Dîner en Blanc hosts celebration on New Orleans Lakefront
The fifth annual Dîner en Blanc New Orleans featured a sea of people wearing all white having dinner next to Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive.
Guests enjoyed live performances by T-Ray the Violinist, funk and R&B band Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces, and a surprise guest—Hip-Hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh—as they ate, drank, and watched fireworks on the cool and windy night.
The entrance to this year’s international “chic picnic” was located on Franklin Avenue and Lakeshore Drive. Lakeshore Drive was blocked off from traffic.
Truck driver Dwayne Homes, from Louisiana, thought the location was great with it being wide enough to facilitate, also noting how he appreciated the violin solo.
“I think that’s a real nice mood setting… It’s a little something different for people to experience, which is nice because sometimes you don’t get this, and this is what you need, whether [you’re] young or old.”
“The Lakefront is beautiful,” said Brandy Norris, who invited Homes. “The breeze is beautiful.”
Norris said she thought going to the dinner was an opportunity to experience something totally new and to participate in an event that’s pretty new to the city.
Natasha Broady, who works in medical transcription, said she enjoyed the whole idea of Dîner en Blanc and the atmosphere that it ended up bringing.
“There’s a sea of white, and everybody is beautiful,” Broady said. “And it’s just the ambiance of the whole Lakefront area. It’s real nice.”
Most guests that didn’t drive to the secret location carried their picnic materials and boarded a bus to the event from downtown. A few diners arrived by boat. Gentilly resident Lay Walker thought that the event organizers could have adjusted better to obstacles like the University of New Orleans graduation being held on Franklin Avenue earlier that evening.
“They’ve got to do a better job of preparation and planning,” Walker said.
Walker also was unhappy with the Lakefront location because he lives a couple blocks away and is there all the time. “It’s not that the lake is a bad location, it’s just the preparation and process of doing it,” Walker said. “They told us to be there for 4:00, and we didn’t get here until 6:00.”
Walker didn’t think event planners took the graduation into consideration because when his bus first pulled up along Franklin Avenue, they had to make a U-turn and re-enter, due to all the UNO graduation ceremony traffic.
“But hey, I probably won’t be back again,” Walker said. “I’ll never come back again.”
Tom Lodes, who’s wife works at the Spears Group which puts on Dîner en Blanc, said he was surprised that there aren’t more events put on in the city at the Lakefront. This was his first time at Dîner en Blanc.
“This is incredible,” Lodes said. “I’m just sitting out here enjoying it.”
Kia Jason, who is from New Orleans, said she has been to Dîner en Blanc in Washington, D.C. and New York.
“I didn’t expect it to be here,” Jason said. “I would never expect them to have it closed off just for this event, so it’s nice.”
Shani Wayugh had also attended the event in Washington, D.C. before and said she decided to go to Dîner en Blanc in a different city this year, so she picked New Orleans.
“It’s a beautiful night to be out on the waterfront. It’s a perfect location for the event.”
Ryan Funches, who’s mother was a picnic table leader in the event this year, said he was invited to the dinner back on Easter Sunday.
“At first with the whole set up with lawn chairs and tables, I was a little skeptical about it,” Funches said. “But I’m out here enjoying myself.”
Eric Cook, born and raised in New Orleans, said he and his wife were very excited to play the guessing game for where Dîner en Blanc would host their event.
“We were discussing how this is where we hung out when we were kids,” Cook said. “4,000-5,000 people sitting in the middle of the street on the Lakefront is pretty spectacular.”
The May 2017 Dîner en Blanc event expected to bring around 4,300 guests together.
— Jamal Melancon (@Jam_M_Mel) May 14, 2017