The Pro Bono Project booked its 26th Justice for All Ball in the Audubon Tea Room on a recent Friday evening and hailed Marcus V. Brown of Entergy Corporation as the honorary chairman. Two days later, the Garden District Fall Affair unfolded in Commander’s Palace with, as chaircouples, Barbara and Edwin Beckman and Molly and Bill Gahagan. For both gatherings, good will – and times – made social statements.

  • ‘Justice’ Jaunt

Always a rallying point on the early fall calendar with fine food, music, and auction and raffle attractions, the 2014 Justice for All Ball added yet another come-on: artist Alex Harvie painting live on site. Appropriately, the highest bidders of the oil painting that captured the bash’s energy, spirit and some curious guests were “Opening Doors” honorary Chairman Marcus and Nanette Brown. The honored Marcus, executive vice president and general counsel, Entergy Corporation, teamed with his colleagues to help The Project light up the night.

Further luminaries were ball Co-Chairmen Michael DePetrillo and Norm Rubenstein, partners, respectively, at Jones Walker and Zeughauser Group. For Michael, family was to the fore. He was joined by wife Vanessa DePetrillo; her parents, Dr. Terrence and Judge Bernadette D’Souza; and his brother-in-law, Aidan D’Souza, who zipped in from Los Angeles.

Other notables were Project executive director Rachel Piercey, who, along with the above Marcus, Michael and Norm, served on the 28-person Ball Committee; Project board Chairwoman Jan M. Hayden – additional officers are Carole Cukell Neff, Norm Rubenstein, Catherine E. “Katy” Lasky (in attendance with husband Andrew Romero), Christopher Ralston, Caroline McSherry Dolan, and Rachel Piercey; and representatives from the Spotlight Sponsors, Benefactors, and Patrons categories. In the latter listing were Jackie and Bruce Shreves. He was the highest bidder on a rare bottle of wine from Brad Adam’s private collection.

And, Mayor Mitch and Cheryl Landrieu (surprise guests at the patron party), Judge Jay and Joy Zainey, Mark and Monica Surprenant, Guy and Mickey deLaup, Michael Bagneris, Richard and Mary Anne Haase, Seth Nehrbass, Steve and Judge Karen Herman, the Mike Tusas, Pam and David Hansen, Wendy Hickok Robinson, Douglas and Denise Redfearn, and law school deans David Meyer (Tulane), and Maria Lopez (Loyola).

Amelia “Mimi” Koch chaired the silent auction that included art pieces, jewelry, and the done-on-the spot Alex Harvie painting. Another choice auction item was a red 2015 Vespa (donated by The Transportation Revolution), which had Donna and Demarcus Gordon placing top bucks.

More than 25 local restaurants made sure the legal eagles were pleasingly nourished, while SoBou and its Abigail Gullo purveyed the ball’s signature drink, Cumberbatch Collins Punch. Funkshuns provided both the decorations for the main 700-person merriment and the earlier patron party nearby in the golf course’s clubhouse. Shuttle service tweaked the trek.

The ball always has an invitation that catches the eye. This year, and in furtherance of “Opening Doors,” the Right Hat-designed invitation took a cue. The event decorations, in turn, complemented its design and colors, embellishing the premises with floral centerpieces of greens, white lilies and roses. Adding touches were signature, commemorative wooden plaques with keys to open figurative doors, which symbolized The Project’s mission of providing free, quality civic legal services to the underserved through lawyers working without pay (pro bono).

Thanked and recognized, among hundreds, were Elonide Semmes, newlywed Danielle Courter Yocum, Steve and Marianne Hawkins Sabrier, various chefs, Adler’s, patron party music makers the David Hansen Garden District Trio, Limousine Livery, New Orleans Audio, and the bash band, Louisiana Spice with the excitement of swing, pop and funk.

Noted, too, were singer/Cajun fiddler Amanda Shaw (taking a night off) and companion Galen Hair, a 610 Stomper, whom she called “a cute guy.” He’s also a lawyer and an avid dancer. Project executive director Rachel Piercey couldn’t resist and found herself twirled and swirled across the dance floor.

