What a weekend to close out the month of January! There was the have-to-experience-to-fully-understand Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball and the 20th anniversary celebrations of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge General’s Father/Daughter Sweetheart Dance.

Spanish Town

Each year, the Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana comes up with a cracker jack theme for its Spanish Town Mardi Gras celebrations. This year’s theme was “A Spanish Town Twinkie Ate My Ding Dong,” and boy did folks have fun with it as they assembled their costumes for the Jan. 26 ball at the River Center Arena. Reigning over the raucous celebration and their 1,000 or so subjects were “The Dancing Queen” Whitney Vann and King Robert King, who were accompanied by parade Grand Marshal Gerald Woods. His big moment is parade day, Feb. 9, at noon.

As usual, the dance floor was never empty thanks to Delbert McClinton and, later, the Bucktown All Stars. I know my tootsies hurt the next morning thanks to dancing partners Leo Honeycutt, Leonard Augustus and LeBrian Patrick, aka Mr. Chocolishous, my dancing partner from Dancing with Big Buddy.

Co-worker Smiley Anders, accompanied by Lady Katherine, had the task of selecting the winner of the Ron Zappe Table Decoration Award. This year’s award went to the Krewe of Flamingoholics. You can see their amazing flamingo centerpiece, along with several other photos from the ball, online at http://theadvocate.com/columnists/pambordelon/.

Dancing with dad

Speaking of dancing, the sight of dads line dancing with their daughters (both of various ages) at the Father/Daughter Sweetheart Dance Jan. 27 was priceless! For many, this event is a much-anticipated annual “date” filled with tradition; some fathers and daughters even arrive in limos.

Not only was there dancing but dinner and the chance to take a photo with dad.

The event was chaired by Pete Bush, with assistance from committee members Andy Bush, Nicole Caronna, Todd Daniel, Jason Greene, Clayton Jumonville, Scott Kirkpatrick, Mike Rowland, Brady Sessums and Kyle Zeringue. Proceeds from the event benefit the patients and families of Baton Rouge General.

‘20 Years of Mentoring’

100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge celebrated 20 years of making a difference in the lives of local youth through its mentoring and other programs at a gala dinner, “20 Years of Mentoring the 100 Way,” at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Event Center Jan. 25. Welcoming the several hundred guests, which included U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Mayor Kip Holden, were dinner chairman Michael W. Victorian and President Adell Brown Jr.

Holden, in addition to proclaiming it 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge Day throughout the parish, thanked the 100 for answering God’s call to “be a light for those who believe in nothing but darkness.”

L’Auberge general manager Mickey Parenton presented Brown with a check for $10,000 as part of the organization’s “100 for the 100” campaign. It seeks a $10,000 commitment for three years from 100 donors and was jump started by a $100,000 challenge grant from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Cox Communications announced it was re-upping its $30,000 pledge for the next three years.

Among those recognized were the late Brace Godfrey Jr., founding president, who was represented by wife Cynthia Godfrey; and charter board members Vice President Larry D. Smith, Secretary Alvin J. Cavalier, Treasurer Darryl D. Thomas, Michael R.D. Adams, Reginald R. Brown Sr., C.J. Blache, Don J. Hutchinson, Hall L. Davis IV, Robin A. Nesbitt and Samuel Williams. Also recognized were past presidents Larry D. Smith, John Smith, Clifton Avant and Shelton Dennis Blunt.

Emerge celebration

Friday was also a big day for the Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation, which officially broke ground on its new larger facility, The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior & Development. Located at the LSU Innovation Park, the center will triple the number of children and families, especially those with autism, the foundation can serve. Doors are scheduled to open in mid-2014.

After turning a bit of dirt, the foundation hosted a luncheon for major donors, board members and supporters at Juban’s Restaurant. They had lots to be proud of, having raised $6.4 million of its overall $7 million capital campaign goal.

‘Battle Against Autism’

The night before, Sandi and Chip Robinson, Ryan and Kim Thibodeaux, and Patrick and Melissa Campbell hosted a cocktail party to benefit BR Speech & Hearing’s “Battle Against Autism” fundraiser. The main purpose of the evening was to sell tickets for the chance to win a 2013 Lincoln MKZ. Tickets are $100 each and the drawing takes place Feb. 28 at the grand re-opening of Robinson Brothers Lincoln-Ford.

“Battle Against Autism” is a series of events created by the Robinsons to raise funds for the Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation to assist in the growth of its autism program and The Emerge Center. While they sold several thousand dollars worth of tickets, these three couples also educated guests about autism and the need for services in the Baton Rouge area by sharing their very personal stories. To get your own ticket, visit the website, http://www.battleagainstautism.com.

Epicurean award

Vince Ferachi got a little choked up when Baton Rouge Epicurean Society President Mickey Freiberg told him he’d been chosen as the 2013 recipient of the Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement Award at a board members luncheon at Gino’s Italian Restaurant Jan. 28. Wife Sue wiped away a few tears, as well. Ferachi is the second-generation owner of Capitol City Produce, which serves thousands of customers throughout Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On hand to offer a congratulatory toast was last year’s honoree, Tullio Saffiotti, who in talking with Vince discovered he grew up in a Sicilian village about 40 miles from Vince’s dad.

The award will be presented at a six-course dinner, each course complemented by a fine wine, kicking off BRES’s Fête Rouge Weekend. Tickets for the dinner are $200 per person and are available online at http://www.feterougebr.com.

Power of 9

The Capital Area United Way honored a large group of dedicated volunteers at its annual Power of 9 luncheon at Boudreaux’s Jan. 24. The honorees were featured once a month throughout 2012 on WAFB-TV News in reports by anchor Donna Britt, who served as emcee for the luncheon, which was underwritten by Capital One Bank.

This year’s honorees included Gayle Smith, Reach Out & Read Program at Earl K. Long Medical Center Pediatric Clinic; family of Tricia, Dick, Susie and Rich Whitlow, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baton Rouge; Mae C. McGuffery, Youth Oasis and reading to children at Glen Oaks Park Elementary; ExxonMobil ExC!TE, supplied more than 65,000 volunteer hours at more than 1,300 community projects; Clyde Johnson, VIPS’ EveryBody Reads program and St. Paul Adult Learning Center; Kietha Gage, Randa Patrick, Cheryl Brumfield and Sherry Roper, Girls on the Run coaches; Emerald Roney, Arc Swim Camp and Youth Volunteer Corps; Laura Oubre, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank; Gloria Wall-McClelland, American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation and RocketKidz Foundation; Christian Sexton, Spencer Thomas and Nathan Gilly, gave up birthday gifts to give Christmas gifts to families in need; BlueCross and BlueShield of Louisiana, Capital Area United Way; and Downtown Baton Rouge Lions Club, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Louisiana Lions Camp and White Cane Safety Day.

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