The first wave of spring fundraisers helps keep City Park and PRC afloat

Making a splash!

By Nell Nolan

Two recent events that served as a prelude to both spring and Easter activity had an aqueous accent. “Revelry on the River” headlined the 36th annual Julia Jump of the Preservation Resource Center, which took place in the River City Ballroom of Mardi Gras World at Port of New Orleans Place. Meanwhile, and concurrently, Friends of City Park’s Lark in the Park set social sail for the Caribbean with “Cabana Nights.” It served as a fundraiser for City Park’s newest addition, the Splash Park.

Lark in the Park

Lark in the Park 2013. Helen Smith, Jackie Palumbo, Bill Hoffman and Kimberly Zibilich. Friday March 15, 2013. (photo by Daniel Erath)

Although islands in the sun were the festive focus, the tropical-themed “Cabana Nights” took place in The Lord & Taylor/Capital One Bank Rose Garden, where simple elegance was underscored. To tout the theme, there were cabana tents for major donors; the VIP Copa Club equipped with its own caterer, GW Fins; and a cigar roller from the Cigar Factory New Orleans. Lush greenery adorned the tables, and string lights lined the walkways.

For the patron party, also in the rose garden, 300 notables partook of passed hors d’oeuvres by Little Gem Saloon as they listened to the serenading sounds of Julio and Cesar’s Latin guitar music.

When it was time to gala-vant, the patron pack and another round of revelers enjoyed the cuisine of more than 40 restaurants, such as nearby Ralph’s on the Park and several French Quarter spots, including the soon-to-open Tableau (adjacent to Jackson Square). Bonerama headlined the gala, providing the musical menu.

For the live auction, all 13 packages had a Caribbean theme. One of the choice offerings was a done-on-site painting by artist FrenchyLive commemorating “Cabana Nights” and purchased by Vincent Palumbo for his wife, Jackie. She enjoyed the chairing limelight along with Helen Read Smith, who was joined by fiance Timothy Young, and Kimberly Zibilich with husband Keith.

Additional “Nights” notables were Friends President Mary Johnson with Keith, Friends Executive Director Rodney Thoulion, City Park CEO Robert Becker with Patricia, Robert and Donna Taylor, Jim and Debi Davies, Bryan Batt and Tom Cianfichi, City Park Imrovement Association President Bill and Denise Hoffman, Juli Miller Hart and mom Jerri Cullinan, Mark Romig, Robert and Dr. Mary Lupo, John and Mary Burke, Walter Navoy, a mother-daughter duo in Roberta and Tania Hahn, Karen Adjmi, Keith Treuting, Maria Huete, Dr. Peter and Karen DeBlieux, Clay and Michelle Moise and countless others. All concurred with CEO Becker’s remark that “Cabana Nights” served as a showcase for the Botanical Garden. He continued, saying, “Lark is a spectacular event that makes you proud to be a part of City Park.” Hark!

More than 450 “Jumpers” celebrated the PRC’s frolic that offered a beautiful view of boats traveling the Mississippi River. Thanks tapped Julia Jump lead sponsors Chevron, Bisso Towboat Company, Inc., and Fidelis Continental LLL/Mr. and Mrs. H. Elder Brown Jr.

To launch the levity, patrons rubbed shoulders for an hour and a half with the Big Easy Brass Band providing the backdrop scintillation. For the Jump itself, Louisiana Spice mixed up the musical ingredients. Those of a culinary kind came from the 20 restaurants that purveyed.

The auction items totaled more than $100,000 in value with jewelry, artwork, trips, spa and beauty treatments, restaurant gift certificates and more goodies eliciting the bucks. There were even Caribbean vacations to Antigua and Barbados, as well as a South Pacific jaunt to Fiji. A raffle by Wellington & Co. added still more lovely lucre.

Appropriate for the “JJ” initialed fun were the chairwomen, both of whose names start with a “J”: Joy Grace and Jill Pipes. Among their committee cohorts were Meg Baldwin, Melissa Beaugh, Jeanne Boughton, Erin Dugan, Skye Sturlese Fantaci, Mandi Frischhertz, Julie Habetz, Caroline Kearney, Malise Kearney, Sarah Martzolf, Courtney Nalty, Carol Skirloff, Michelle Ogden, Charlotte Sapir, Emily Schneider, Ginger Smith, Christine Walsh, and Tracey Weinstein.

From the board came PRC President David Darragh with Edie, Vice President Ted LeClercq, Janie Blackmon, Julie Habetz and Scott, Gaynell Lawrence, Michelle Ogden with Dr. Field, Anne Morse with Jimmy, Clyde Jacob, Will Hales, Randy Opotowsky, Odom Heebe Jr., and Peter Trapolin. Most were joined by a spouse or guest.

Special guests were numerous and included — all with a title or two — Alma Slatten with Bob Pettit, Al Melillo (another board member) with Genie, Elder and Millie Brown with daughter Elizabeth Kepper Brown, Freddie McAfee, Joe Jones, Muffin and Luis Balart, Carol Starr, and Brandy Whisnant. A top name always is that of Patricia “Patty” Gay, who heads up the PRC as executive director.

All the while, “Revelry on the River” kept on rolling.

Nell Nolan can be reached at

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