With Spring in their Steps

Hat Hits!

The Mad Hatter’s Luncheon and Fashion Show, which celebrated its 35th year, was orchestrated by the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association and honored Betty T. Brooks. Billed “Enchanting Moments with Alice,” the midday merriment took its 450-plus attendees to Wonderland, as staged in the Sheraton Hotel. Thanks were plentiful to event Co-Chairwomen Gail B. McKenna and Mary Katherine Lonatro-Tusa. More top names to know were Women’s Guild President Karen T. Villavaso, Opera Association President James C.” Jay” Gulotta Jr., and special advisers Steven Putt (for the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show) and master of ceremonies Richard Buchsbaum. Cantor Joel Colman gave the invocation and Marshall Harris regaled the crowd as the featured entertainer, singing “Pretty Little Thing Called Love.”

Costumed “prettiness” came in the form of characters from the tales of Alice, who had two interpretations: Deryn Anaya Patin and Skarlett Roa were cast respectively as Petite Alice and Alice. Others, and all getting a host of compliments, were Harold Bouillion (Mad Hatter), Celeste Bertucci McShane (Queen of Hearts), Carl Mack (March Hare aka The Rabbit, who, in character, greeted guests with “You’re late”) and Margarita Bergen (Caterpillar).

As the luncheon’s title states, it’s also about hats and the annual contest generates a lot of creativity and excitement. Marshall Harris figured as a judge, along with Simone Bruni Crouere, Tracee Dundas, Cindy Paulin, Janet Shea and Earline Torres. Thrilled as the winners for the various categories were Peggy Doucette (Most Whimsical), Gerri Valene (Most Beautiful), Fay Wartelle (Festive Fascinator), Elizabeth Zibilich (Best Original Theme), and Valerie Grubb’s group, dubbed “Down the Rabbit Hole.” The Mad Hatter’s Choice hailed Anna Bastian.

Among those applauding the winners (and everything else) were Jay Gulotta, Maestro Robert Lyall, Margie Mielke, Suzanne C. Scott, Pam Rogers, Virginia Eckholdt, Marlene Duronslet, Ann Anderson, Jane Miller, Christine LeBlanc, Ron and Cindi Mistrot, Graziella de Ayerdi, Robin Adams, Ted Martin, Barbara Ballard, Penny Baumer, Jackie Elliott, Paulette Stewart, Donna Roebbe, Melissa Gordon, Jack Pruitt, Valerie Killion, Holley Haag, Paula Duplantis, Loretta Corbett, Diane Dupin, Kathy Singleton, Jane Kahn, Carol Hall, Jacquee Carvin, Teresa Guzzetta and countless others, all too busy in Wonderland.

More features were the luncheon of local greens salad, roasted chicken breast and, for dessert, the Chef’s Delight, and the table decorations of top hats with silk flowers. Further just deserts occurred in the extensive silent auction of 129 items; the hat auction with individual gifts from Jewel Cappel (with daughters Carol Pickney and Christie Stubbs in attendance), Joyce Laporte and Pam Lupin; the mink stole donated by Betty Brooks for the raffle — and winner Sandra Trout Wilson; and the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show, the “Best of Spring & Summer 2019” with Steven Putt and Carolyn Elder as the spearheaders. A St. John Collection of 10 pieces launched the runway activity that concluded after 55 modes, with a Marchesa Notte black and gold gown.

All the while, The Rabbit Carl Mack (and a host of others) made sure that everyone was hoppy.

It’s an Affirmation

Yep as an acronym, stands for Youth Empowerment Project. It’s also an affirmation of what the project does — educates, mentors, works, enriches — for underserved young people to help them develop skills and strengthen ties to family and community. The age gamut is from seven to 24, with an array of age-appropriate services.

Presented by IberiaBank, the third annual YEP fest (with free admission) took place on a recent Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., in the 1600 block of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. Top sponsors were ride service Lyft, Elizabeth A. Boh, Kavanagh Family Foundation, Rusovich Family Foundation, Weill Construction Company, Margaret and Kenneth Beer, Bond Moroch, Community Coffee, Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation and Labo Charitable Fund. The New Orleans Advocate and Gambit were among the media sponsors.

