Merry Mothers – and Others

Sea Scene

For the 41st annual Sugarplum Ball of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, LCMC Health, the presenter was Lemoine; the venue, Mardi Gras World; and the theme, “Somewhere beyond the Sea.” The hospital’s top names are Board of Trustees President and CEO Lucio A. Fragoso, chair Julie Livaudais George, vice chair Louis V. Lauricella and secretary/treasurer Tod Smith. Jessica Brandt, Andrea Chen, Katherine Andy Crosby, Ashleigh Gardere, Walton Goldring, Dr. Stephen Hales, Kaylea Hill, Betty V. Lauricella, Dr. Henry Peltier and Gregory St. Etienne serve on the board.

Fabulous aqueous decorations lured every eye. Costumed sea creatures, stilted pirates, aerial mermaids, massive treasure chests, and a pirate ship mast were situated within seaweed and cascading bubbles. Lighting, in tones of aqua and amethyst, bathed the premises.

Among the bash’s special features were a 2023 Infinity Q50 luxury car raffle by the Ray & Jessica Brandt Family Foundation with Mary Anne Kennedy as the winner, and 156 auction items, spread over four boards, and including swim lessons (Harry’s Dive Shop) and an 18th century Provencal-style buffet from Wirthmore Antiques. Holt Kolb and Cara Ogg chaired the auction committee.

Under the chairing of Walton Goldring and Lauren May, 38 local vendors – such as Ralph Brennan’s Catering and Events, as well as Tulane University Olive Blue Catering by Sodexo — sated the “Sea” set. Passed food also figured prominently.

Rating compliments galore were gala co-chairs Jeanne de Laureal and Elizabeth Wooten, who were joined by their spouses, Martin and Andrew. Milling as well were respective LCMC Health CEO Greg Feirn and President of Hospital Services John Nickens with their wives, Sarah and Marye; Jill Fragoso with Lou; Jessica Brandt; Will and Candace Lemoine; Ted George with Julie; state Rep. Royce Duplessis with Krystle; Allan McDonnel; Michael and Sarah Cooper; and hundreds more. For the lively land lubbers, the NOLA Dukes Band and Karma created musical waves, winning the gyrating crowd with “It’s Got to Be Real” and “We Are Family.”

Hailing Volunteerism

For a half a century and a year, St. Elizabeth’s Guild has put on its Volunteer Activists Awards Luncheon to acknowledge 10 members of our community. Take a bow for 2023, Darlene Porter Cohen, Troy and Tracy Duhon (as a couple), Barbara Brown Gaiennie, Mike Hammer, Denise Redmann Hoffman, Jean Paul “JP” Hymel, Lise Naccari, Melvin Rodrigue and Susan “Susu” Stahl. In the luncheon’s printed program, each one had a full page describing all their volunteer activities. The event’s top sponsoring partner was Angel Wings Foundation.

Supporters amassed in the Celestin Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, where an arch of various size balloons (including stars) in colors of white, silver and gray served as the entrance to the runway for the celebrity models during the Dillard’s fashion show. A black backdrop glinted with blue points, suggesting stars. “Ladies and gentlemen, lets’ hear it for Dillard’s,” announced master of ceremonies Mark Romig after the show. Applause was abundant, especially for the beautiful, colorful gowns at the end. Coursing the catwalk were Deja Brown, Erika Ferrando, Deacon Martin Gutierrez, Lauren McCoy, Katie Moore, Michelle Morgan, Margaret Orr, Cindy Paulin, Norman Robinson, Damon Singleton and Eleanor Tabone.

Program headliners, in addition to the masterful Mark, were luncheon co-chairs Jeanne Gallo and Julie Vanderbrook, national anthem vocalist Irma Thomas, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond for the invocation and remarks, and guild president JoAnn Bohm for the raffle (with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans President and CEO Sister Marjorie Hebert doing the drawing) and closing remarks. An auction, chaired by Suzette Herpich, and Parade of Prizes added to the excitement, as did the entertainers. Bobby Ohler provided the pre-luncheon music.

Guests sat at tables centered with palest blue and yellow-white hydrangeas in clear, round glass bowls. The menu was a salad of several greens, a duo of seasonal fish and barbecued shrimp, and a pecan tart. Reference was made to the three children’s programs of Catholic Charities that benefit from the luncheon’s proceeds: Padua House, St. John the Baptist Head Start and Therapeutic Family Services. More entertaining sounds came from the Big Easy Boys, who regaled the audience with Crescent City hits. “Sea of Love” had folks swooning.

Singers and Signers

The Mastersigners of the New Orleans Opera Association headed to the Windsor Court Hotel’s Gallery Room for the Director’s Dinner hosted by board president Dwayne O. Littauer, general and artistic director Clare Burovac (with spouse Chris Mattaliano), and co-chairs Drs. Ranney and Emel Songu Mize. Clare Burovac welcomed the group and introduced the cast and creative team of the chamber opera “Charlie Parker Yardbird” with Martin Bakari as Parker. Jennifer Zuckerman, 2022 Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition winner, sang three arias; Littauer thanked the Mastersigners for their support; Mastersigners co-chairs Mary and Doug Albert recognized Joe Young as the founder; and former board president Ted Martin talked about future Opera opportunities.

Enjoying the dinner of salad, pan roasted grouper and banana cake with caramel mousse were Price and Christine LeBlanc, Philp and Eleanor Staub, Sally Richardson with Ron Scalise, Jay Gulotta and Susan Talley, Emmet Geary Jr., Arthur Crais, Tim Fields and Chris Bergeaux, Drs. Rand and Terry Voorhies, Larry and Nina Pugh, Peter Brigandi with Lisa Leone, Melissa and Bruce Gordon, Rania and Hicham Khodr and Elizabeth and Jim Landis.

Days earlier, Drs. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan entertained at a select luncheon in the New Orleans Country Club for the “Parker” opera’s maestro Jorge Parodi, as well as soprano Sarah Jane McMahon, Ranney Mize, maestro Robert Lyall, Pat Denechaud, and Opera leadership.