The irreverent Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball was once again the scene of extreme partying this year. And, at the opposite end of the spectrum, we celebrated the founding of two organizations that promote education for women. All were a welcome respite from the freezing temps that put just about everyone out of commission for a few days.
'Game of Thongs'
With a theme involving thongs and one of cable TV's hottest shows, you just knew you were in for jaw-dropping fun at the Spanish Town ball on Jan. 20. It was almost hot compared to the week's earlier temps by the time 750 revelers filled the Raising Cane's River Center Exhibition Hall. Reigning over the controlled mayhem were King Derek Howerter, Queen Jamie Bell and Co-Grand Marshals Kandy Fly and Christina Dupre. We did take a moment to raise a toast to Spanish Town founders Jim Work, Lon Hunter and Charlie Fisher, and former Spanish Town King "Buckskin Bill" Black, who all passed since last year's ball. We also toasted ball chairman Doug Cossman's birthday — what a way to celebrate!
Keeping the dance floor hopping with knights, renegades, royalty and all manner of pushing-the-envelope, pink-clad partygoers were Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band and the Bucktown All-Stars. Among my favorites were Thong One, Thong Two and Thong Three.
For more photos of all the fun, go to theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/entertainment_life/pam_bordelon
The night before Spanish Town, I partied with Karnival Krewe de la Louisiane, which took its guests on a trip to the "Emerald City." Presiding over the celebration were Queen Dee Keller and King Chambliss Harrod. Ball Captain Terrie Sterling was joined by krewe President Marilyn Starks and Lisa and Eric Lane in presenting Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center officials Todd Stevens and Linda Lee a check for $220,000.
Dee, also a designer of shoes, including the amazing pair of emerald green heels she wore at the ball, gifted the krewe's 11 debutantes with sparkly, red, ballet flats — perfect for dancing the night away.
I had fun visiting with my table hosts Jan and Bill Daly, Saundra Lane, Lowery Griffon, Carress Threadgill, John Miller, Duchess Mary Beth Chevalier, Duke Nial Patel, Debbie and Rickey Heroman, Janet Boles, Ann and Rob Guercio, Chad and Brooke Sabadie, Tereasa and Andy Olinde, Kelly and Enrique Hurtado, Dixon McMakin, Sherri Melara, Kathleen and Vic Howell, Charlene and Stan Montelaro, the entire Lipsey family, John F. Smith, Deborah Todd and Fox44's new GM Eric Thomas.
Delta Sigma Theta
Members of the seven Delta Sigma Theta alumnae chapters that comprise the Louisiana Cluster IV gathered at the L'Auberge Event Center Jan. 21 to celebrate the sorority's 105th Founders' Day. Special recognition was given to 50-year member Oma Olive Moore, Baton Rouge Sigma Alumnae; and 25-years members Malissa Bethly Drake and Ursula Ransburg — Baker-Zachary Alumnae; Erica Wells, Aryanna Lee and DeShawn Stone-Robinson — Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae; Shonda Germany-Joshua, Roosevetta Janice Johnson, Shantell Smith-Jones and Sulanda Lonnette — Baton Rouge Sigma; Wendy Brown, Hammond Area Alumnae; and Kawanda Briley and Alva Rose Roché-Green — Louisiana Tri-Parish Alumnae.
Other special guests included Regional Director Pamela Rogers, of Slidell; Louisiana State Coordinator Doris G. Brown; Cluster IV Coordinator Denise S. Clark; and Cluster IV chapter presidents Mikea Hooker, Alpha Tau; Vannetta Hayes, Baker-Zachary; Karmen R. Davis, Baton Rouge Delta; Jerrie M. Booker, Baton Rouge Sigma; Tamara Whittington, Hammond Area; JoAnn Glasper, Louisiana Tri-Parish; and Alexis Craven, Nu Delta.
I joined the PEO Sisterhood in celebrating its founding at its annual luncheon at the L'Auberge Event Center on Jan. 18. PEO's mission is to promote educational opportunities for women through one of its six philanthropies: Cottey College, an independent, liberal arts and sciences college for women; and five programs that provide higher education assistance: PEO Educational Loan Fund, PEO International Peace Scholarship Fund, PEO Program for Continuing Education, PEO Scholar Awards and PEO STAR Scholarship.
Jamie Miller, a 2006 recipient of a continuing education grant, earned a standing ovation after sharing her touching story of how PEO changed her life and that of her two children. "You gave me the confidence to go further for me and my kids," said Miller, who studied to become a surgical technician. "It's life changing what you do."
Later that evening, I joined lovers of the written word at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation's 11th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence at the Manship Theatre. We got to hear this year's winner Ladee Hubbard read from her debut novel "The Talented Ribkins," leaving us enthralled and wanting more. As an added treat, Gaines read an excerpt from his latest novella, "The Tragedy of Brady Sims." I feel safe in saying I'm not the only one who added two must-reads to my 2018 book list.
Along with the specially created award sculpture, Hubbard received a $10,000 cash award from BRAF, which created the award to honor Gaines by recognizing rising African-American fiction writers. Hubbard is a professor of African studies at Tulane University. Judges for the competition were Anthony Grooms, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Nunez, Francine Prose and Patricia Towers.
The program was followed by a lovely reception in the Hartley-Vey Theatre. On hand for the festivities were committee chairwoman Mary Ann Sternberg, John Davies, Linda and John Spain, Edmund Giering, Susan and Marvin Borgmeyer, Gwen Hamilton, Liz Hampton, BeBe Facundus, John Paul Funes, Barbara Autin, Beverly Thompson, Melissa Parmelee, Perry Franklin, Dennis Blunt, George Bell, Todd Sterling, Trisha Day and Joe Simmons, Dennis Reno and Lois Smith, who slipped on the ice and broke her wrist the day before.
The following day Baton Rouge Green Executive Director Sage Roberts Foley solved a mystery for the curious at the organization's annual Arbor Day Celebration. While National Arbor Day is celebrated the last Friday in April, we celebrate it early here because of when our tree planting season falls. So, it made perfect sense to have Mayor Sharon Weston Broome officially declare Jan. 19 as Arbor Day in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Those weren't the only announcements of the day. Sage shared that BR Green will soon be moving into its new headquarters — the greenery-covered building at 2241 Christian St. — thanks to the efforts of board member Hank Saurage, and that the organization had been named a Tree City by Tree City USA.
Foley was joined by board Chairwoman Katheryn Flournoy in presenting, for the first time in several years, the Baton Rouge Green Award to developers John Fetzer and Mike Wampold in recognition of the 88 live oaks planted along south Bluebonnet Boulevard.
Bofinger's Tree Service arborist Jim Eaves, landscape architect Justin Lemoine and Makesha Judson, chief service officer with the Mayor's Office, shared the impact Baton Rouge Green and trees in general have made on their lives and career choices.