Falling for Autumn

Happy 242nd Birthday!

Celebrated throughout the month of November, the birthday of the Marine Corps is a cause for jubilation and rallying. Recently, in New Orleans, the 242nd Marine Corps Ball took place in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. With more than 2,180 guests, the Marine Forces Reserve Marine Corps Ball is the largest one scheduled for this year and Marine Forces Reserve is also the only command to host the ball inside a National Football League stadium.

Following tradition, the presentation of the colors occurs early on, during the first portion of the ball and the traditional ceremony. During this time, the guest of honor receives the first slice of the cake. The second slice is first given to the oldest Marine present before it is passed on to the youngest Marine at every Marine Corps ball, symbolizing the passing of experience and knowledge to the next generation. Retired Gunnery Sergeant Robert Allen was the oldest, and Private First Class Alec Paige, the youngest.

Throughout the evening, music played a vital part with renderings by the Marine Corps Band New Orleans and a DJ for post-dinner sounds. Ronald Anderson did the clever table centerpieces, each guest received a miniature wine bottle, and 15 buffet tables and 25 bars added food and drink fare. Centerplate catered.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the guest of honor. The host was Lt. Gen. Rex C. McMillian, Commander, Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North. Their respective wives, Ellyn and Rebecca, joined them. Military Flag Officers included Vice Adm. Rafael Lopez Martinez (coordinator general, Mexican Marine Corps) with Maria, retired Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer with Sherri, retired Col. Gregg Habel, Maj. Gen. Burke Whitman, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas of the Coast Guard with Mary, retired Maj. Generals David Mize and Walter Miller with Jane and Marcela, and Brigadier Generals Helen Pratt, Bradley James, and Michael Fahey. Members of the Command Staff and representatives from groups and organizations made the 242nd Birthday Ball an extraordinary patriotic – and palindromic – party.

Mardi Gras in the Moonlight

We never really leave it in this town: Mardi Gras. And at Magnolia Community Service’s recent bash, the billing was Magnolia Moonlight Mardi Gras. All the “Parade on Over” décor was so-themed from beads, masks, parasols, balloons and doubloons, as well as the mini-float centerpieces made by the Magnolia Dream Factory. Food from a slew of generous eateries ran from many a soupcon to the musical deserts of Mixed Nuts, the band. Properly fortified, guests bid on 200-plus items in the silent auction and crossed their fingers for the raffle, a ride in the Krewe of Tucks parade, which was won by Gladys Gille.

More notables were gala Chairwomen Jeanne Gallo and Marion Eagan with David and Lee. Marion’s great-uncle James J. Reiss (the posthumous honoree) helped co-found MCS in 1935 with her grandfather, Dr. Charles Bloom. Keeping the name to the fore were in-attendance James J. “Jimmy” Reiss Jr. with Pixie and his son, James.

Mingling, too, were Sheriff Joseph and Lauren Lopinto, Thomas and Lauren Morstead, Blair Monroe, Billy and Maureen Guste, Jimmy and Susan Gundlach, Susan Jumonville, Tucks royalty Abe Stopak and Theresa Heingarten, board and gala committee members, executive director Jennifer C. Hebert, and The Pussyfooters for some lively animation.

La Fete 291

On a Nature-sympathetic night, Ursuline Academy held La Fete 291 with Whitney as the gala sponsor and Cava Restaurant doing the patron party honors. Then Germaine Bazzle, accompanied by the George French Trio, entertained with smooth jazz stylings; Lucinda Weed concocted a specialty cocktail with ingredients from the Ursuline herb garden; and Cava purveyed a delicious osso bucco.

At the gala itself in the Ursuline Courtyard, Band Camp entertained, Pat Garin Photographer provided a photo booth, beautiful blue and white lighting embellished the premises and glittering fountain, and the centerpieces, which were wrapped in blue satin and rhinestone bands, held hydrangeas and greenery atop shimmering silver linens. For the silent auction, 173 items produced strong bidding, as did the live portion of seven attractions. A thrilled Jeanne Duhe won the “Best of Live” raffle. Chris McLellan (with Becky) answered to master of ceremonies and auctioneer.

More headliners were Ursuline Academy President Karen McNay, Alumnae Board President Kristen Rivero, high school principal Alice Bairnsfather, board member/alumna Helen Eshleman with Charlie, Sister Regina Marie Fronmuller, board member Alan Philipson, Sister Carolyn Marie Brockland, 2014 and 2015 Distinguished Alumnae Ann Valentino Fuselier and Deborah Augustine Elam with Cary Grant, Rhesa McDonald and Alden, and another Distinguished Alumna (2017), retired Judge Nancy Amato Konrad. Board members Simone Bruni Crouere, Bob Farnsworth and Jessica Kennedy Becker were joined by Jeff, Pamela and Scott; Patsy Arceneaux by CODOFIL President Bill; and Cristy Cali by Jack.

As the hours increased, so did the beat of the band. Called for a spin to the rollicking night music was many a couple.

CADA Carnivale Soiree

On the eve of the CADA (Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans) Carnivale in City Park’s Carousel Gardens, the Soiree held forth at the St. Charles Avenue home of Tara Tedesco and John McQueen. The invitation enticed with “open bar, astounding entertainment, spectacular cuisine,” and “an exciting live auction.” The James P. Raymond Jr. Foundation was the Carnivale Sponsor and Nina Fitch (joined by Justin), the committee chairwoman. Others whose names figured on the colorful “Step Right Up” invitation as committee cohorts were Maggie Agnew, Joanie Browne, Jennifer Cheatham, Jill Fitzpatrick, Mary Margaret Gorman, Logan Howcott, Charlotte Meade, Annie Michaels and Katie Roth.

A carnival theme embellished the host home with a carousel centerpiece, colorful flags and an old-fashioned candy bar. More attractions were cuisine by chef Robert Faust (crab cakes, shrimp ceviche, pork belly on cornbread pancakes); the lively live auction featuring (among other items) a Daniel Girault painting donated by The French Art Network and purchased by Marlene “Marla” Donovan; and a crowd-welcoming ring master. To entertain, a cappella performers Jay-Ray and Gee did their doo wop numbers and Carlos and Maureen Urrego danced tango.

Among those noted were hosts Tara and John, CADA board President Cory Bergeron with Phyllis, executive director Joyce Bracey, past President Dr. Juan Gershanik with Ana, Vice President Beverly Matheney, board members Liz Hefler, Thomas Lambert and Dominick Ragusa. Lots of others, as well, who relished the next-night’s family outing at City Park with cotton candy, face painting and unlimited rides.