Moonlight & Miracles

“Under the Dome and beneath the Stars” was touted for Ochsner’s Moonlight & Miracles Gala in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which was bannered “A Celebration of Care” and chaired by Gayle M. Benson. Proceeds will benefit cancer programs at Ochsner. One hundred fifty volunteers gave their time and effort for the gala, the third one, as did the same number of local businesses. Endless hours figured in the preparation

According to Warner L. Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System and joined by wife Linda, the event was “a celebration of care and the miracle of healing.” He added, “Cancer plays no favorites, but together we are building a strong and dedicated team that’s changing the landscape and revolutionizing care.” As did Gayle Benson, who was with husband Tom, the Saints/Pelicans owner, Thomas extended profuse thanks to all attendees. Dozens of sponsors (such as the Saints’ Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis, and also Dr. Patrick and Nga Quinlan) added to the “Care” roster.

Before entering the capacious premises, guests were wowed by the lavender lighting that bathed the Superdome. Once within, the eye was treated further to the moon and stars that “hung” from the ceiling of the Dome; “confetti” lighting in colors of purple, turquoise, and rose; and 200-plus tables topped with lavender linens and shimmering moon and stars overlays.

The centerpieces were of purple orchids and lavender hydrangeas with silver branches.

The Hope Garden combined décor and devotion, thanks to the 20-foot-long by 10-foot-tall Tree of Hope, which was festooned by the guests with good wishes for the cancer patients. Flanking the tree were tall posters relating the heroic stories of Ochsner pediatric and adult cancer patients.

Before sitting to sup, the M&M supporters milled about the party premises enjoying the four game zones with pass, punt and jump games provided by the New Orleans Saints. Additional features were the raffles and silent auction with such enticements as a 2016 Mercedes-Benz ($100 raffle ticket), diamond earrings, a New Year’s Eve Pelicans Game Suite Package, Saints and Pelicans jerseys, and a slew of gift certificates.

Salads were pre-set on the tables. Credit for the catering tapped chef Lenny Martinsen of Centerplate. Some of the dinner conversation concerned the Miracle Maker Patron Party that occurred three days before the gala. It unfolded at Club XLIV in Champions Square and headlined Better Than Ezra for music making. “Concert Cocktail” was the attire, but for the days-later gala, “black tie” set the sartorial stage. Many of the women sported long gowns.

In keeping with the lavender decorations, Gayle Benson had a bolero-jacketed dress made out of rich amethyst fabric.

“Miracles” mastheaders included members of the Ochsner family, such as Dr. John and Mary Lou Ochsner and their son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Lock and Lori Ochsner; Paul and Donna Flower; Calvin and Frances Fayard; the Rob Woltermans; the Scott Ballards; Bonnie (Mrs. Joseph M. Jr.) Rault; the Joe Raults III; James and Margaret Maurin; David and Maria Huete; Mr. and Mrs. Scott Mouledous; and Kenner Mayor/Jefferson Parish President-elect Mike Yenni and Michelle. Dr. Barry Goldman was the Gala Video Honoree.

Also, Ochsner board Chairwoman Suzanne Mestayer with Mike, OHS Chairman of Radiation Oncology Dr. Troy Scroggins, OHS Executive Vice President and COO Mike Hulefeld with Dr. Renee, Ochsner board member Jose Suquet with Ileana, and from the Saints, the above general manager Mickey Loomis with Melanie, President Dennis Lauscha (also Pelicans president) and Jennifer, and Ben Hales and Kendall.

Add to Moonlight & Miracles the excitement of music. During the cocktail hour, Big Sam’s Funky Nation got the beat going. Ronnie Kole added lilting pianism at dinner time and then, to cap off the evening, there was dancing under the gala’s “moon” to Jessie’s Girls.

Finally, add the excitement of money. The tally for the 2015 purposeful partying to combat cancer was $1.4 million.

Gallivanting “Ghosts”

Spouses Robin Burgess and Terence Blanchard teamed to chair the recent on-premises Odyssey Ball of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The 49th in a series of gala events, and presented by Iberia Bank and WDSU 6, it was marqueed “Ghosts Along the Mississippi” and preceded two days earlier by the Odyssey Sponsor Party, a cocktail reception and live auction, at the impressive home of Dathel and Tommy Coleman. Grammy-nominated Monica Mancini performed.

