Fall-ing into Fetes

A Tricentennial Tout!

French Quarter Citizens paid homage to the city’s 300th anniversary at the recent gala, which was titled “New Orleans Then and Now.” The historic Jung Hotel was the site for the salute and renowned landscape architect Rene Fransen and Edward Bonin were the honorary chairman. To add spectacular sounds, Phillip Manuel and his band played “mellifluous music.” Always a favorite song, “The Way You Look Tonight” described a lot of the gala’s attributes.

Barry Kern and his staff at Kern Studios decorated the hotel’s Grand Ballroom with a Crescent City look: jesters, black and gold fleurs-de-lis, Louis Armstrong (well, a statue) and choice centerpieces. Bubble-ball vases were filled with antique tea roses from Armstrong Park, courtesy of Leo Watermeier and Dr. Michelle Zembo. As guests admired the table centerpieces, they sat to enjoy cuisine from 13 fine restaurants. But when milling about, they perused the art work of photographer and gala Co-chairman Glade Bilby. In keeping with the theme, four canvases were created to feature the importance of the Mississippi River, the building of the (then) Dome Stadium, the revitalization of downtown, favorite music makers, and streetcars. To mention most of the “looks,” which featured the “Then” and the “Now.”

For the silent auction, a top enticement was a set of Baccarat crystal old-fashioned glasses donated by Coleman E. Adler & Sons, and, for the live portion, art by Fredrick Guess of a 19th century Vieux Carre restaurant.

Mastheading the merriment were the Guillots: Susan is the FQC president and Albin co-chaired the gala. Chris Owens and C.J. Blanda, both strong Quarter supporters, were honorees. Still others were District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro with wife Norma, Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, celebrity auctioneer Angela Hill with husband Dr. Irwin Marcus, Executive Producer WWL Dominic Massa, Commander Nick Gernon of the NOPD 8th District, Capt. Dean Behrens of the Louisiana State Police, state Rep. Royce Duplessis, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Eleanor Farnsworth, Bob and Jan Carr and Frank and Paulette Stewart. Annie Jones of the Ritz-Carlton co-chaired the gala, and Gary Wheat, Angie Bowlin, Chris Fransen and Sharon Singleton served on the committee. Meanwhile, Jodi Poretto made rounds as the FQC executive director.

Southern Dominicans Salute Service

Cynthia Thomas, Ph.D. and O.P.A., who has been president of St. Mary’s Dominican High School for almost three decades, stepped into the limelight at the Southern Dominican Gala at Messina’s at The Terminal to receive the prestigious St. Martin de Porres Award. Nearest and dearest included her mother, Grace O’Neill; brothers Frank Thomas and Donald O’Neill Jr.; and Dominican’s administration and leadership team: Carolyn Favre with Rusty, Jill Cabes with Scott, Jamie Lassere, Catherine Thomson, Jennifer Drouant, Patricia Byrne and Katie Alexander.

Prior Provincial the Very Rev. Thomas M. Condon, O.P., along with the New Orleans Advisory Board (of the Southern Dominicans) and the gala committee extended the invitation for the event that benefits Friars in Formation and the province’s ministries. Numerous fine Crescent City restaurants fed the flock in a cocktail-style buffet; the much-lauded Big Easy Boys and Babes performed; and a 110-items silent auction were among the features, as were decorations of Dominican black and white. Michelle Midkiff with the support of Debbie Farge (Convention Plant Design) created the table arrangements. Federico’s Florist provided the flowers for Dr. Thomas.

Michie Bissell presides over the advisory board that has Dr. Stephen J. Derbes as vice president and Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Kevin Colomb, Charlotte D. Crusta, Dawnella Johnson, Michelle Midkiff, Mary Reynolds, O.P., Sharon Rodi, Sandy Sanchez, O.P., John R. Smestad Jr. and Dr. Joaquin Wong, O.P., on the committee. Also figuring in the Order of Preachers (O.P.) galaxy were the Revs. Victor Laroche, Francis Orozco, Juan Torres, David Caron, John Restrepo, John Dominic Sims, Roberto Merced, Thomas Schaefgen, Martin J. Gleeson, Philip Neri Powell, Emiliano Zapata, Charles Latour and Michael O’Rourke, and Sister Therese Leckert (and others), in from Ohio.

Gala on the River

Presented by and benefiting Magnolia Community Services, “Magnolia Moonlight Merriment” held forth most festively at Historic Whitehall Plantation for four hours. Honored was Betty McCloskey, while The Rockenbraughs and The Pussyfooters entertained. Jeri Nims was the sole Gold Ring Sponsor, and Zito Companies/Sammy Zito figured in the Calling Birds category. French Hens were Laurie (Lawrence P.) and Karen Oertling, Gulf Coast Tent Rental and Capital One.

Marion Eagan, Jeanne Gallo and Karen Oertling chaired the gallivanting that included 20 committee members; board of governors’ officers Lawrence P. Oertling, James Oertling, Reiss Eagan and Andrew Bruns, as well as governors Dr. Julie Danna, Carling Dinkler IV, Paul C. Fleming, David Gallo, Mark LaCour, Burgess E. McCranie, Craig Silva and Mary Margaret Spell; and, as Magnolia leadership, executive director Jennifer C. Hebert and Dr. Sara E. Fernandez.

Auction excitement, cuisine attractions and decorations completed the picture. Luring legions to the “Gala on the River” were the invitations. The artwork with a nod to Noel was created by client artists in Magnolia Community Services’ Dream Factory.

Bounty of the Bar

The cover of the elegant program stated “New Orleans Tricentennial, 1718-2018, New Orleans Bar Association Celebrates 300 Years of New Orleans.” This occurred during NOBA’s 94th annual Dinner Meeting in the Audubon Tea Room. Jason Waguespack, the newly installed president (and succeeding Dana M. Douglas), was joined by Judge Jeff Morgan, mom Judge Zoey Waguespack, sister Jennifer Waguespack, and law partners John Galloway and Tim Burr. James C. “Jay” Gulotta Jr. (with wife Susan Talley) is the president-elect.

Highlights were many, such as Judge Robin Giarrusso’s presentation of the Arceneaux Professionalism Award to Richard C. “Rick” Stanley (with Pattie) and the check presentation by outgoing NOB Foundation President Walter Leger Jr. to Laura Tuggle, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services executive director. Monsignor Christopher Nalty gave the invocation; Fifty-Year members John Wilson (with Edie) and Walter Christy were recognized; Angelina Christina was inducted as the foundation’s new president; and all enjoyed the prandial pleasures of salad with fresh beets, filet mignon and (yumm!) a chocolate turtle mousse cup.

Further notables were past Association President Chris Ralston, Inn of Court President Jack Benjamin Jr., Young Lawyers Section Chairwoman Kelly Brilleaux, NOBA Secretary Kelly Juneau Rookard, Billy and Bridget Gaudet, Rick Duplantier, Darryl Phillips and Peter Sperling. Fittingly for the tricentennial tribute, each table had a golden fleur-de-lis centerpiece.