The craziness that is the spring social scene here has us running from one end of the parish to the other. Thanks goodness Mother Nature has cooperated and given us lots of sunshine and cool weather.
The fur was flying April 21 at the Hilton Capitol Center as the Companion Animal Alliance held its seventh annual Fur Ball. When all the votes (meaning donations) were tabulated, Jeannie Frey Rhodes’ Slim was crowned Fur Ball King; Mike Sause's pup Effie was pronounced Fur Ball Queen.
Rounding out the court were Matthew Chaney and Princess Sia; Kerri Brantley and Baroness Harper; Jamie Folks and Duchess Maci; Michelle Lanoix and Duke Tiger; Robin Garland and Count Wiley; Stephen Hightower and Countess Sophie; and Tina Rodosta and Earl Lobo.
Before the dogs took to the runway, Chad Kenny-Possa announced the establishment of the Happy Award, named in memory of Gracella Simmons’ pup Happy, a member of this year’s court who was tragically killed a few months ago. Underwritten by Chad and partner Joe Possa, the award went to Gracella, who even in her grief managed to raise $12,000 for the alliance in Happy’s memory.
Alliance board President Christel Slaughter showed off the architect’s rendering of the new free-standing center, located across the street from the LSU Vet School. Construction is underway and hopefully will be finished by the end of the year. She also bid an emotional farewell to the organization's Executive Director Beth Brewster, who is moving at the end of April. East Baton Rouge parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome presented Brewster with a declaration of thanks from the city-parish.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne served as auctioneer for the live auction, which featured five tempting items, including a Pensacola, Florida, beach getaway and a Crested Butte ski trip.
The nervous Star Dancers participating in this year’s Dancing for Big Buddy found out when they would be taking the stage at the annual Line-Up Party hosted April 20 by former board member, event chairwoman and dancer Terri LeBlanc. Mother Nature was on her best behavior and provided an absolutely spectacular spring evening for the poolside party.
Handing out tickets, parking passes, instructions and the big night’s lineup were gala co-chairwomen Kris Cangelosi and Monique Scott-Spaulding and Executive Director Gaylynne Mack.
Dancing for Big Buddy took place Saturday night, so check out theadvocate.com to see who won and look for all the details and lots of photos in next Sunday’s Party Line.
My last stop April 21 was another outdoor affair. Scottie McKnight was manning the door to her and husband Markham’s lovely home to welcome members of the Baton Rouge Assembly to its annual new member party.
New members are Amanda and Hays Alexander, Mary and Henry Barham, Matthew and Juliet Catrett, Nikki and Casey Crawford, Whitney and Billy Graves, George Griffon III, Lindsay and Louis Jeansonne IV, Shawn and Jeremy Leake, Catherine and Johnny McKay, Tracey and Ty McMains, Renée and Dedric Morris, Laura and Hampton Obier, Sara and Michael Sylvest and Jackie and Brian Tucker Jr.
New members Rebecca and Jeffrey Boudreaux and Ashley and Jim Thom were unable to attend.
Hall of Fame
The LSU Manship School of Mass Communication's 44th annual Hall of Fame Gala that was held April 19 at the Renaissance somewhat resembled a reunion of WBRZ and Advocate employees. Among the honorees were the Manship family — Richard, David and Doug Manship and sister Dina Manship Planche. They were joined by the next generation — Richard’s son, Hunter, and David’s son, Jake.
Among those on hand to celebrate this well-deserved honor were, from the TV side, John Spain, Rocky Daboval, Andrea Clesi McMakin, Veronica Mosgrove, Bill Bryan, Steve Storey, Brenda and David Kors, Pat Shingleton and Carole Lamar; and, from the newspaper, Mike Nola, Linda Wunstel, Linda Lightfoot, Freda Yarbrough and Fred Kalmbach.
The Manships fellow inductees included Richard “Dick” Alario, a 1976 graduate of the Manship School and founder of Alario Performance Management, and Manship School Professor Emeritus William “Bill” Dickinson, inaugural editorial director of the Washington Post Writers Group.
Also on April 19, I stopped in at Forum 35’s Founders’ Ball at the Capitol Park Museum. The cool spring weather seemed made to order for this outdoor affair celebrating the 25th anniversary of Forum 35, which was founded to inspire young professionals to become involved with philanthropic organizations and activities. Among the founders on hand for the celebration were Fred Dent III and David Field, as well as several former leaders of the group, which now boasts more than 400 members.
Keeping the party spirit going was live music by The Michael Foster Project and the delicious spread put out by Don Bergeron, of Bergeron's City Market
Gourmet in the Garden
Things were wrapping up and the winners had been declared when I arrived later April 19 at Gourmet in the Garden, which benefits the LSU Agricultural Center’s Botanic Gardens. A record 400-plus guests turned out for the outdoor soirée. Luckily, Executive Director Jeff Kuehny gathered a few of the night’s big winners for photos.
Carrying home the most hardware was Jay Ducote, chef Aimée Tortorich and the team from Gov’t Taco. They received the Judges Choice Best Seafood Award and the People's Choice Best Dish Award. Other winners included: Galvez Seafood, Judges Choice Best Farm to Table; Soji, Judges Choice Best Non-Seafood; and Bin 77 Bistro & SideBar's Charlie St. Cloud cocktail, People's Choice Cocktail.
Keeping things hopping along were mistress of ceremonies Betsy Otken Barnes, of Rock It Right Radio, and the band United We Jam.
The week started off at the always inspirational 23rd annual Young Heroes Awards Banquet on the evening of April 16 at the Renaissance. This joint project of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Baton Rouge Rotary Club celebrates the achievements of students from across the state who have inspired those around them and have devoted their time, talents and energy to making their schools, churches and communities better places.
Welcoming the eight heroes, their families and friends as well as Rotarians were LPB President Beth Courtney and Monique Scott-Spaulding, who served as chairwoman for the Rotary Club. Of those eight honorees, six were from the greater Baton Rouge area.
They included Garett Byrne, of Walker, a senior at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and Arts in Natchitoches; Megan Gremillion, a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy; Sethan Hollier, a senior at Catholic High School; Jarrius “JJ” Robertson, of Garyville, a freshman at Lutcher High School; Garrinecia Singleton, a senior at Scotlandville Magnet High School; and Kari Stephens of Baton Rouge, a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
The other two heroes were Savannah Green, of Winnfield, a senior at Winnfield Senior High School, and Amanda Rougee, of New Orleans, an eighth-grader at Mount Carmel Academy.
The week wrapped up in the dark — literally. I was a guest of actor/producer Billy Slaughter at the showing of his movie “Dark Meridian” at the Louisiana International Film Festival on the afternoon of April 22.
The movie is all about Louisiana — the writer/director is Louisianian Rankin Hickman, and the crew, actors and most of the producers also are from here. The movie was shot in New Orleans (in only four weeks) for under $1 million. The story is about a corrupt New Orleans detective who gets caught in a fight between two criminal gangs. Slaughter, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Laurie Aronson’s Oscar party, also stars in “Dead on Arrival,” another movie screened at LIFF and shot in Louisiana.
The three-day festival, which drew its largest audience ever, is over, but you can still watch these two movies online.