Trying to choose the Top 10 parties from the past year has been a Herculean task. We just have too much fun around here. But, hey, somebody's got to do it.
No. 1 — Opéra Louisiane’s Sing & Swing
Opéra Louisiane hit it out of the park at its second annual Sing & Swing Celebrity Karaoke Competition held Jan. 11 at the Crowne Plaza.
Stafford Kendall was the night’s big winner. I also got to "sing and swing," but came up short to Stafford, who morphed into Tina Turner for “Proud Mary” with backup singers Beverly Brooks Thompson, Sean Matassa and Jeff Byrnes. Ned Fasullo & the Fabulous Big Band played for the performances and for dancing throughout the night.
No. 2 — The Gala Goes …
The Gala Goes Global, a fabulous evening benefiting Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and Cancer Services, had everyone flying first class to places like Italy, France, Mexico, Greece, Asia and India.
Smartly attired flight attendants waving their ubiquitous flashlights lined the entrance to the L’Auberge Event Center for the Sept. 12 celebration. The ballroom was decorated with lavish sets depicting the various countries, and the cuisine came from local ethnic restaurants. DJ Bob Blanchard added to the mood with his international musical selections.
No. 3 — Sizzlin’ for SEALs Soirée
This was a black-tie worthy fundraiser without the ties and ballgowns. The Sizzlin’ for SEALs Soirée benefiting the Navy SEAL Foundation was held Nov. 2.
For the second time, Luci and Wayne Stabiler marshaled the resources of their restaurant group (Little Village Restaurants, Stab's Steak & Seafood, Palermo Ristorante and Stab's Prime Steak & Seafood) to host this most special evening at Live Oak Arabians, where the show ring had been transformed into an elegant, almost ethereal setting.
No. 4 — Best Dressed
One of the year's most anticipated events is the annual Best Dressed Ball, which raised right at $1 million for American Cancer Society, and took place Aug. 10 at the Raising Cane’s River Center. The honorees share in a video how their lives have been touched by cancer and then get to show off their dancing skills on the runway. The night wrapped up with dancing to the sounds of Creativity and, at midnight, guests grabbed late night McDonald’s snack courtesy of Valluzzo Companies.
No. 5 — Emerge A Go-Go
It was back to the 1960s for the Emerge Center’s fifth annual gala May 11 at the Shaw Center for the Arts. There were go-go girls in white boots, oh-so-dashing “Mad Men” and even a Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat or two. Three music lounge venues (techno, jazz and rock) kept the party hopping before we settled into the Manship Theatre for The Beatles vs. The Stones Musical Showdown.
The Fab Four kicked off the first half of the show, taking us down memory lane and inviting us to sing along before turning the stage over to Mick and the boys. The show ended with both tribute bands on stage together performing hits like “Hey Jude,” “Day Tripper” and “Satisfaction.”
No. 6 — Great Performers
With the Raising Cane’s River Center Theatre undergoing renovations, the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Great Performers in Concert moved to the arena, where Chris Botti and his talented band, with the symphony backing them up, made it seem like an intimate club. Botti strolled into the audience, where he was joined by talented songstress Sy Smith at the March 15 performance.
The night started off with a VIP black-tie gala at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and wrapped up with a post-concert Champagne reception, hosted by Hancock Whitney Bank, where sponsors got to meet Botti and company. A perfect way to end the night!
No. 7 — Fur Ball
A veritable who’s who of Baton Rouge filled a Celtic Studio sound stage for the eighth annual Fur Ball benefiting the Companion Animal Alliance. Before the evening even got underway, $92,000 had been raised in the online “Rock the Vote” campaign. Crowned Fur Ball King and Queen for raising the most money were Prescott Bailey and Larry, and Leslie Berg and Ginger.
No. 8 — The Answer
Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation’s annual trivia event, The Answer, had a space theme, which, of course, brought out the Star Trek uniforms. There were also teams dressed like the agents from “Men in Black,” as well as from “Space Cowboys,” "Dr. Who," “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” “The Jetson’s” and “Space Jam.”
No. 9 — Symphony of the Sea
A major thunderstorm rumbled through on April 4 just as the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s Mad Hatter’s Luncheon & Fashion Show was getting underway at the Renaissance Hotel. The parking lot may have resembled an ocean but that didn’t stop luncheon-goers from pulling out all the stops for the “Symphony of the Sea” hat competition. And, I've got to say, these were some of the best hats I've ever seen.
There were so many extraordinary groups that I and my fellow judges ditched the individual award for Most Outrageous and gave it to the Kleinpeter Mermaids, who were over the top.
No. 10 — Dancing for Big Buddy
The 13th annual Dancing for Big Buddy on April 27 at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Big Buddy Program.
The Star Dancers and their professionals put on quite the show. But the Little Buddies, as they do every year, stole the show with their disco/hip-hop routine choreographed by Lisa White, Donna Blanchard and Donté Phillips with the Powell-Moise School of Dance.
Chosen as the Female Audience Winner and the judges’ Most Fluid dancer was Sarah Fautheree and partner River Peterson. Sarah also tallied up the most online votes, raising more than $12,000.
Scott Taylor took home the trophy for Male Audience Winner and the award for Most Surprising dancer for the routine he and Jerisse Bolton Gratham performed.
Party of the Decade — ‘One Love for Louisiana’
While the 2010s was filled some amazing social events, one stands out above the rest. From Jan. 25-27, 2018, the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians took over the nation's capital for the 70th anniversary of Washington Mardi Gras. Reigning over the event were King Todd Graves, CEO of Raising Cane's, and Queen Anna Reilly, daughter of Jennifer and Sean Reilly.
From Todd’s fabulous party at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium to the Celtic-themed breakfast hosted by the queen, it was all about "One Love for Louisiana."