Entertainment by five groups, a bike valet, a Kids’ Zone, “Pedal for YEP pedicab races,” and raffles engaged hundreds upon hundreds.

To launch the free street festival, Margaret and Ken Beer held the YEP Fest Patron Party at their handsome home with purveyance by chef Scot Craig, of Katie’s Restaurant. The excellent shrimp and grits in small cups were gustatory hits. Seven choice auction items — paintings by Mac Ball and Elise Allen, a Saints guitar signed by Cam Jordan, two Florida trips, a John Busch side table, and a Bottega Veneta handbag — made bidding bountiful.

Milling about the Beers’ pool area and art-filled home on a “perfect weather” evening were the party chairing forces of Elizabeth Boh and Sarah Busch, who was joined by husband John. Unable to attend was the third chairwomen Suzanne Rusovich. YEP executive director Melissa Sawyer addressed the crowd, citing some key attendees.

Noted, too, were Megan Eustis and Cleland Powell from IberiaBank with their spouses; YEP board President Chris LeBato, Jackie and David Weill, Harold and Carol Asher, chef Scot Craig (a YEP board member, as are some of these others), Susu and Andrew Stall, reigning Rex Robert Boh with Ann, Councilman Joe Guarrusso, Weezie Porter, Nan Wallis and Britt Galloway, Betsie Gambel, Katherine Boh Eshleman and Richard Morales, and YEP staff members Jerome Jupiter, Darrin McCall and Nicole Woolfolk.

Hibernian Hobnobbing

The Ancient Order of Hibernians held its 144th annual banquet in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside to honor St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, and, as the Hibernian of the Year, Ronald Gerard Burke. His family came from County Galway in Ireland and have lived in the Irish Channel for decades. His contributions to AOH and the Catholic Church are numerous.

Musical selections at the dinner were by harpist Rachel van Voorhies, Irish troubadour Kevin Rouchell, and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Band and Mark Sanders. Prior to the call to order by master of ceremonies Judge Dennis Waldron (with Pam), the Grand March of the Ancient Order of Hibernians occurred. Sarah Jane McMahon sang the national anthems of the U.S. and of Ireland and Archbishop Gregory Aymond gave the invocation. A dinner (with Irish music) of green salad, Irish braised pork and flourless chocolate cake followed. Dancers from the Muggivan School of Irish dance also performed. Elizabeth Rafferty did the table decorations of lanterns with tri-color ribbons (green, orange and white).

Additional program principals were Hibernian State President James E. Kuhn (with Cheryl), who answers to judge, for welcoming remarks; National AOH President Judge James F. “Jim” McKay III (with Marie) with a welcome; Louise O’Reilly (with husband Ciaran Moore) for a welcome from the Irish government; Richard F. Burke Jr. (with Judy), James Cardinal Gibbons Division, for the introduction of the Hibernian of the Year, his brother; and significant remarks from the latter, Ronald G. Burke (with Kaye), also of the Gibbons Division. John D. Fitzmorris III (with Rose), Archbishop Hannan Division, made the presentation to Ronnie Burke, and the Rev. Patrick Collum closed with benediction.

Among the Burke brigade were Gary and Sally Burke, George and Cheryl Burke Drendel, Tim and Anna Burke, Sister Richard Mary Burke, Jenna Burke, Ryan and Courtney Burke Larson, Kara and Steffan Jambon, as well as spouses James Walsh and Yvonne LaFleur, B.J. and Joan Eckholdt, Dan and Angela Foley, Mike and Linda Moran, Jim Moriarity, Mickey Landry, Peter Connick and family, The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Marching Club, River Pilot Capt. Marvin and Judy Bowman, and Judges Paul Sens, Franz Zibilich, Henry Sullivan (with Judy) and Cornelius Regan (with Debbie). All hailed the honored Ronnie.

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