Aprons, pink wigs, art and all things Italian starred in last week's round of events. Fortunately, everything was inside because no one wanted to be outside for any reason!
Pointe Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres was the repeat champion tip earner at the Children’s Advocacy Center’s 12th annual Celebrity Waiter event July 18 at the L’Auberge Event Center. The LSU Golden Girls thought they had it in the bag with their $4,700 total until he waltzed in at the last minute and handed over a check for $10,000. Third-place honors went to Ya’el Lofton, coordinator of LSU's football operations; she earned $600 in tips.
The Children’s Advocacy Center works with children in the aftermath of abuse and violent crimes, so getting folks to volunteer to put on an apron and beg for tips from family and friends isn’t too hard to do.
Also donning aprons for the cause were East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark; Darryl Gissel, chief administrative office for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul; EBR Sheriff’s Maj. Todd Morris; Zachary Police Chief David McDavid; former Metro Councilman John Delgado; Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Detective Brett Stassi Jr. and “The Killing Fields” detectives Jeremy Sanchez, Leslie Bradford and Lori Morgan.
And, from the sports world, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, Tiger Athletic Foundation CEO Rick Perry, former Southern University Baseball coach Roger Cador, former LSU Tiger Ryan Clark, LSU Lady Tigers Basketball coach Nikki Fargas, former LSU Tiger Kevin Faulk, former Lady Tiger Temeka Johnson, Baton Rouge Community College Women's Basketball coach Paula Lee, LSU Football Recruiting Assistant Athletic Director Sharon Lewis, LSU Baseball coach Paul Mainieri, former LSU Baseball player Austin Bain, LSU Basketball assistant coach Tasmin Mitchell, former LSU pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, former LSU Tiger Justin Vincent, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame CEO Ronnie Rantz and Guaranty Broadcasting sportscaster Charles Hanagriff.
Also, “Paradise Louisiana” host Gary Rispone, Ms. Baton Rouge Lauren Rhorer, Miss LSU 2018 Olivia Rackley and Shopper’s Choice grillmaster Randy Watson.
Torres not only collected tips, he did a bit of singing, too, joining David St. Romain and band on stage for a set at the beginning of the night and even managing to entice a few folks to take to the dance floor. St. Romain was later joined by dad Gaynor, part of the popular local band The V-Tones, in performing a few hits.
Fox 44’s Chad Sabadie served as emcee for the night. Sharon Pol was chairwoman. Assisting her were Amy Binck, Kema Bueche, Kristen Cain, Phillip Cancilleri, Amy Dawson, Joy Denley, Matt Deville, Dawn Dicharry, Laura Ewing, Stacie Greene, Kerry Kikendall, Gary LaBauve, Jason McKenzie, Danielle McNamara, Joan Pennington, Eleanor Saffiotti, Cathy Sherburne and Allie Young.
I was back at L’Auberge the next evening for Susan G. Komen’s BigWigs 2018 kickoff event. Sixteen of our city’s go-getters made quite an entrance as they danced into the audience attired in all manner of circus-inspired costumes and sporting some crazy pink wigs. Leading them was choreographer/co-chairwoman Kris Cangelosi. Her co-chairwoman was Kathy Victorian.
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This year’s BigWigs, who have promised to help end breast cancer forever by raising awareness and funds in their community, include Tiffany Dickerson, Heather Folkes-Givens, Abby Hamilton, Audrey Hayworth, Jeff Johnson, Heather Kleinpeter Savoy, Vanessa LaFleur, Travis McLavy, Kristy McKearn, Cheryl Mercedes, Kim Morgan, Jordan Piazza, Andy Plaisance and Kristi Richard.
Serving as emcees for the circus-themed event were Karen and Bill Profita. The night opened with a style show featuring furs and evening gowns from Raffaele's Boutique & Furs. It was a great way to tempt guests to buy a raffle ticket for the fur given away at the end of the evening. The lucky winner was Michael Victorian — well, maybe the lucky winner was actually Kathy.
You have until Aug. 17 to visit komenbatonrouge.org to vote for your favorite BigWig. And, remember 75 percent of the funds raised stay right here in our area.
Forum 35 kicked off its 15th annual Art Melt with a preview party and awards ceremony at the Capitol Park Museum on July 20. A congenial crowd of art lovers and supporters of Forum 35 filled the museum’s lobby as they rubbed shoulders with some of the artists and judges while nibbling on the spread put out by chef Don Bergeron.
Casey Phillips, founder and executive director of The Walls Project, which has painted murals on public spaces throughout downtown Baton Rouge, received this year’s Art Legend Award. Taking first place in the juried Art Melt show was Jessica Moore’s “Endless Catacombs of Trial & Error II.” Second place went to Matt Morris' “Ape with Citrëon” and third place to Brooke Hoogendoorn’s “#840 Hello 18.”
Tasked with selecting the top three winners from among the 270 entries were Mattie Codling, curator of the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi; Lydia Gordon, assistant curator for exhibitions and research at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; and Allison Young, Andres W. Mellon Foundation fellow in modern and contemporary art at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The exhibit hangs at the museum through Aug. 24 during regular operating hours. All of the pieces are for sale.
Earlier on the 20th, I was at the ExxonMobil YMCA where a group of campers got to personally thank the company that underwrote their camp this summer. Healthy Blue plan President Aaron Lambert and several of his staffers were entertained with songs and dances by the campers, who wrapped up the celebration with their own version of the Village People hit “YMCA.” They also presented Lambert with a basket overflowing with vegetables and herbs fresh picked from their garden earlier that morning.
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I don’t know whose smiles were bigger, Aaron’s, Y Executive Director Ron Smith’s or the campers.
On July 22, we got to celebrate all things Italian at the Greater Baton Rouge American Italian Association’s annual Italian Heritage Festa at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium. There was Italian cooking with chef Peter Sclafani, face painting, genealogy, a St. Joseph’s altar, exotic Italian cars, a wine stroll benefiting Anna’s Grace Foundation and lots of Italian music and dancing.
But the biggest hits were the presentation of the Italian Festa maids, a demonstration by the Baton Rouge Police K-9 unit, the First Responders Dance-Off for Charity and the Celebrity Grape Stomp. I was joined by grandson TJ Kennon in the grape stomp; we didn’t win but we managed to raise $250 for Capital Area United Way. The big winner was the team from Anna’s Grace, which assists families who have lost a child. They took home a check for $1,000. Second place went to the team from Baton Rouge General, which got $500 for St. Vincent de Paul.
Also taking home $250 for their charities were teams from Whitney Hancock and the Kelli Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
Sgt. L'Jean McKneely, Sgt. Don Coppola and Christian Allen of the Baton Rouge Police Department were the only first responders with enough chutzpah to accept the dance-off for charity challenge. While the title of best dance moves went to McNeely, their team courage was rewarded with a check for $1,000 for their charity, Behind the Line, a new effort they are working to establish in our area to help officers and their families in the aftermath of tragedies like the shootings of 2016.
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