from The Times-Picayune
by Nell Nolan, social columnist
Saints and SAEs came marching in and lots of folks wanted to be in that number.
"This team will make you and the City of New Orleans proud this upcoming season," announced Coach Sean Payton as he addressed the sold-out crowd in the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel during the 42nd annual Meet the Saints Luncheon sponsored by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans. The response from the 1,112 attendees (which included 80 players and 40 members of the Saints staff and coaches) was an uproarious ovation.
rior to lunch, the club honored longtime Saints executive Berra Bercher. The agenda kicked off with a call to order by master of ceremonies Jim Henderson, the entrance of the players led by the Saintsations, the Naval Air Station's presentaion of colors, Heather Orgeron's singing of the national anthem, Monsignor Clinton J. Doskey's invocation, and the official welcome by luncheon committee chairman William "Bill" Landry. From the Saints management came owner Tom Benson with his wife, Gayle, and granddaughter/owner Rita Benson LeBlanc, along with their staff. A choice moment occurred when Tom Benson and Rita recognized Linda Bourgeois, who retired after 42 years with the Saints organization.
Hearty applause came from such TD Club members as chairwoman Beverly Bellows with Hank, Rosalie and Ivan Edwards, Peter and Karen Abate, Byron and Karen Bordelon, Nicki Candies (sporting a new look), Jerry Peters, MJ Axinn, Charlie and Joan Breaux, Bruce and Anne Gilmore, Charlie Heim, Jim Hand, Cliff and Linda Adams, Leslie and Karen Lowery, Mike Degan, Allan Voss, Cat Fleuriet, Darryl Fricke, Shannon and Greg Ockman, Courtney and Melissa Forvendel, Terry and Bob Lowe, Sal and Betty Giardina, Sal Christiana, and Sal Giardina Jr. Fans were numerous and included Ricky "Mousey" Chiasson, Norma Rowe, Mike Tippic, Eve Vavrick, Shane Finkelstein, David Dalton, Dom Greishaber, Pam Fortner, Lou Provenzano, Barry Breaux, Toni Trapani, Terrell Miceli, Billy Abadie, Karl Zimmerman, Brian O'Neill, Jan Provenzano, Dotty Martino, Jessica Martino, Barbara Frierson, Ginny Kirkland, David Hilbert, and David Pisarich.
Additional highlights were Player Awards for 2008 to Drew Brees, Scott Shanle, Reggie Bush and Troy Evans, and Jonathan Vilma, and the presentation of a check for $7,500 to the Ochsner Medical Foundation to fund the Ray Hester Leukemia Research Program, accepted by Dr. Richard Re.
Little fans included J.J. Brown and Mala Gupta with respective parents Jason and Paige Brown and Amanda and Maneesh Gupta; Marcy Beter and friends; and birthday boy Edward Pattin and his pack of pals, including Jason Rocha, Preston Bodden, Sonny Nepveaux, Tempi Nepveaux, Ronnie Ory, Jessica Licciardi, Amy Boullosa, Jennifer Allemand, Katie and Chris Pattin, Nancy Bordlee, and Derek Dessens. Most sported black and gold.
Fine fraternizing unfolded in the Hermes Bar at Antoine's with the New Orleans Sigma Alpha Epsilon Alumni Association assembling on the eve of the SAE National Convention in the New Orleans Marriott. National and province officers and their wives were honored as part of the "Official Family." Cocktail party headliners were local SAE alum officers Mark Adams (president and with Libby), Harvey Burns (who co-hosted a planning party with Deborah Vinson in her home), Todd Johnson, and Ron Rigamer; pianist Matt Scoggin, who played some SAE tunes; convention chairmen James Irwin and Geary Mason, the recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Service Award; the Rev. Jesse Adams with Nancy; Chip Brooks; Vaughn Cimini; Val Earhart and Diana, at-home hosts at another earlier party; Phil Foster with Lilly; Jim Hailey; Aaron Miller; a dad-son duo in Norvin and Curtis Pellerin; Jack Swetland; David Vicknair; and respective outgoing, incoming and past national presidents Todd Buchanan, Marty Wiglesworth and Ron Doleac with spouses Babsie, Dora and Ellen.