Social Bonanzas

Pig Times

A joyful piglit in flight — complete with a small set of wings — smiles from the invitation and the cover of the Cochon Cotillion that benefits Bridge House/Grace House. For more than 60 years, the mission has been to provide substance abuse treatment services to those who have lost everything. “When pigs fly” says that something may never happen, but with care at Bridge House/Grace House, help can happen. People in either house can find a safe place to recover and the “tools” necessary to build a new life.

Following porcine suit, the Cochon Cotillion 2018 produced a spate of tacky thrills, starting with the royals, at “the first ‘unofficial’ Mardi Gras Ball of 2019,” all under the auspices of the Krewe of Pork and Beans. Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World housed the bacchanalian bash. Those in the know (or piggy nose) recall that Blaine co-reigned in 2003.

Presented by the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust and the Goldring Family Foundation, the 22nd annual Cotillion hailed their majesties King Bill Mimeles (a former boar-d chairman) and Queen Betsie Gambel, whose names were printed on napkins and Champagne glasses. They and their similarly costumed court first assembled in MGW’s Bienville Room, where Zea Rotisserie & Bar purveyed pulled pork — but of course; Mike Morris provided live entertainment; and the Double-Step Cloggers performed. Then all paraded with second-line umbrellas hoisted into the main space for more pig pleasures.

Headliners included ball Chairwomen Arlene Rome, Tiffany Truxillo and Rosemary Tunstall; master of ceremonies Bruce Katz; royal wife Gabrielle Mimeles; and court members Laurel Valentino and John Cerise, David and Stephanie Miller Murphy, Elizabeth and Scott Frost, Dr. David and Jane Martin, and Elwood and Sandra Cahill. From Bridge House/Grace House came CEO Else Pedersen and husband Tom Wasson, executive director of development Kevin Gardere, and boar-d President Susan Tyler with hubby Richard. Hundreds more filled the porker pack.

Features included fabulous decorations and uplighting in Mardi Gras colors, NOLA Flora centerpieces, RSVP Decorating balloon arrangements, hot-to-trot music by ELS Show Band, a 50-item silent auction, a raffle for a resort stay in Punta Cana of the Dominican Republic, performances by the Pussyfooters and the Muggivan School of Irish Dance, caricatures by “Uncle” Wayne Daigrepont, psychic readings from Sonnet Ireland, and a mini parade led by the Sophie Wright Charter School Marching Band.

“We had so much fun,” sow much fun, said her majesty Betsie after Cochon Cotillion XXII, a fabulous evening of swine and poses.


The sixth annual pre-Hogs for the Cause gala dinner kicked off the 10th annual two-day event that raises funds for the economic burdens families face while their children are treated for pediatric brain cancer. The premier such funding source in the United States, Hogs for the Cause has given grants to more than 600 families and contributions to children’s hospitals in New Orleans, Atlanta and South Carolina.

Always a pig draw, the recent dinner on the eve of the annual Hogs for the Cause charity barbecue cook-off and music festival at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena Field, amassed 350 festive folks, who rallied to the Hoggyshack theme. A billing was “Pigslayers Take over Bushwood Country Club.” With a wink to the dutiful duffers, the arena was transformed into Hogusta National. Meanwhile, the Link Restaurant Group used a menu inspired by the '80s cult film, “Caddyshack,” the gala’s gimmick.

Luminaries included Hogs for the Cause co-founders Becker Hall with Brittany, Rene Louapre with Lindsay, Zandy Rainold with Margot and Kirsten Finley; committee stalwarts Alex Layfield, Jessica Magnum, Kate Gilly, Heather Lolley (of Link), Katie LaCour (décor) Claire Thriffiley (live auction) and Nikki Stoumen; guest chefs Stephen Stryjewski, Ryan Prewitt, Rebecca Wilcomb, Billy Jones, Mason Hereford, Marcus Jacobs, Andy Ticer, Michael Hudman and Maggie Scales; Cure and Co.’s Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Nick Detrich for the cocktails; Max and Vicki Loubiere for the Neat Wines; auctioneer/emcee Mark Romig with David Briggs; and William and Meghan Wolf; Jennifer Bond; Ben and Julia Guider, Gary and Martha Solomon, Kyle Brechtel, and Cheryl Stegbauer. All “hi” on Hogs!

Masked Momentum

For the fifth year, the United Negro College Fund Mayor’s Masked Ball held forth, bringing together a host of corporate sponsors and individuals, who support the mission of getting students to and through college. Ochsner Health System was the presenting sponsor; the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the venue; and UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., Mayor Mitchell J. “Mitch” Landrieu (the UNCF Masked Award recipient) and Ochsner Health System President and CEO Warner L. Thomas, the bannered threesome. Along with the mayor and Lomax, UNCF’s Therese M. Badon and LaJuana G. Chenier formed the host committee; Hyatt Regency New Orleans General Manager Michael O. Smith and WDSU-TV President and General Manager Joel Vilmenay (with Shirelle) served as event chairmen; and Liberty Bank and Trust Company President and CEO Alden J. McDonald and Rhesa were hailed as the event founders. Further notables in a cast of legions were Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, Xavier University President C. Reynold Verret, Ph.D., Henry and Karen Coaxum, Charles and Vonda Rice, Rod and Madeline West, Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough, Ph. D., and Adria, emcee Tamran Hall and comedian Jonathan Slocumb.

All relished the fabulous Mardi Gras Productions decorations, the four-course meal by chefs Yvan Didelot, Bill Jones, Leah Chase, Stephen Stryjewski and Maggie Scales, and the music of Dillard piano students, Royal Boys Choir, Stephanie Jones and the headlining O’Jays. Also, a silent auction and a raffle of a 2018 Nissan Rogue SL from Supreme Automotive made the glorious gallivanting an unmasked memory.

Jump for Julia

Year ago, the Preservation Resource Center’s campaign to save Julia Row evolved into a major fundraiser, Julia Jump, to support the preservation of historic architecture and neighborhoods city-wide. For the 2018 blast, presented by Continental Underwriters, guests headed to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Institute’s Family Hall for, first, a patron party with music by NOCCA students and cuisine by the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. The general gallivanting followed an hour later.

For the décor provided by Fidelity Bank, the stage and bars were framed with palms and foliage from Harold’s Plants; Firefly and Jason and Nicole Villemarette did the lighting; and the centerpieces reflected the Roaring 20s theme with beads, feathers and votives. Fourteen food vendors fed the lively flock; the auction featured such enticements as Jenny Day’s multimedia piece; and Bon Bon Vivant! set the vibes.

All hailed event chairwomen and patrons Shon Cowan Baker and Melissa Eversmeyer, and auction co-Chairwomen Lauren Hebert and Lisa Yip, who figured on the committee of 68 that ran an A-Z gamut. It started and finished alphabetically with the names of Missy Allain and Kathryn Zansler. Catching the eye throughout were Councilwomen Susan Guidry and Stacy Head (with Jeremy), Shaun and Foster Duncan, Graham and Adele Ralston, Gaynell Lawrence, Sweet and Ben Dupuy, Paula Jo “PJ” Lascsak, Liz Broekman, Kimberly Allen, Hartley Crunk, Marshall Hevron, Leslie and Joseph Bouie, Noel Lawrence, Tim and Elizabeth Soslow, and Carole Gniady. Scores more, who made Jump their social jaunt.