Tonight's the night all the little ones will be coming up with a million reasons not to go to sleep, just hoping they'll catch a glimpse of Santa. Some families will open their gifts tonight as they come together to break bread and attend a church service before the paper and ribbons start flying.
Whatever your holiday tradition, I hope it's wonderful, filled with love and answered prayers.
Speaking of traditions, one of December's is the annual Jazz Brunch hosted by the Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links to honor its Louisiana Role Models. Chapter President Yolanda Dixon welcomed guests to this year's celebration on Dec. 9 at the Renaissance Hotel. State Rep. Ted James served as emcee for the festivities and introduced this year's honorees in various areas.
The theme for the event, "Celebrating the Successes of Louisiana Role Models," highlighted the accomplishments of Louisiana natives who have had a positive and insightful impact on the local, state and national level. Each honoree exemplifies the thrust of The Links' service to the community through the work of its committees: Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services, Health and Human Services and the Arts.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome was on hand to congratulate the award recipients, who included New Orleans artist Martin Payton, artist in resident at Tulane University whose work draws heavily on his African American heritage and people who've been instrumental in helping to shape it — the Arts; Eldred Jackson, who volunteers with Southern alumni chapters across the country to recruit academically talented students known as “Top Jags" and a volunteer captain for Southern’s Million Dollar March Campaign — National Trends; Joycelyn Johnson, chief of police of Southern University's Baton Rouge campus who has worked to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault and providing information on preventive measures, as well as creating a safe environment through the use of cellphone technology — National Trends; Andreanecia Morris, founder of HousingNOLA which works to create affordable housing in the greater New Orleans area in both the public and private sector — National Trends; Khristie Dyson Landrew, who for more than 13 years has worked with young women and youth who are heading into the corporate sector — Service to Youth; and Cheri McDaniel, a member of the Capital City Rotary Club who helped coordinate a retinography clinic that annually saves the sight of thousands, and organizer of Louisiana’s first Peace One Day event, an international movement to bring awareness of the need for peace and non-violence in the world — International Trends.
The brunch was chaired by Maxine Cormier. Assisting her and Dixon were Brenda Birkett, Dianne Brandon, Cheryl Hall Derouen, Candice Dixon, Carla Mica Franklin, Charlotte Henderson, Jacqueline Hill, Courtney Humphrey, Vivian Kerr, Leah Polk Montgomery, Shelia Sterling, Britney Temple. Judy Johson-White, Carmen Jones, Yolunda Johnson Taylor, Irene Tucker and Erin Monroe Wesley.
Passe Bon Temps
The City Club was twinkling in holiday splendor when I joined Passe Bon Temps for their annual holiday luncheon Dec. 12. Once again, I found myself sitting with Anna Cuendet and Mississippi sisters Barbara Parker and Rachel Aronson. New to our table were Thelma Herthum, Rochelle McCann, Lowery Griffon, Sybil McCraw and Jean Morris.
Lois Saye was my host and organizer of the luncheon. She kicked things up a notch this year with live entertainment by Jim Saadi, who sounds amazingly like Frank Sinatra and who had several of the women swooning. Lois discovered him at LaContea, where the former Houma resident performs every Thursday evening. Thanks for a memorable luncheon, ladies!
Later that afternoon, I popped in at Juban's where members of the Baton Rouge Association of Women Attorneys were holding their informal holiday get-together. Joining in on the celebration were several members of judiciary — state Supreme Court Justices Toni Higginbotham and Jeff Hughes, and Family Court Judges Pam Baker and Charlene Day. It was nice to get in a quick visit with them as well as BRAWA President Jan Reeves and members Nicole Frey and Mary Roper.
Have you hear "The Eight Nights of Hanukkah?" To the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas," you sing about "a warm bagel topped with cream cheese, two matzah balls, three golden latkes, four pounds of corned beef" etc.
Women's Council of Greater Baton Rouge member Maureen Corcoran led us all in singing the catchy ditty at the council's annual holiday luncheon Dec. 14 at Juban's. She was in charge of the gathering so, hey, she could have sing whatever she wanted. While we weren't always in key, the same could not be said of bell ringer extraordinaire Melinda McPherson, whose holiday repertoire included my all-time favorite, "O Holy Night."
Maureen and council President Paula Braxton also presented Wendy Herschman, founder of The Red Shoes, with a check for $598 to help fund its various programs. They also led us all in singing "Happy Birthday" to the only gentleman in the room — veteran civil rights attorney Johnny Jones, who was celebrating his 98th birthday.
Stop No. 2 on the 14th was Baton Rouge Gallery, where the BREC Foundation was holding its annual meeting and presentation of its sixth annual LEAF (Leadership, Excellence, Activism and Fellowship) Award, which honors an individual, business or organization that has made a tremendous impact to BREC. This year's recipient, who joins a distinguished list of past honorees, was Mike Wampold — a "change agent in the Baton Rouge community through the development of innovative projects that have transformed the cityscape."
In addition to leading the charge for renovating Baton Rouge Beach, which is now named in memory of his grandfather, Wampold served two terms on the foundation's board of directors, supported the Charting A New Course campaign and offered advice on the Lakes District project Zoo Concept.
All of those efforts go hand-in-hand with the foundation's new mandate to advance the building of innovative park spaces and engaging recreational programs through public-private partnerships.
"This is a great honor … my eighth-grade teacher would be amazed," said Wampold, who also touted the improved quality of life BREC brings to residents of the Baton Rouge area.
Stop No. 3 was the annual holiday open house hosted by the Tyler & Possa Law Firm, which was in full swing by the time I arrived, thanks in no small part to the Ned Fasullo Band. Front porch libations welcomed the several hundred guests. In the boardroom, chef Don Bergeron had put out quite the spread and professional cake slicers Pam Bounds and mom, Ms. Kay, were busy passing out dessert.
Aside from exchanging air kisses with chef Don and hosts Joe Possa, John Tyler and Stephanie Possa, it was great to catch up with Jeffrey Brooks, Chad Kenny Possa, Ronell Johnson, Charlene and Stan Montelaro, Paul Lemoine, Hal Holloway and Danny Fontenot, Mike Polozola, Jim Gershey, William Roy and Tom Sessions, Andy Plaisance, Jimmy Thomas, Bobby Suchmann, Jimmy Boudreaux, Franz Borghardt, Amanda Standish, Kris Cangelosi and Guy Blanchard, Wendy Lipsey and Bill Gusman, and Kelly and Enrique Hurtado.