Three recent events either brought the outdoors in, or touted tales and tributes, all for community causes. Now we hippity-hop forward — to today — for a Happy Easter!

Blooming Art

Thousands flocked for flowers to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The lure was the annual spring fling, Art in Bloom, which titled its 2023 to-do “Paradise under the Palms.” First Horizon was the presenter of the popular five-day event chaired by Katie Gilly and Anna Schaefer. It opened on a Wednesday evening with partying in the museum. Cameron Gilly and Wes Schaefer joined their wives, as did Katie’s parents Kathryn and Benton Smallpage and Parker and Julia LeCorgne for Anna. Additional leadership came from NOMA Volunteer Committee Chair Elizabeth Grimes and Catherine Favrot, president of the Garden Study Club of New Orleans, which welcomed the throng, along with the museum. Susan M. Taylor is NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director. In alphabetical fashion, Meredith Claiborne and Elizabeth Wooten bookended the committee’s 36 names.

After First Horizon, the top sponsor names, Bouquet, were the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Foundation and Timber and Peggy Floyd, and for Iris, Dathel and Thomas Coleman, the J. Edgar Monroe Foundation, Katie and Gray Stream, Jenny and Robb Vorhoff, Palm Orleans and Red River Bank. Orchid donors were the above Gillys and Schaefers, as well as Elizabeth Boh, Marion Bright, Caroline and Murray Calhoun, Sally and Walter Cockerham, Susan and Jimmy Gundlach, Sarah Louise Wood Ham, Jones Walker LLP, Diane Sustendal Labouisse, Sally and Jay Lapeyre, LCHC Health, Jay and Miggy Monroe, New Orleans and Company, Pixie and Jimmy Reiss, and Lynn and Charlie Smith. Most were noted at the above patron-preview partying that packed the premises. Hundreds and hundreds made “Palm” the place. Two made it their outfitting. Over their dark suits, Bently Graham and Jack Sullivan wore greenery capes created by Stephen Sonnier of real palm fronds.

The party pack savored the cuisine of 14 generous purveyors; libations from the Goldring Family Foundation and Sazerac New Orleans; and dozens of silent auction attractions. Chief among them was a work by symbolic colorist Gretchen Weller Howard, the auction’s featured artist. Titled “Islanders,” a depiction of it graced the covers of AinB’s invitation and printed program. The bidding was virtual, running for a week.

Apparent to the eye, and all over the museum, were the exhibitions, which were bannered Creative Designs, Exterior Designs, Garden Clubs, Ikebana, Movers & Shakers, Professional Florists, Tablescapes, and Young Artists. Special thanks tapped Hotel Saint Vincent, Uptown Frames, and Pavilion of the Two Sisters.

It was to the nearby latter location that a Thursday throng hied after attending morning lectures by interior designer Amanda Lindroth and landscape and floral designer Lucy Hunter. The pavilion was the site for midday socializing and sartorial sights. Ralph Brennan Catering & Events fed the flock and SOSUSU (Susu Stall) presented the fashion show. “Well-attended” underscored both phases.

Meanwhile, the museum was open to the public for four days and the pleasures of “Paradise under the Palms.” “All the exhibitors really enjoyed working with the theme, a tropical one,” said Anna Schaefer after the floral fact. When all was said and blossomed, both she and AinB co-chair Katie were thrilled with the impact of this vernal event when flower power rules.

A Hatter's Happening

The Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association and Angel Wings Foundation presented “All that Jazz with a Little Pizzaz” to theme the 38th annual Mad Hatter’s Luncheon and Fashion Show. The J. Edgar Monroe Foundation was a top sponsor. Patrons starting arriving at the venue, the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, at 10 a.m. An hour later, the doors opened to the larger attendance and auction items beckoned. Also during the 11 o’clock time slot, guests’ hats were judged in a contest that featured categories of Most Whimsical, Most Beautiful, Best Ensemble, Festive Fascinator, Best Group and Best Original Theme. Jean Rice and Nancy Adams were two of the individual winners. Huddling as judges were Jack Sullivan, Tracee Dundas and Stephen Sonnier.

The program commenced when guild president Joanne Mantis, welcomed everyone, and Dr. Mary Anderson gave the invocation. A Bibb lettuce salad, pecan-roasted chicken breast, and a white chocolate and caramel crunch dessert constituted the menu.

The sartorial “menu,” the event’s fashion show, was presented by Ballin’s 2023 Collection. Twenty-six looks, especially the one-shoulder, periwinkle dress, caught every eye. Thanks aplenty targeted Wendy LeGardeur of Ballin’s LTD.

Before the program concluded, the judges were recognized and the contest and raffle winner announced. New Orleans Opera Association General Director Clare Burovac had the closing remarks and extended a host of thanks, notably to the guild.

And the who’s who? The event’s committee members proclaimed “Hat’s off to you!” to the “Pizazz” co-chairs Marian Gibbs and Kathy Weidner. They were helped by Debbie Alciatore-Empey, Mary Anderson, Cherry Bordelon, Charlotte Bracey, Liz Broekman, Diane Dupin, DeAnna Dupont, Marlene Duronslet, Carrel Epling, Deborah Fagan, Dr. Erin Fleming, Michele Goldfarb, Melissa Gordon, Carol Hall, Darleen Landry, Brenda Mabry, Melanie Manzella, Dr. Jane Cagan Miller, Peggy Parr, Erynn Patania, Faith Peperone, Stephanie Rogers, Rita Satawa, Stephanie Salvaggio and Mimi Schlesinger.

Arguably the most important were a certain sixsome – the characters encountered by Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. Karen Villavaso portrayed the tale’s Queen of Hearts; Amy L. Carbonette Ciol, Alice; Amanda Green, the White Rabbit (with a little wiggle of the tail); Margarita Bergen, the Caterpillar; and Sonya David, the Cheshire Cat. As the Mad Hatter, whose name titles the luncheon and inspires the wearing of chapeaux, Tim Fields sauntered forward.

An Evening to Celebrate

The 2023 Good Apple Gala unfolded in the Four Seasons with music by the Brinkmann Trio, food by the deluxe hotel, and an after-party in the lobby-level Chandelier Bar. It was put on by Louisiana Appleseed, which “ensures that thousands of low-income residents have access to a no-cost attorney to assist with veteran’s benefits, access to food, secure housing, and employment." Adrienne Wheeler is the executive director. Entergy (Diamond) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Jones Walker and Leger & Shaw (all three, Gold) were the sponsors. The Urban League of Louisiana was the Community Good Apple honoree with UL executive director Judy Reese Morse accepting the award.

The Pro Bono honorees were Goodwin Procter law firm with Mike Casaburi, Sebastian Iagrossi, Sabrina Poulos, Owen Remeika, and to accept the tribute, Brennan Meier; and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana with Benjamin Mahoney accepting. They were in turn congratulated by gala co-chair Bryce Addison (Deutsch Kerrigan), Louisiana Appleseed board president William D. “Bill” Shea (Adams and Reese) with spouse Rhonda, Judge Tiffany G. Chase, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods, Sharonda Williams, Walter Leger Jr., Phillip Wittmann, Brooke Tigchelaar, Ron Austin, Philip Claverie Jr. and scores more who help improve access to justice, opportunity and education.