtyard) and Jay-Ray and Gee Trio upstairs for a cappella excitement.
Tuning in with the Turners were deb siblings Janie, Greer and John Jr., along with Ed and Marilyn Pointer, Rob and Cassie Worley, Robbie and Katherine Saer, Thomas and Wendy Beron, Merritt and Elly Lane, Charlie and Reecee Lanier, Robert and Patti Lapeyre, Nedra Stephens, Nedra Toulmin Crosby, Julianna Stimpson, Ellie Stimpson, Edgar and Ashley Bright, John and Boo Kallenborn, Ashley McCoy, Jim and Stephanie Huger, and four Van Horns in Woodie and Ann and Charlie and Kathleen.
All three debutantes raved about how much fun they had, with Hailey stating, “The party had everything I love most about New Orleans: the people, the food, the music and (the location) in the French Quarter,” and Rosemary, “What a happy day it was for my family.” Bryn, who lives in California, commented: “It felt like we’d never moved away.”
The last act of “French Quarter Brunch” was a lively move. With second-line accessories already in place, guests hopped up for a spirited tour around Tableau led by the above jazz band now converted to a marching band. Then it was out into the streets for a police-escorted second-line parade to nearby Jackson Square with brunch guests twirling their hankies and honorees Hailey, Bryn and Rosemary relishing the revelry as they lifted their parasols.
Swinging Hot Havana Night
A “Copa” jaunt in a fabled joint! In white lettering, “Swinging Hot Havana Night at The Copacabana” topped the blue background of the invitation that further stated “One Night Only” and the names of the honored debutantes, Misses Sarah Marie Favrot McLellan and Emily Louise Eble Nelson, Sadie and Emily, as well as their parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Richmond McLellan and Mr. and Mrs. Albert James Nelson IV. Gracing the cover of the gateway invitation (which encouraged “music and passion; black tie — white dinner jacket, the fashion) was a “Carmen Miranda” cutout complete with huge hoop earrings, bright red lips, and a tutti-frutti turban. The artist was co-hostess Claudia Nelson.
Guests arriving at the location, City Park’s Arbor Room at Popp Fountain, were immediately plunged into the atmosphere of one of the most famous former nightclubs, The Copacabana in New York. Along with banana trees and leaves, and the banana tree flower and mariposa leaves, decorations included a lighted tree-lined walkway with caricatures of musical artists who debuted at The Copa: Stevie Wonder, the Rat Pack, Tony Bennett, Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. To mention a few. At the fountain, a pair of pink flamingo cigarette girls handed out fruit-covered headbands, while “Carmen Miranda” passed out wish-pennies to toss in the fountain.
At the entrance were the debs’ names in lights, caricatures of them, and banana trees, a motif picked up in the centerpieces. The canopy-covered bar, called “Hottest Spot North of Havana,” served mojitos and Pink Flamingo drinks. Further decorative elements — and there were lots! — were the center tent, the back bar done up to look like a casino (with the bartenders wearing green casino visors and fedoras), 10-12 foot banana stalks, cigarette girls carrying pink trays with everything pink, and Carmen Miranda (a 610 Stomper!) described as “wild on the dance floor.” All artwork was by the deb mothers and deb sister Eugenie McLellan, who figured in the party picture.
Sadie, who donned a white Monique Lhuillier dress, while mom Tina McLellan decided to think pink, opting for a float dress by Gianni Bini, were joined by grandparents Jeannie and Jimmy Gibert and Marie McLellan, Jimmy Gibert Jr. and Katie, James Gibert III, Lindsey Gibert, Susan McLellan and David McConnell, Leslie McConnell, Allan McConnell, Julie and Gary Dieciedue, Liz and Michael Landry, Gene and Eileen Gamble, and Michele and Frank Loppicolo.
The honored Emily chose Black Label for her white chiffon dress, mom Claudia Nelson furthered the pink panache, and deb sister Caroline (who wore a dazzling dress as the 2013 Athenians queen) made her pink frock colorfully “hot.” Grandparents Jimmy and Mathilde Nelson answered The Copa call, as did Mike and Barbara Levy, George and Katie Nelson, Chris and Kelly Nelson, Susan Scheinuk with Emerson, Patrick and Wendy Duckworth, and Hank, Gina and Ashley Arnold. Also, Sharon Crane; Michael, Mendy and Catie Barry; Ryan and Judy Acomb; Dwight, Kirsten and Kathleen Acomb; Saunders, Lisa and Ellen Alpaugh; Mark and Libby Adams; sorority pals; and Donald, Indie, Sean and Michael McKay.
Cuban fare, such as black beans and rice, along with coconut/mango chicken, shrimp paella, and mini Cuban sandwiches at midnight, sated The Copa appetite. So did the four types of music making — bossa nova, swing, Motown and disco — attributed to the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra (first two) and, for the latter, Black Cat Productions (owned by Clark Knighten). “I feel like I’m at a Las Vegas show,” remarked a party-goer.
The highlight of the bash was the singing by the honorees: Sadie, “Lullabye of Broadway”; Emily doing a duet with Mark Monistere to “The Lady is a Tramp,” and for the ultimate thrills both Sadie and Emily teamed (as they did for their sisters’ 2013 deb party at City Park) for “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy.” And, for these night-trippers, everyone was “Copacabana”-happy.