The Children’s Museum of St. Tammany recently hosted its 10th annual “Celebration” event with the theme “Soaring Beyond Imagination.” The Castine Center in Mandeville was a vision of the future, with a revolving silver solar system floating above a spectacular edible dessert display by Zoë’s Bakery.

Local news personalities Doug Mouton and Shelley Brown emceed and special guests included “Chopped Junior” champions Emily Roche and Ella Petitto. Entertainment was provided by the Bucktown All-Stars and the Slidell High School Jazz Band.

Liquid libation stations surrounded the patron tables, and the celestial theme continued with culinary treats from more than 30 local restaurants. Silent auction tables were decorated with yellow and blue balloons featuring stars and planets. The entire evening was out-of-this-world fun.

Celebration is the premier community outreach and fundraiser for the Children’s Museum. The museum’s first exhibits will be at Kids Town, a mini-town located at the Koop Drive Trailhead and slated to open this spring. The final project for the Children’s Museum will be within the proposed Cultural Arts District, an initiative of St. Tammany Parish Government, currently in the design phase.

Major committee chairs for the event included Joshua and Josie LeBlanc, Mary Leigh Wolfe, Lisa Breland, Sheila Dugger, Laura Prisco, Lani Fast, Toni LeMon, Leanne Caruso, Karen Reisch, Missy Avery, Lizzy Boyce, Sara Baumgartner, Daniel and Casey Levy, Rebecca Doughtery, Leslie Martin, Shelley Scoggins, Becky Parks, Lynette Savoie, Debbie Hightower, Rene Arcemont, Erin Heltz, Emily Elder, Jennifer Lovecchio, Ann Barre, Nicole Gonzales, Cindy Leaber, Maggie Jones and Leigh Ann Wall.

Lisa Barnett serves as chair for the Board of Trustees for the museum. For more information about the Children’s Museum of St. Tammany, visit

Gumbo galore

Rain threatened but the skies remained clear for the eighth annual Northshore Gumbo Cookoff, held on March 11 at the Slidell Little Theater. More than 200 guests were on hand to enjoy the great food, live music and plenty of raffle items. 

Emcee Ashley Rodrigue kept the gumbo gurus updated on who was leading the pack in votes, and long-time volunteer Stephen Cefalu, again dressed in his signature “Hooter Guy” outfit, joining the real Hooters staff in selling raffle tickets.

The event featured gumbo from 17 teams, each with decorated tents and thematic décor, designed to treat not only the palate, but the eye as well. The People’s Choice Award went to the team of KB Kaufmann. Other winners were: Commercial Division, Kenney Seafood, first place, and Brown Sugar, second place; Seafood Division, Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan with KB Kaufmann second; Non-Seafood Division, LA Outlaws, with the Slidell Rotary Club second. 

Funds raised at the event stay local, benefiting community youth programs supported by the theater, the National Association of Women in Construction and the Homeless Outreach for Youth in St. Tammany, all programs seeking to enrich lives through arts and education.

Slidell Little Theater will direct its proceeds toward the “Next Stage” project that will allow the theater to expand its young actors theater program. For more information on Slidell Little Theater, visit

Missie Arata Noel is a society and features writer for The St. Tammany Advocate. She can be contacted by email at