Beautiful young women sporting white sashes have taken over Baton Rouge! That’s right, the 51 contestants in this year’s Miss USA pageant are here. Tonight, one of them will be crowned the winner, but I promise you all of them have had the time of their lives here in Red Stick and will be speaking fondly of our genuine hospitality when they return home to their respective states. They have been fêted to within an inch of their lives by a long list of hosts. One of the first events was dinner at some of our favorite restaurants May 28.

Miss USA

General manager Leo Verde and Sullivan’s hosted one contingent of Miss USA contestants. Joining Miss Alaska Kendall Baustista, Miss Arkansas Helen Wisner, Miss Connecticut Desirée Pérez, Miss Delaware Kelsey Miller, Miss District of Columbia Ciera Nicole Butts, Miss Georgia Tiana Griggs, Miss Maine Samantha Dahlborg, Miss Nebraska Amanda Soltero, Miss Ohio Madison Gesiotto, Miss Oklahoma Brooklynne Young, Miss South Dakota Brittney Palmer, Miss Tennessee Kristy Landers Niedenfuer, Miss West Virginia Charisse Haislop, Miss Wisconsin Bishara Dorre and Miss Wyoming Lexi Hill was Visit Baton Rouge! CEO Paul Arrigo.

Other restaurants hosting the young women were Mestizo’s and 18 Steak at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel.

In typical Leo fashion, he pulled out all the stops and invited some special VIPs to join the contestants for a post-dinner party in Sullivan’s Ringside Lounge. The Longneck Society had things rocking by the time the pageant gang arrived, and that’s when everything kicked into high gear. Leonard Augustus, our very own “King of Dance,” took no time in getting the dance floor hopping. Helping him out were Tracy Donovan Smith, Layne McDaniel and Benjamin LeBlanc. Then the band started calling up groups of contestants to help them out onstage by playing the washboard, tambourine, accordion, etc.

It was a night I’ll never forget, and I’d venture to say no one else who was there will either.

Women of Excellence

The night before, the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus Foundation hosted its annual Women of Excellence Awards & Scholarships Reception at the Hilton Capitol Center. The awards honor “extraordinary women of outstanding professional excellence across the state for their remarkable achievements and contributions.”

Welcoming guests was caucus chairwoman state Rep. Karen St. Germain. WAFB’s Diane Deaton served as mistress of ceremonies.

This year’s honorees were Clarissa A. Preston, Business Woman of Excellence; Wendy Varisco, of Covington, High School Woman of Excellence and recipient of the LLWC Foundation Scholarship; Elain Ellerbe, of Jackson, Louisiana Hero of Excellence; and Girl Scouts Louisiana East, Nonprofit of Excellence.

Receiving Educational Advancement Opportunity Scholarships were Megan Elizabeth Elliott, Catholic High School of Pointe Coupee; Margarite Lynn Laborde, Port Allen High; Linh Thuy Nguyen, North Vermilion High; Emma Elizabeth Noel, Vermilion Catholic High; Tristin Paul-Olivier, New Iberia Senior High; Brandi Nichole Pittman, Franklinton High; Lindsey Potter, Covington High; Jordan DeNae Slatten, DeRidder High; Sarah Ann Stalnaker, Airline High, Bossier City; Courtney Ann Suire, Crowley High; and Brenna Vial, Hahnville High.

To view photos, please clilck here.

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