Here’s a holiday-time pawty and reunion combo open to “ya mamma ’n nem, ya paw paw, ya chirruns ... even Metry people.” So says organizer and Yat-in-charge Benny Grunch, ready to mingle at the “sort of” annual Lakeview/Velvet Swing reunion from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Lakeview Harbor, 911 Harrison Ave.

“Just come on; there’s no cover charge,” Grunch said. His band, Benny Grunch and the Bunch, will entertain, along with chawmin’ chanteuse Kathy Savoie.

This is the fourth reunion of folks who remember the popular watering hole called the Velvet Swing, where Lakeview Harbor now stands. Grunch, 70, was a student at St. Aloysius High School in the 1960s when he started hanging out at the neighborhood haunt. Sure, it was a bar, he said, but parents figured their teens would be safe because it was close to home and a cop was on hand to keep the peace. The worst fights ended with flying fists and a bloody nose or two, he said.

It was a simpler time and place, Grunch said, recalling the “real girl” who held court swinging from the rafters on that red velvet swing. The reunion is a celebration “of kids our age,” he said.

Grunch, whose musical masterpieces include “The 12 Yats of Christmas” and a lamentation of long-gone local landmarks called “Ain’t Dere No More,” will introduce his lyrical creation “Still Dere Some More,” about local places that are, well, still here some more.

People are invited to bring vintage cars, motorcycles and bicycles to the reunion. Just call in advance so Grunch can save you a spot in the parking lot. He paid $80 for his favorite car, a 1949 four-door Ford purchased in 1961. “I took guys to and from St. Aloysius and charged ’em 10 cents each way,” he said.

Grunch can be reached by calling (504) 231-8916 or emailing

Last year’s reunion was the first since Katrina, and the crowd celebrated 50 years of Benny Grunch and the Bunch music and the 25th anniversary of “The 12 Yats of Christmas.” Information about the group and current gigs — including playing at 5:30 p.m. Christmas night at Rock ’n’ Bowl — can be found at

Hey, Benny. Glad y’all are still here some more.

Toys from Troy

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, will celebrate the holidays with a Winter Wonderland event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at Whole Foods Market, 300 N. Broad St., on the rooftop and in the lobby.

The event is free, and children who attend with a parent or guardian will receive toys while they last. Have a photo taken with “Santa Bear” and enjoy ice cream and apple cider, face painting and games. Music will be played by Trombone Shorty Foundation Academy students, Main Line and New Breed Brass Band, with a special guest.

For information, call the Whole Foods store at (504) 434-3364.

Happy Birthday, Noel

Please indulge this birthday wish to my son, Noel, the best early Christmas gift ever.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at