Birds of another feather

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 29, 2007

‘Herons in Hall’ organizer knows the real impact of charity


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Sandra Chaisson knew that money was always tight in her home growing up.

With her father working for years as a taxi cab driver in New Orleans, and her mother working as a waitress, the amount of money for special outings was usually pretty tight since she was one of five children in the family.

That’s why the generous donation of charity groups during her school years, which would annually send her class to special theater productions, or occasionally to hear the symphony, made a lasting impression on her.

&#8220When I was a young girl, I got taken to the theater or to plays with my class. I don’t know who paid for it, but obviously some group was doing that to give us kids a chance to be influenced by the arts,” she said. &#8220I could have never done that on my own since our family couldn’t have afforded such a thing.”

The experience impacted Chaisson for her life, and gave her a love for the arts that continues today as she is now the wife of State Senator Joel Chaisson, and chairperson for the River Region Arts and Humanities &#8220Herons in the Hall” fundraiser that will take place on Saturday, June 2 at San Francisco Plantation, from 7 to 10 p.m.

The benefit is the most important annual event by the River Region group to raise funds so that the same opportunity to grow in the arts which was experienced by Chaisson, may be passed on to other young people.

&#8220Herons in the Hall” is a special fundraiser that will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the River Region group, as well as the 200th anniversary of the River Parishes being formed. Money raised will go to art or historic grants, adding to the $200,000 given out by the group since 2000.

&#8220We wanted to make our 10th anniversary, and the 200th anniversary of the area parishes a special event,” Chaisson said. &#8220I remembered about the Chicago cows being painted, and of course the fish that were painted and displayed around New Orleans, so we tried to find something like that to work on.”

Chaisson spent hours on the computer trying to find something that would work, which would offer area notables a chance to paint a statue of some sort, which then could be auctioned off. But it couldn’t be something too hard for the local group to manage.

&#8220I talked to the woman who headed up the fish project, and she started telling me all about the difficulty bolting the fish to stands, and I knew that was too big. I thought about pelicans, but Lafayette had already done that, but then I saw these heron statues and it proved to be just right,” she said.

Almost 100 herons have been handed out to area artists and notable personalities, and have been getting returned to Chaisson showing a wide variety of talent. The herons will be judged on June 2 at San Francisco Plantation by renowned artist George Rodrigue of the Blue Dog art fame.

Prizes will be given, but more importantly, the herons will be auctioned off. The top 19 chosen by Rodrigue will be auctioned in an on-stage live event, and the others will be up for auction as a silent event. Along with the price of $50 for tickets to the night of entertainment at the show, all proceeds will help fund grants for area artists.

&#8220I remember how much it impacted me to get sent to the theater and the symphony, and that is why I have wanted to be involved in our local group, which helps young artists get inspiration as I did,” Chaisson noted.

The special night at San Francisco Plantation, besides the opportunity to view and bid on all the herons, will offer music, food and drinks for $50 ticket prices. To get tickets, call 651-0021, 764-9596, or 652-2261.