What a fun week! Some of my favorite events filled last week’s calendar, and two of them had record-breaking crowds.
On the Rocks
The city’s most fashionable were in the spotlight at the annual Best Dressed Ball April 16 at the River Center.
Strutting their stuff down the runway were Carol Abadie and Michael Marsh, Rebecca Butler and Nial Patel, Stephanie Possa-Delgado and Dr. Kevin McCarthy, Holly Edmonds and Jason Dupree, Melissa Ferachi and Al Moreau, Courtney Hart and James Peltier, April Hill and Peter Sclafani, Remi Jenkins and Dr. Michael Hanemann Jr. , Melissa Mouton and Dixon McMakin , and Kathy Victorian and Kenny Hodges. Check them out in all their finery online at theadvocate.com/columnists/pambordelon/.
In two emotional presentations, McCall Manning Dempsey shared the story of her infant daughter Marjorie’s successful battle with cancer, reminding us all why we were really there, and Leo Verde received the second annual Julia Woods Dickinson “Heart & Soul Award” for all he does for the community. Before the night’s honorees took the stage, Julio M e lara teamed up with McCall to elicit just over $100,000 from those stepping up the plate as “heroes” in the fight against cancer. I always say Baton Rouge is one of the most giving communities around, and there we go proving it again.
Katie Baron was this year’s ball chairwoman. M’Elaine Jumonville served as best dressed chairwoman, Tonya Toups as production chairwoman and Marsha Baker as mission chairwoman.
Committee chairwomen were Jenny Murphy, decorations; Brenda Phillips, pre-party; Da vid Duggins and Heather Kleinpeter, sponsorship; Mandy Samson, photography; Lindsay Madatic, publicity; Meghann Tullos, tables and ticket sales; Dave Roberts, ambassador; Janay Giblin, Fund-a-Need; Anisa Politz, graphics; and Kristi Robert, silent auction.
Committee members included Melissa Campbell, Richie Edmonds, Leslie King, Michelle L anoix, Jamie Lewis, Lexie Polito, Shannon Rasbury, Julie Robert, Kristin Smith and Meeta Williamson.
Earlier that day I joined a congenial, dedicated group in celebrating the efforts of Linda and Bob Bowsher and the late Laura Boyce on behalf of the LSU Museum of Art at its second annual Legacy Luncheon. The Bowshers have been involved with the museum since 1990, serving in numerous capacities. Boyce, who was actually nominated for the award by Bob Bowsher, was an integral part in the establishment of the museum as it is today and led the way in establishing the museum’s endowment society.
The awards were presented by Executive Director Daniel Stetson and advisory board Chairman George Clark. Accepting Boyce’s award was daughter Emalie.
Preaching to the choir, sort of, was Stephen Moret, head of the LSU Foundation. He told us how a band scholarship to LSU changed his life. “I might not have been able to go to college were it not for philanthropy,” said Moret in thanking attendees for their philanthropic efforts with the museum. “Philanthropy has never been more important that it is today and going forward.”
The night before, I popped in for actor Kelsey Grammer’s Q&A following the screening of his new movie “Breaking the Bank” at the Louisiana International Film Festival at Perkins Rowe’s CineMark Theater. The coolest question came at the end when a woman in the audience asked him if he remembered Betsy Toby and a certain address in New York. Turns out Grammer once dated Betsy’s sister and they all lived together while Grammer and the sister were attending Julliard. Grammer even counseled “Bets,” as he referred to her, when she and her boyfriend broke up.
“How is Stuart?” asked Grammer. “Fine and still married to me,” replied Betsy of husband Stuart I rvine.
Don’t you just love it?
Friday began at the Public Affairs Research Council’s VIP reception and luncheon at the Crowne Plaza. It was nice to rub shoulders with the speaker, Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., at the reception as well as visit with PAR board members Beth Courtney, Fran Glad den , Roland Toups, Drew Tessier, James Peltier, Jim Richardson and Executive Director Robert Travis Scott and his right-hand woman, Susan Kantrow.
The event, chaired by Fred Loy and Virginia Rowan, was dedicated to the late Ed Steimel, who helped found PAR and later the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry. Scott read an excerpt from a radio interview Steimel gave some 50 years ago that still seems so very apropos — Louisiana’s leaders
are so focused on the present that they never see the future.
Thursday night had us partying at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel for The Taste benefiting the Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. The highlight of the night was the Celebrity Chef Cook-Off, a repeat win for chef Cody Carroll and his sous chef, Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police.
Their competitors in the crawfish étouffée challenge were chef Ryan André and sous chef Michael Cauble, WBRZ sports director; and the “MasterChef” duo of chef Avery Kyle and sous chef Jesse Romero. Judges were Rose Hudson, Steven Diehl and Rue Rusike, a fellow contestant of competition emcee Jay Ducote’s on “The Next Food Network Star” who was in town for a visit. While the teams cooked, auctioneer Brian F our roux got guests to part with an additional $17,700 for the cancer center.
The evening was co-chaired by Rebecca Rathbone Harrod and Shelly Johnston. Assisting them were Mary Jackson Barham, Alysia Graves, Danielle Gremillion, Hattie Guidry, Ann Michael Legarde, M ary Miller, Shelley Minor, Brice Mohundro, Karen Nelson, Kristi Obafunwa, Cindy O’Neal, Allison Pham, Brandi Rinaudo, Kristen Root, Claire Scroggs, Kristin Stafford and Melissa Stephen.
From The Taste, I went to the River Center Theatre for an on-stage champagne reception celebrating the end of the Baton Rouge Symphony’s Masterworks Series season and the announcement of its 2016-2017 season. The finale concert featured local opera star Lisette Oropesa, Hailey Clark and Jonathan Ray performing selections by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with the orchestra, under the baton of conductor Timothy Muffitt.
Symphony President Cary Byrd announced next year’s season, which includes a performance by Louisiana’s own Branford Marsalis and the world premiere of Bruce Stark’s “Symphonic Dances” for the Oct. 21 concert. That in itself is worth season tickets.
Sometimes we become immune to the beauty around us only to be reminded when out-of-town visitors come to call. Such was the case last week when members of the Dallas Garden Club came to Baton Rouge for a tour of the homes and gardens designed by the renowned architect, the late A. Hays Town. Leading the tour was Town’s granddaughter, Leslie Gladney.
The tour was the brainchild of club President Mary Kay Story, who became friends with Mary Kay Brown through a mutual friend in Dallas and fell in love with the Browns’ home, which was designed by Town, during a visit. Last June, Story and fellow club member Ann Henry came to Baton Rouge to set up the tour, which proved very popular.
“We take about five or six trips a year but everyone wanted to do this one,” said Story. “We had 85 on a waiting list.”
The week started with an impressive group of young people, heroes actually, being fêted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. I caught up with them at the Governor’s Mansion, where Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards hosted them for lunch along with their parents. The governor also proclaimed it Young Heroes Day throughout the state.
This year’s Young Heroes included Baton Rougean Katie Le-Blanc, Dylan Alvarez, Alexis Bauer, Peyton Cudd, Madison Frugé, Collin King, Marisa Mercer and George Mognhode.
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