On a not-so-chilly summer night, I went to chill out with hundreds of fellow shoppers at the Big Chill, River Ranch's annual summer evening event and the perfect cure for shop-aholics. In addition to keeping doors open after hours at many of my favorite boutiques in town, this year's event, held on Aug. 9, featured the official opening of the new Main Street area at River Ranch. People were strolling through the warm summer evening, and many shops invited guests in, luring them with free drinks and eats. A complimentary glass of chardonnay while I check out the new Jimmy Choos? OK, twist my arm! It was easy to cruise from store to store, meet and greet people and enjoy a wonderful, old-world atmosphere ' almost like mingling in the streets of Paris or Rome. I really loved the free chair-massages and manicures offered by the folks at River Spa. What can I say? I'm always up for a little more glam, and my new sparkle-red nails really made me fit in with the crowd, dancing to the music of Nik-L-Beer. The event was produced by River Ranch Hospitality in conjunction with the associated stores, and, Oh, what a night it was!

Sometimes, being the girl about town does have its drawbacks; I had to curtail my party going at The Big Chill to make it over to another wonderful event. "Sippin' in the Sunset," a fund-raiser for the annual Festival of Light Christmas spectacular in the Oil Center. The event drew a fun-loving and festive crowd of 200-plus patrons to the Petroleum Club for live music and dancing. Good thing I decided against buying those Jimmy Choos after all ' I would have had blisters from dancing in new shoes all night. Fine foods were catered by the Petroleum Club as well as Oil Center restaurants like Antoni's, Blue Dog Café, Zeus and Popeyes. I nearly hurt myself on an out-of-this-world carrot soufflé and left with a full stomach, tired feet and thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head.

And even though you might not think it, Party Girl isn't always about partying. I recently attended a ceremony at the Children's Museum downtown to honor Mike Harson, district attorney for Acadia, Vermilion, and Lafayette parishes. Mike presented Marvita Hudson, director of administration of the Children's Museum of Acadiana, with a donation to the museum of funds raised through the 12th Annual Mike's Open Golf Tournament. The contribution will help support a variety of CMA programs and exhibits, starting with "Learn the Ropes," in celebration of the 250th birthday of the Marquis de La Fayette, followed by Kid's Alive in Parc Sans Souci in October, a series of fall courses in ham radio technology, and even an interactive exhibit featuring the art of Marc Chagall. The Children's Museum of Acadiana is a privately funded, nonprofit organization that I encourage everybody to help support. This wonderful place is filled with learning and exploration for kids. I'm even thinking about volunteering my own services, you know. Maybe teach a little science between luncheons and cocktail hour.

Party on! ' PG

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