Heads Up!

High Hair

Getting all wigged out were a host of happy hobnobbers, who responded to the beckoning of gala chairing forces Debby Hirsch Wood and Brain A. Monk. Her fiancé, Ted Godman, and his wife, Lily, joined them for the third annual Big Wig Ball: Rocky HAIRror Wig Show presented by the New Orleans Opera Association’s Sylvain Society. Wigs were required, but that was an easy dictate. Who could resist the fun of popping on a peruke?

The Greek Revival-designed Opera Guild Home served as the elegant backdrop for the ball. With its furnishings of antiques and portraits, there was no real need for decorations. The attendees filled that bill.

Since the ball’s inception, patrons have looked forward to these themed-fundraisers, which become a party with a purpose at the start of the Carnival season. Proceeds benefit the NOOA’s Student Education Programs. Fun factors in, of course. For the 2019 swing, the BWB brigade turned out in amazing attire and wacky wigs, some reaching heads above their heads. As folks eyed each other, commenting with glee about the costuming, they also enjoyed live entertainment, DJ Chris Stylez, fab food and drink, a glitter bar (no naked faces, puhleeze!) and a Porter Lyons jewelry pull.

Swing dancers were provided by Dark Garden Corsetry in conjunction with dancers from Jumpin’ Room Only. Ralph Brennan Catering and Events, NOLA Snow Snowballs, Brother 2 Sister Caterers, St. James Cheese Company and Sassy NOLA provided a slew of chomps. And then there was the raffle with such winners as Debby Hirsch Wood (those that give, get), Vincentia Modica, Milissa Credeur, Claire Wilkinson, Katherine Broughton, Elizabeth Bager-Carpenter, Sarah Watcher, Derek Chisholm and Nicole Alvarez.

Assembled for the “hair and now” were Sylvain Society Chairwoman Cree Merriman-Jourdain, ball committee member Bryan D. Jourdain, NOOA President Jay Gulotta, NOOA artistic director Robert Lyall, Kerry Maloney and Jessica Fender, Elliot Hutchinson, Willie Mackie Jr., Kelder Summers-Jones, Stephen Rizzo, Elektra Cosmetics owner Danielle Smith, Peter Brigandi Jr., Rose and Edward “Bret” LeBreton, Gina Klein, Dina Zeevi, Jenny Chapman, Ron Austin and the Merry Antoinettes.

A highlight of the headiness was the contest to crown the official “Big Wig 2019.” Scott Levkoff was the BWB winner while Dede Mitchell was tapped as the People’s Choice. As winners, they enjoyed their costume cachet, joining with teams of others who made “Rocky” hair-story.

Kilt and Kin

The Caledonian Society of New Orleans presented the 45th annual Burns Supper at the Southern Yacht Club to honor Robert Burns, 1759-1796, Scottish poet, bard and patron extraordinaire. Highland dress was encouraged. A nonprofit organization, the Caledonian Society is open to all interested in the preservation of the ancient Scottish way of life. In New Orleans, members study, preserve, teach and present the culture, history, heraldry, pageantry, music, literature, crafts and arts of Scotland and the Isles.

Cocktails launched the 2019 levity chaired by Virginia Urquhart (also Virginia Dowager Urquhart of Urquhart) and Wendy Grubb. Piping ensued, as did the initial greeting by mistress of ceremonies Laurie McConnell, whose husband, Richard B. “Rick” McConnell III, later gave the Address to the Haggis after it was presented by Scott Bond, Nimesh Poddar and Tom Mungall III. Additional program points were the President’s Welcome Address by Robert Grubb, the Burns Grace by Joe McD. Campbell and dinner and ballroom dancing. The pipers were Robert Grubb and Rob Martin of The Pipes and Drums of New Orleans and The Kilts of Many Colours Band, while the principal music makers were The New Orleans Strathspey & Reel Society. Doug and Beverly Hall did the invitation; Lance von Uhde III of Art-in-Flowers arranged lanterns with tartan ribbons as decorations; and the SYC provided a fine dinner of grilled salmon or prime rib with seasonal vegetables. Wendy Grubb prepared the haggis and the shortbread.

Postprandial activity centered on A. Glenn Raby’s Toast to the Lassies, Virginia Urquhart’s Response to the Laddies, Wendy Grubb’s Flowers of the Forest, Scottish country and ballroom dancing, and Derek Ewart’s The Immortal Memory.

Also savoring the Scottish celebration were St. Andrew’s Society of Louisiana President John Blatty, Elizabeth Beauregard, Shannon Sumrall, Baton Rouge Caledonian Society President Janice and Alan Wise, Jane Caruso of Daughters of the British Empire, Leonora Dowell, Christyn Elliott, Ceresyntia and Emma Nagle-Alex, David and Shauna Grissett of the New Orleans Branch of the English-Speaking Union, and Andy and Nancy Weir. To cap the evening all joined in for the singing and sentiment of the Burns-written “Auld Lang Syne.”

Installation Ado

The Ochsner Baptist Medical Staff requested the pleasure of one’s company for the 79th Installation Reception and the format of cocktails, dinner and dancing, which took place in Tomas Bistro on Tchoupitoulas Street. Atmosphere galore permeated the space, which is decorated to resemble a romantic, but charmingly simple, Parisian eatery. Passed hors d’oeuvres, such as lamb chop lollipops and crawfish ravigote beignets, started the nibbling. Guests then made tracks to the various food stations for more robust fare. At the dessert station, white chocolate bread pudding bites and chocolate-dipped strawberries made a sweet statement.

For the formal part of the evening, outgoing Medical Staff President Dr. Gregor Hoffman (with Karyn) thanked everyone for coming and announced incoming staff President Dr. James Lilly (with Sarah), Vice President Dr. John Walsh (with Jacinta) and Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Russell Hendrick.

Further notables were Ochsner Baptist CEO Dawn Anuszkiewicz and husband Jason, OB Governing Board Chairman Kenneth Pickering with Lisa, Donna Martin (chief nursing officer) and Trevor, and Drs. Frank Wharton, Sean Collins with Joann, Lisa Fort wit Daniel, Barry Starr with Kelly, Olle Kjellgren with Cecilia, Pulin Shah with Natasha, Edward Staudinger with Mary, Paul Primeaux with Erin, and Lori Rodgers with Carl Poche.

Whereas the proceedings were contemporary and timely, nostalgia set in with the music makers. The band, Brokedown Streetcar, played old New Orleans tunes that have enriched our city’s reputation as a mecca for music. Numbers from the '50s and '60s were a hit, as was the second-line/jazz flair, which “installed” dance floor activity.


New Orleanians' love of fun and festivities is legendary. Join The New Orleans Advocate's Facebook group to follow the who's who of the city and the best parties in town courtesy of society and party experts Nell Nolan and Jeff Strout.