Grammy award-winning Patti Austin was the featured performer at the Odyssey Ball, which had a change of format this year. Guests sat for a three-course dinner at 8 p.m., one done by 1718 Catering of the Hyatt Regency. Braised and smoked beef short ribs and lobster and crab cakes were combined in the third course, after which guests enjoyed desserts and digestifs.

Next up was Patti Austin in concert. To conclude the festive format, DJ Soul Sister spun records at the late-night party presented by Chevron. Young Fellows, a junior donor group, flocked to the floor.

As gala-goers arrived at the City Park site, their attention was immediately riveted on the images of art from the exhibition, “Visions of US: American Art at NOMA,” that were shown on the museum’s façade and premiered at the ball. Mardi Gras Productions wowed the comely crowd with a décor of white columns draped in white curtains, both in front and inside the museum, Candles and white and lavender flowers, including roses, orchids and hydrangeas, centered the tables that were placed throughout the first floor.

Making their rounds at the revelry were the chaircouple, Robin Burgess and Terence Blanchard, along with NOMA board President Julie George and husband Ted; immediate past President David Edwards and Catherine; Vice Presidents Sydney J. Besthoff III with Walda, Mike Siegel with Aimee; and Brent Wood with Lele;, NOMA Volunteer Chairwoman Joni Dietz, and the museum’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director, Susan Taylor with husband Paolo Meozzi. Also, William and Elizabeth Monaghan, Holley Haag and Patrick Quinn, Alden and Rhesa McDonald, Dana and Steve Hansel, Frank and Paulette Stewart, Catherine Burns Tremaine, Wayne Amedee and Celeste Bertucci McShane, Glen Wilson, Jack Sullivan, Russ and Sandra Herman and scores more, who savored the elegance and excitement of Odyssey 2015.

‘Moonlight’ becomes you!

The West Jefferson Hospital Foundation presented “Moonlight & Martinis,” a special event to help the hospital continue “to offer world-class cancer care in a comfortable, family oriented environment.” Proceeds will be directed to the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center. At the top of the Spirited Sponsors listing was Boomtown Casino, the “Moonlight” presenting sponsor.

More than 1,000 guests headed to the on-campus bash that featured two huge tents with freedom up-lighting fixtures and colorful gobo patterns. The tall Austrian Curtain provided the moonlit-toned stage backdrop and gorgeous centerpieces, done as three distinct styles, wowed everyone.

Features of the hobnobbing were numerous, starting with the appearance of special guest/keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Arnold, the star of TLC’s “The Little Couple,” and her husband, Bill Klein. As a pair, they greeted guests. When called to speak, Dr. Arnold related her personal journey as a cancer survivor.

Food by 44 Culinary Champions and a specialty Martinis Bar (thank you, Boomtown Casino), as well as a live, 16-items auction by Norman Robinson kept the party at a lively pace. Susan Haggard will pack her bags before long as the “winner” of the auction’s Napa Valley trip. For the lively music making, Charmaine Neville and her band were tapped. Patrons turned an attentive ear earlier to the above pianist, Ronnie Kole.

Notables, and there were many, started with foundation Vice President Woody Oge with Maureen, Medical Center CEO Nancy Cassagne with Craig and COO Angela Greener with Hap, foundation board members Chris Breaux and Karen Ward with spouses Sheila and Jim, Boomtown Casino Vice President and general manager Harold Rowland, and hospital board member William Lazarro.

Also, Dr. Damon Dietrich with niece Amanda “Peanut” Dipirro, Melissa Mo-Billiot with Rob Billiot, state Rep. Patrick Connick with Rhonda, Althea LaCour, Dr. Charles Ballay with Lisa, Dr. Ortholino Remedios with Fay, and Jennifer Steel Bourgeois with Dr. Lionel Bourgeois. They, and hundreds more, basked in the delights of this meaningful “Moonlight.” Raised a martini glass, as well.