  • Thy Neighbor and Thyself

“Fall Affair” celebrated 75 years — a diamond anniversary — of the Garden District Association and presented a many-faceted fete at Commander’s Palace. Thanks galore tapped the restaurant’s Ella Brennan, Dottie Brennan, Lally Brennan and Ti Martin. Benefactors arrived first for their special gathering prior to the 7 p.m. cocktail reception and the half-hour-later dinner.

Culinary sparkle came via chef Tory McPhail and his three-course menu that started with a bisque and ended with a tart. Real sparkle was donated by Friend & Company in the form of diamond earrings for the silent auction. Ambrose Garden/Steve Baker did the lovely orange and yellow flowers, Laura Moise created the diamond-theme invitation, Ives Business Forms did the printing, and the Joe Simon Jazz Trio supplied the scintillating sounds.

Providing the lively chatter of conversation were the approximately 200 attendees, whose numbers included the above Barbara and Edwin Beckman, who were just back from a trip to Uzbekistan exploring the Silk Road, and Molly and association Treasurer Bill Gahagan; Vice President Andre Gaudin representing President Pauline Hardin and Allain, who were away at the time; and immediate past President Frank Tessier.

Also, Megan and Todd Layman; Laura and Philip Claverie, who entertained questions about their recent trip to Vienna, Austria; Kay and John Colbert, who were home-hosts at the association’s annual meeting in May; and, in from Texas, Giorgio and Kitty Parkerson Drugovich. Kitty’s grandfather, the late Lt. Colonel Emmet Parkerson, co-founded the association 75 years ago and an award bearing his name is given each year to an individual or group that has greatly enhanced the character of the Garden District. Mary Fitzpatrick received it posthumously for her extensive work in the neighborhood’s preservation.

Milling, too, were a solo Anne Abbott (Herschel had been in Egypt), Sandy and Paul Haygood, Eileen Powers, Nancy and Cocie Rathborne, Laura and Sonny Shields, Tink Friedrichs, Marge and Mike Dolan, and Beth and Jim Ryan. They were gratified in knowing that proceeds from the dinner support the GDA as a steward of the neighborhood that is valued by residents and visitors. Recent projects have been the designation of the area as a Louisiana Cultural District, termite treatment of oak trees, graffiti removal, and support of the Historic District designation for the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line.

District denizens breaking bread also included Bobbi and Bill Trufant, Janet and Scott Howard, Beth and Hugh Lambert, Betty and Tucker Fitz-Hugh, Lulie and Denis McDonald, Ashley and Pablo Gonzalez, Sally and Larry O’Meallie, Lindsay and Matt Woolf, Sweet and Ben Dupuy, and new Garden District Security District Commissioners Bobby Hassinger and Lindsay Woolf, who were accompanied by their spouses, Beth and Matt.

  • Around and About

Now for the new, new thing and the celebration of its gestation. That’s the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the recent ribbon cutting for the building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. The SoFAB Institute’s board of directors invited a slew of notables to the snipping.

Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, was the host/master of ceremonies, and for the welcome and introductions board Chairman Edward Johnston and Elizabeth “Liz” Williams, board president and museum director, were tapped.

Next up to address the packed crowd were Lt. Gov. of Louisiana Jay Dardenne, Commissioner of Agriculture of Louisiana Mike Strain, and Scott Hutcheson, adviser to the mayor for cultural economy. Then came Councilwoman-at-Large Stacy Head, District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, and, with titles, Barbara Lacen-Keller, Bill Hoffman, Brad Calloway, Miljana Vujosevic, Ryan Hughes, Mary Blair Ray, Rosemary McIlhenny Dinkins, Laura McMillian (representing husband Chris), and Jeremiah Tower. The latter is a top toque and the author of several cookbooks.

In the audience were Jim Singleton, Herschel Abbott, Sandra Dartus, Diane Lyons, Bob Brown, Nina Gensler, David Villarrubia, Rick Normand, Bergen Carman, Veronica Mosgrove, Deacon John Moore, Randolph Tucker Fitz-Hugh Jr., and hundreds more who’ll be flocking back in numbers – and soon – when chef /proprietor the aforementioned Ryan Hughes opens restaurant Purloo within the museum.