Seasonal Circuits


James Bond didn’t make the scene, but lots of others did. Presented by Landis Construction, the 44th Julia Jump of the Preservation Resource Center marqueed a good bet with “Welcome to the Casino Royale.” The Iberville Ballroom of the historic Hotel Monteleone chipped in as the levity’s location.

The gambol got going with the one-hour patron party, presented by Bellwether Technology, where shoulder-rubbers sipped Champagne and martinis as they reached for passed hors d’oeuvres. They also got a first look at the auction items, along with a jump on trying their luck at the Casino Royale. Meanwhile, Da Lovebirds, featuring the sultry vocals of Robin Barnes, purveyed an intimate vibe. The three-hour bash ensued with sumptuous cocktails, light bites and the swinging sounds of the Yat Pack. They weren’t content with just a “jump” from the gyrating audience. They wanted to fly us to the moon.

All Julia Jump tickets included Casino Royale tokens, which were exchanged for chips to play at blackjack, craps and roulette. The holder of the most chips at the end of the evening received the Casino Royale Grand Prize trophy. And for those who ran out of chips? Unlimited “rebuys” were available with an additional donation to the PRC. In fact, everyone was a winner. The resource center’s programs preserve the Crescent City’s historic architecture, neighborhoods and cultural identity.

“Black tie” or “Vegas High Roller” was the suggested attire and a lot of sartorial latitude occurred within. Along with conventional tuxes were sparkly sequined jackets. Glisten up! Most of the women opted for thematic threads and long dresses, all noticeable as they perused (and purchased) the “marvelous” auction and raffle items. The hotel’s catering fed the fancy flock, who imbibed donations of liquor from Sazerac/Goldring Family Foundation and beer from NOLA Brewing Company.

“Vegas” VIPs included Landis Construction President Christian Generes, Landis executive and incoming PRC board member James Christovich with wife Leigh Ann, and additional incoming board members Nick Harris and Gretchen Bradford. They mingled with George and Liz Vulevich, Gabriel Verdure and Jeffery May, Stephen Murray and Melanie Perret, and Elizabeth Tilton and Mike Karam. They also made rounds to the silent auction and raffles, which included Winner-take-all Wine and Bourbon packages, a diamond bracelet from Béjé Jewelers, a framed photograph of Preservation Hall Brass Band by photographer Chris Granger, and a Brennan’s French Quarter dine-around and guided tour with Danielle Del Sol.

As the PRC’s executive director, Del Sol was a JJ headliner, as were board president Katie Witry, vice president Charles Urstadt and husband David Bernard, and board members Roger Friebert with Joni, Jessie Haynes, Jeremy Head with Stacy, Mike Katz with wife Blaire Fernandez, Sarah Martzoff, Chris Komman with wife Arian Elfant, and Aulston Taylor. Dozens more figured in the gaming fun. And funds. The tagline for the 2023 Jump was “When you bet on the PRC, the houses always win.”

Eight 'Greats'

Champagne was hosted in the Garden Room and praise abounded. This occurred on a recent Sunday, and for the 45th year, when East Jefferson General Hospital Auxiliary presented the Great Lady Great Gentleman Awards at Chateau Golf and Country Club. Take a bow, Melinda Bourgeois, Micki Chehardy, Chadwick “Chad” Landry, Dominic Massa, Dr. Bennie Nobles, Cindy Paulin, Betty Spurlock and Wayne Thomas. They were lauded for their outstanding volunteer service in the Greater New Orleans area. In the event’s printed program, each had a full page of achievements and charitable work.

More top names were those of event chairman Debbie Schmitz who was joined by spouse Henry, and the committee: Anna Heim, Lee Baraldi, Dianne Breaux, Ruby Brewer, Amy Cioll, Carrel Epling, Lisa Hunt, Coleen Landry, Darlene McGarry, Faith Peperone, Sandra Oster and Dianne Thames. Lise Naccari presides over the auxiliary board and Carrel Epling is the president-elect. Debbie Schmitz and Rosalie Edwards answer to first and second vice presidents.

After the welcome by president Naccari and both the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance by the Rev. Alyce Jefferson, deacon, the program continued with Debbie Schmitz (later tapped by Lady Luck as the 50/50 winner), EJGH interim CEO Gregory Nielsen and Ruby Brewer, senior vice president and chief quality & nursing office. Foundation board member Jack Sloan charmed the crowd as master of ceremonies. Memory Lane did the same musically.

In addition to the above, the Great gathering included Newell and Shawn Normand, Pat and Henry Shane, Darlene and Kevin Landry, Barry Breaux with Dianne, Aaron Broussard in a pink seersucker suit, Jefferson Parish Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken, Peter and Marilyn Quirk, Ginger Crawford, Lorraine Cucchiara, Katherine Landry, Jolene Ryan, Mary Crumb, Maria Winn, Mary Jane Becker, and 27 guests of honoree Betty Spurlock. Their luncheon fare, with vinous accompaniment, was spring salad, pecan-crusted catfish, and cheesecake. The nursing units crafted individually-designed centerpieces.

For 2006-2007 auxiliary president Jo Ann Bohm, the event resonated. Not only was she recognized as a Great Lady in 2005, but it was also her birthday.

Hope Happening

The University of Holy Cross presented its Spes Unica (“Only Hope”) Award Dinner in The Higgins Hotel at the National WWII Museum with Joseph C. “Joey” Ditta II and Kolette Mandina Ditta (also Mandina-Ditta), respective alumni of ’92 and ’93, as the honored duo. It’s the university’s highest honor and hailed the twosome, who are parents of five, as exemplars of the ideals of their shared alma mater. Both graduated from the university with bachelor of science degrees in business administration. Now they own and operate multigenerational family businesses, Carlo Ditta Ready Mix Concrete, LLC and Tony Mandina’s Restaurant.

Notables in attendance, and enjoying a dinner in the Arcadia Ballroom of iceberg wedge lettuce, filet mignon, and Bourbon bread pudding, were university president Dr. Stanton McNeely with spouse Stephanie Davi McNeely, JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna, and Dr. Marco Clark, president of Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana. Also, William J. Gallagher, headmaster of Holy Cross School, New Orleans, and Sister Ann Lacour, MSC, congregational leader of the Marianites of Holy Cross.

Others, as alumni, academic, business and religious representatives, were Guy Williams, Kristine Strickland, Joe and Erin Caruso, the Rev. Pat Collum, Peter Quirk, Judge Jay Zainey, Pierre Villere, Jack Duvernay, and Mike Mohr. To mention several who relished the university’s camaraderie as they issued hearty congratulations to the deserving Dittas.