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I always love any excuse that lets me attend a Baton Rouge Symphony concert so, when publisher David Manship asked me to stand in for him at the Nov. 29 holiday concert, I was more than happy to say yes. The fact that the evening wrapped up with a post-concert champagne reception was simply icing on the cake.

‘Home for the Holidays’

You could hear people speculating as Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, looking smashing attired all in red, and conductor Timothy Muffitt gave hints as to who would be performing at the 10th anniversary of the symphony’s Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Great Performers Concert Feb. 8. When Paula finally said “Diana Ross,” there was an audible group gasp followed by a rousing applause of approval. I can’t wait!

Meanwhile, Muffitt promised to have everyone in the holiday spirit by evening’s end and he, guest performer Mara Bonde, the Symphony Chorus and the orchestra didn’t disappoint. I don’t think there was a major Christmas song we didn’t hear that night. I had to practically lock my lips to keep from singing along to Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night,” but I managed. Fortunately, they did let us all sing along to “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

‘Picture a Perfect World …’

To celebrate World AIDS Day Dec. 1, the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region II hosted its second annual HIV/AIDS awareness poster contest and fashion show, “Picture a Perfect World without HIV/AIDS.” The cocktail-style fundraiser took place a The Office and featured fashions from Time Warp, ElleMarie, Loft 3H, Aristocracy and Noelie Harmon. The style show was coordinated by William Roy with music provided by DJ Otto.

Attendees also got to cast their vote in the poster competition. Students from Baton Rouge Community College’s “Intro to Graphic Design” class were asked to create an HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness poster. The winning selection by Thomas Bernard will be HAART’s official poster for 2013.

I got to visit with Debbie and Julio Dumas, and son Jonathan, who was one of the models; Heather Kleinpeter, another model; Heather Day; Kristy Davis , who handled emcee duties; Brian Buxton; Corey Tullier and John Deshotel; Leonard Augustus and Thomas Telihard; and Executive Director Tim Young.

Historical holiday

With thousands downtown for the Festival of Lights officially kicking off the holiday season in Baton Rouge, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana rolled out the welcome mat at the Old Governor’s Mansion for its annual holiday open house Nov. 30. The mansion looked splendid in its holiday finery, complements of LUBA Workers Compensation.

As the clock struck 5, Santa and Mrs. Claus came Ho-Ho-Hoing down the sweeping stairs and made their way into the East Ballroom, where they visited the younger set and posed for photos. Over in the West Wing, classic Christmas movies were playing, complete with popcorn for munching. There was even an opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done. Some rather unique items from the gift shop were on display in the dinning room.

OLOL holiday

The Camelot Club was decked out for the season as it welcomed members and staff of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation for their annual holiday party and meeting Nov. 28. Welcoming guests were the always smiling John Paul Funes, foundation executive director, and events coordinator Teddie Hessberg, who updated me and Chris and Steve Jackson on the progress of the home she and her husband are building. Once my photo subjects all arrived, it was a quick snap then out the door for me.

Sparkling evening

Before heading home, I popped into Juban’s Restaurant, which, just in time for the holidays, had teamed up with Republic National Distributors for a special champagne tasting. Among the lineup of 30 varieties of bubbly were some of my absolute favorites – Schramsberg’s Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir, Bollinger Special Cuvee Brute, Piper Heidsieck Brute and Taitinger Cuvee Rose Prestige. They were accompanied by a charcuterie spread that included such traditional such sparking wine companions as caviar and oysters as well as such new friends as delicious made-in-house boudin and sausage. Only in Louisiana …

Loved talking all things sparkling with Joanne and Juan Carrillo, Katrice Albert, Karen and Bill Profita, Paula and Dr. Leon Kraft, wine guys Bret Smith and Mike Smith, and Juban’s general manager Scott Callais.

Krewe of Gabriel

Fifteen young women took their formal bow at the Krewe of Gabriel’s Fall Presentation Ball Dec. 1 at the Frem Boustany Convention Center in Lafayette. As they were introduced, the debs were presented nosegays of pink roses by their sponsors and received krewe medallions from Commodore Harold Domingue.

This year’s coterie included Avery Andrus, daughter of Michelle and David Andrus; Katie Bacque, daughter of Pam Sonnier and John Bacque; Bailey Brown, daughter of Lauren and Dr. Dwayne Brown; Emily Castille, daughter of Denise and Wes Castille; Eleanor Cook, daughter of Nanette and David Cook; Nicole Curtis , daughter of Michelle and Tracy Curtis; Alixie Duplechain, daughter of Debbie and Dr. Kevin Duplechain; and Alexandra Howell, daughter of Leanne and Evan Howell.

Also, Elizabeth Koke, daughter of Betsy and David Koke; Laura Lee, daughter of Marilyn and Joe Lee; Camille LeJeune, daughter of Ann and Sterling LeJeune; Margaret Moss, daughter of Michelle and Dr. Samuel Moss; Paige Logan, daughter of Charla and Bill Logan; Ashley Roth, daughter of Gerilyn and Matt Roth; Caroline Schoeffler, daughter of Jeanne and Todd Schoeffler; Eleanor Schutte, daughter of Mary and Dr. John Schutte; Kamryn Stelly, daughter of Diane and Ken Stelly; Caroline Strohe, daughter of Clara and Tommy Strohe; and Amelia Zepernick, daughter of Sheila and Gus Zepernick Jr. Jim Venable was ball chairman; Mike Gibbens served as adviser.

Items for “Pam’s Party Line” and “Scenes from Around Town” must be received by 9 a.m. the Monday preceding the run date. Digital photos should be emailed to; hard copy photos should be dropped off at or mailed to The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Events will run no later than four weeks after they have taken place. The date, place of the event and a contact name and phone number must be included. Photos may not include more than nine people and will be used on a space-available basis. Hard copy photos can be picked up in the lobby of The Advocate for up to three months after they run. By submitting photos to The Advocate, you agree that they can be published in any of The Advocate’s print or digital publications.