O Come All Ye Festive!

Oh, What Fun It Is to Give!

At the annual Fete de Noel given by the Ladies Leukemia League Inc., the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside was alive with seasonal animation. Always a popular event — and one that draws more than 1,000 people — the format is Parade of Prizes, silent auction, special raffles, door prizes, entertainment, Dillard’s fashion show and lunch. The most recent menu was a salad of fall greens with Steen’s cane syrup vinaigrette, pork osso bucco and eggnog cheesecake.

The purpose is paramount: Funds raised go to leukemia research. The announcement of Light the Tree of Hope Donors (with Dillard’s as the top one) was one of the many highlights, as was the presentation by Jeri Landry and Rosalie Edwards of the 2017-18 grant recipients: Victoria Belancio, Ph.D.; George A. Calin, M.D., Ph.D.; Maro Ohanian, M.D.; and Rachel E. Rau, M.D. Over the years, the league has donated more than $3.4 million to finding a cure for leukemia.

Headliners of the 48th event were league Co-Presidents Patricia Golemi and Denise Woodward, Fete de Noel Chairwoman Jacquelyn Milan, Co-Chairwoman Meb Cefalu, mistress of ceremonies Camille Whitworth, and Janet Patterson for the invocation. The New Orleans Advocate was the media sponsor.

“Oh, What Fun It Is to Give” themed the gala/giving event that featured table centerpieces of decorative gold gifts placed on a red mat, which went home with lucky winners. The huge Christmas tree near the runway came to luminous life as the “Light the Tree” names were read. Moments later, and after T-Ray the Violinist performed, the runway took on model life. Billed “A Decade of Friendship,” the fashion show recalled the relationship between Dillard’s and LLL and, appropriately, featured 10 scenes drawn from previous shows. Some of the choice ones — all reaped hearty applause — were “Sharp Dressed Man (2008),” “Painted by Monet (’15),” “Chorus Line (’14),” “Bond James Bond (’13),” and for the finale, “Ladies in Red (’07 and ’11).”

Then came the most exciting and touching moments of the day. New septuagenarian Mr. Bingle arrived, followed by the ageless Santa Claus. Eyes moistened when four children fighting cancer appeared on the runway: Callen Kott, Kailee Taylor, Annabelle Thomas and Macie Goleman. Outfitted in to-keep clothes from Dillard’s, the youngsters enjoyed the limelight and the effusive ovation from the audience.

More notables were Mike Jones, Joyce Coleman, Anne Favre, Lisa Baynham, Connie Kitchen, Priscilla Casey, Cissy Tittle, Carolyn D’Antonio, Jeri Landry, Paula Pizzalotto, Catherine Accardo, Suzanne deMontluzin, Ana Eller, Michele Danos, Doris Rappold, Richard Kernion (who reveled as St. Nick), Sammy Steele and countless others.

Another group sported broad smiles. They were winners of Fete prizes. Joy North got the Hostess Prize from Dillard’s; Jean LeBourgeois, the Aucoin Hart ring; Kathryn Kovacevich, Southwest Airlines tickets; and Catherine Weil, a black fox stole from Hi Fashions, which she donned immediately. Audrey Vegas, Betty Lindgren and Cecile Louque were thrilled door prize winners.

In truth, everyone was a winner: Funds generated by the midday fun will fight a dreaded disease. Giving became its own gift.

All the President’s Pack

The palindromic 141st anniversary party of the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club was preceded by the one-hour President’s Reception hosted by Eric Holden. Held immediately prior to the general party for the membership, it is given for past presidents of the club, as well as current members of the board of governors and their spouses.

Saffron nola catered, adding to more conventional fare (bisque, salad, beef tenderloin, spinach Madeleine) tasty Indian cuisine, such as chicken saffron biryani. Desserts filled a ground-level room and had numerous takers for crème caramel custard, toffee pudding cake and tiramisu.

Upstairs, and elsewhere, Paul LaCour’s decorations set the seasonal spirit and caught every eye. There were large gold ornaments, Santa’s elves suspended from the vaulted ceiling of the ballroom, and swags of garlands with lights and Christmas wreaths at the center of each.

Making rounds were President Eric Holden with spouse Lisa, immediate past President Robert Olivier with Barbara, Vice President Shaw Thompson with Ann, Secretary Mason Couvillon with Jennifer, Treasurer John Jeremiah with Lisa, and board members Judge Karen Herman with Stephen, Robert Redfearn Jr. with Cheryl, Patrick Summerour with Dana, Dr. Claude Williams IV with Dr. Laurie, Jeff Scurlock with Kathryn, and Scott Howard with Janet.

Also, Alexis Claire Tripplehorn, Tom and Dian Winingder, Wade and Cheryl Webster, Chad and Olivia Ventola, Diane and George Simpson, John and Margaret Long, Robert and Danielle LeBlanc, Park and Marti McEnery, Dr. Rob and Joanne Marier, Maryanne and Dr. Link Pranikoff, Drs. Hernan Bazan and Jasmine Elison, Lee and Virgina Barba, and John Dexell and Dr. Mary Killackey. For the music making, it was Deacon John and the Ivories, who got scores to the dance floor for Jackie Wilson’s “To Be Loved.” “White Christmas” followed, as did a slew of other popular numbers, both fast and slow.

As they departed, each guest received a white, Christmas tree ornament with the club's logo and LED lights within that changed colors. According to general manager J. Lee Stall, it “was a very special party for the club … the 141st anniversary.”

Happy Birthday, Winston

The Churchill Society of New Orleans celebrated an important date: the natal day of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. Done with proper and festive flourish, the four-course dinner and talk unfolded in the formal dining room of the New Orleans Country Club. After the initial round of socializing, which included an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, guests moved to the dining room, where singers from the Loyola School of Music, under the direction of Carol Rausch and with assistance from Ted Martin, entertained with songs from Harrow, the school Churchill attended from 1888-1892, and other musical selections.

Another high point of the evening was the animated talk by Robert M. Citino, Ph.D. (with Roberta), who recently joined The National WWII Museum as the Samuel Zemurray Stone senior historian. (During his academic postings, he was voted the No. 1 professor in the nation on the student-populated website RateMyProfessors.com.) His presentation focused on the Wehrmacht’s (“defensive force”) view of Churchill.

Swapping Churchillian chatter were board President J. Gregg Collins with Joan and his aunt Joyce McKenney, Secretary Ted Martin (Edward F.) with Louise, and board members Herschel L. Abbott with Anne, Hill Riddle Jr., William D. “Bill” Reeves, Betsy Stout with Wendel, Christopher Tidmore, and Walter Wolf. Also, Dr. and Mrs. Walter Eversmeyer III, Harry and Claire Stahel, Shirley Trusty Corey (of the Orlin Corey Circle), Norris and Bob Williams, Dr. and Mrs. Gary Danos, John and Edie Wilson with Claire (Mrs. Richard J.) Hesse, Bill and Dianne Hightower with Jack Hulse, Jackie Gamble, David and Carol Woodward, Sandy Villere, Drs. Rand and Terry Voorhies, John and Bonnie Boyd, Raul Fonte and Helen Flammer, and dozens more, who reveled in the 143rd birthday celebration of Churchill, a giant of the 20th century.