Swing was the thing when the annual Whitney Zoo-to-Do rounded up its festive forces, hundreds and hundreds, to celebrate Audubon Zoo’s orangutans. Both the above adult activity, which called for black tie or white linen suit as the correct male tenue, and the week-earlier Zoo-to-Do for Kids will help underwrite Audubon Zoo’s new Sumatran exhibit in the Asian Domain. The new home for the orangutans will feature decorative Asian temple ruins perfect for jumping and climbing, bamboo scaffolding for rope activities, a cascading waterfall and palm trees for shade. Simian bliss!
As dusk was setting in, sponsors gathered at the zoo for the first rounds of hobnobbing in the Jerome S. Glazer Audubon Tea Room, which was beautifully embellished with NOLA Flora orchid centerpieces. Iridescent teal linens topped the tables. In the Tea Room’s Garden Tent, Bella Blooms did the live bamboo centerpieces; Firefly Ambiance added luminosity on the Patron Lounge and Patio, thanks to lanterns and twinkle lights; and, as he has done for decades, Luis Colmenares decorated the Cooper Plaza Elephant Fountain.
The to-Do’s “who” was catalogue-epic in length, starting with event chairwoman Catherine Freeman, who was joined by husband Peter, and her in-laws, Judy and Louis Freeman; Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO L. Ronald “Ron” Forman with Sally; honorary chairmen, such as Congressman Garrett Graves with Carissa, City Councilman James Gray, Councilwoman Susan Guidry with Hervin, state Rep. Neil C. Abramson, Mike Illane with Julie, and J. Kelly Duncan, whose late mother, Kitty (Mrs. Brooke H.) Duncan, chaired the initial ZtD in 1972; Michele T. Reynoir, the 2014 successor (and many of her predecessors); 2015 ZtD for Kids’ Chairwoman Jill Pipes; and sponsorial representation from Whitney Bank, ZtD title sponsor; Lexus of New Orleans for the luxury vehicle, a Lexus, that was raffled; Chevron, promotional media and headlined entertainment; and Jos. A. Bank, official clothing. Further sponsors and donors were as numerous as the stars above all the “perfect night” festivity.
Additional features were the many desirable auction items, which included ruby earrings from Friend & Company Fine Jewelers, Corporate Travel’s vacation trips, and “Banana Blossom,” a painting by 2015 Whitney ZtD’s featured artist, Tim Trapolin. Molly Baumer and Lilla Wright were the auction chairwomen.
“Sumatran Swing” with Malibu Red was the event’s signature drink, which folks enjoyed as they gazed and grazed. Along with 40 specialty and full-service bars, there was fine fare from more than 70 restaurants. All the while, there was music. Lots of music, thanks to Bill Malchow and the Go Cup All Stars, Heather and the Monkey King, Eastern Sunrise, and the headliner, Downtown Fever.
Reveling in the fun were Audubon Nature Institute board Chairman Joseph A. Jaeger Jr., and such board officers/members as Mark C. Romig, Kate Werner, Vincent Palumbo, Lynes “Poco” Sloss, Stephanie Feoli, Fenn French, and Virginia Rowan. Also, Kim Glazer, King and Anne Milling, Caroline Milling, Joe Exnicios, Clifton and Elizabeth LeBlanc, Price and Christine LeBlanc, Cary Grant, and from the Audubon Commission, Kelly Duncan (president), Danny Conwill, Linda Baum, Dr. Barton Farris, Storey Charbonnet, Frances Fayard, Dr. Field Ogden, Charles Teamer, Tom Watson, and Brent Wood. Most were joined by spouses or guests. Quite a few extended welcoming hands to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and his wife, Cathy.
Air Effects/Sky Tracker lit up the night that enjoyed the sounds of Downtown Fever on the Capital One Stage. “Pretty Young Thing,” a hit number (and descriptive of many attendees), “Uptown Funk,” and “Best of My Love” had audience members channeled in the gala groove. When the band segued into Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” just about everybody did wanna dance with somebody. And before long, the orangutans will do their swinging in their new home.
And now for the piggies! Squeal if you just wanna have fun.
The Krewe of Pork & Beads and Bridge House and Grace House (the beneficiaries) presented the 19th annual Cochon Cotillion at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World with Arlene Rome, Tiffany Markey Truxillo (with Joe), and Brian McDonald as the krewe’s captains. Attendees were summoned regally: “His Majesty King Ronal Serpas and Her Majesty Queen Ruthie Frierson” commanded “your presence.” Hog-wild was acceptable.
The evening unfolded at the court party with music by crooner Mike Morris and catering by Delgado Culinary Arts Program, and then moved on to the start of the cotillion, the mini-parade, and all the delights of seeing people cavorting in tacky Mardi Gras ball outfits, food from 45 vendors, and the auction. More than 100 items witnessed bidding traffic with a day on the set of “NCIS: New Orleans” as a hot-to-trot entry.
In addition to the royals and their entourages, there were BH CEO Else Pedersen, a mom-daughter duo in Barbara and Michelle Gaiennie, Kevin Gardere, Paul and Debbie Roberts, Scott and Tammy Crabtree, Gregory and Suzanne Rusovich, John Crawford Hope III and Elizabeth, Jeff and Melissa Funk, Kendra Reade, Linda Morris with crooner Mike, and “Uncle Wayne” Daigrepont. And that’s just the “pig” start.
Erin Nicole and Chriss Knight of WGNO teamed as emcees and, for more distaff power, ELS had everyone on their two feet — four, not allowed! — dancing to funk, rhythm and blues.
For the 12th Sentimental Journeys of Longue Vue House & Gardens, the celebratory thematic jaunt was to the world-famous tulips of Lisse, the Netherlands, and the Keukenhof spring garden.
A flowering of time recalls the date of 1936 when LV’s founders Edith and Edgar Stern embarked on a 14-month trip around the world commemorating their 15th wedding anniversary and Edgar’s 50th birthday. In 1995, LV introduced the Sentimental Journeys benefit to support its educational and civic endeavors.
At the 2015 floral fundraiser in honor of The Garden Study Club, a member of the Garden Club of America, Ann Koppel Schreiner (with Mark) and Elizabeth LeBlanc (with Clifton) served as chairwomen; Danielle Kavanaugh (with Caffrey Favrot) as the hostess at her showplace Old Metairie home and garden; and Michael Sichel of Galatoire’s as the chef for a “Dutch inspired” menu. Locally Preserved did the patron party’s signature cocktail, “Lavender Rain.”
A slew of thanks tapped Scriptura’s Margaret Jones and Rachel Treen Turnage for the tulip, fold-out invitations; Stephanie Huger for the patron gift; several libation purveyors, as well as Sucre; Pam Hayne for table arrangements; and Stephanie Laborde (with Bo) for the decorations. The patron party had a decor of white (and music by the Josh Starkman Trio), while the main event opted for color in its Mardi Gras float flowers from Blaine Kern Studios. Event Rental provided a 60-by-40-foot clear tent under which The Essentials provided the musical beat. A host of dancing duos hit the floor.
Among the hundreds were 2014 SJ Co-Chairwoman Shaun Duncan with Foster, Kristen and Woody Koppel, LV board President Lynne R. Stern, LV executive director Tony Chauveaux with Kathryn, Mary Len and Louis Costa, LV’s Lenora Costa Stout with Andy, R. Erich Caulfield (winner of the raffle earrings from Friend & Co.), Bill Hines (of Jones Walker, patron party sponsor) and Mary, Brett and Susie Bares, Wayne Woods, Liz and John Roussel, Friends of LV Volunteer Committee President Mary Ellen Miller and Clifford, and auctioneers for the live portion Ruthie Winston and Middleton O’Malley.
The auction, always a key component of SJ, took on a new slant, including “Longue Vue-only” items such as dinner for 12 in LV’s dining room facilitated by chef Slade Rushing of Brennan’s New Orleans (and donated by Ralph Brennan and Terry White). Then there were the signature trips. Chief among them was one to the Netherlands to see the tulips of Keukenhof in Lisse.