Whereas on the town to guide an extravagant ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new $80 million Virgin Resorts New Orleans, billionaire Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson got here decked out in a uniform acquainted to most New Orleanians — however the sight didn’t sit effectively with some.
As a part of the festivities, New Orleans’s iconic St. Augustine Excessive Faculty Marching 100 carried out — the Marching 100 is an elite marching band from the all-boys Black Catholic college St. Augustine, a bunch that’s carried out for Pope John Paul II, U.S. presidents, in Tremendous Bowls, and within the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day. Apparently, somebody on Branson’s group thought it was a good suggestion to request a drum main uniform for Branson to don for the ceremony, prompting intense native commentary and backlash for the college, resulting in a response by the highschool’s president acknowledging the controversy, as first reported by NOLA.com.
Within the letter printed over the weekend, St. Augustine Excessive Faculty president Aulston G. Taylor says that whereas some supporters and alumni considered it an “honor” for Branson to put on the uniform, “Lots of you expressed your displeasure and perception that nobody ought to have the glory to put on the distinct drum main uniform with out incomes it as a pupil of St. Augustine.” Taylor clarifies that it was a request from Branson’s group, and says that “ultimately, it was a superb day of cheer,” however notes that emotions of discomfort are legitimate “and won’t be discredited.” Nonetheless, he says, information about Friday’s occasion led to contributions from new donors, and that the hope for the connection with Branson is a “long-term partnership … and one which goes past an preliminary present to the college.”
Virgin Resorts New Orleans debuted Wednesday, August 18, together with the resort’s restaurant, Commons Membership; it opened throughout a summer season that noticed the opening of a variety of big-deal accommodations in New Orleans. The $80 million Warehouse District resort, a couple of years within the making, has 238 guestrooms, a rooftop pool and lounge, a espresso store, one thing known as a Shag Room, and a meals and beverage program from Alex Harrell, a well known native chef who’s led the kitchen at Sylvain, Angeline, and most not too long ago, Resort Peter and Paul. The restaurant, Commons Membership, shares the identical title because the eating places at Virgin properties in Nashville, Chicago, and Dallas.
Whereas emotions might have been combined about Branson’s look right here in New Orleans, for his half, Branson appeared to have a hoot. On his weblog printed Friday, October 8, he wrote, “I’ve had fairly a couple of thrilling experiences in my time, however I’ve by no means received [a] likelihood to guide a marching band earlier than — not to mention one of the best marching band on the earth.”
“I cherished strapping on the long-lasting outfit, full with whistle and baton,” Branson mentioned, including, “I had no concept how exhausting it was although – what a exercise maintaining with the youngsters!” Later, he invoked the dreaded “resilience” phrase — a descriptor many storm-weary Louisianans have grown to detest — writing: “Like all of New Orleans, St. Augustine has proven nice resilience within the wake of the hurricane earlier this yr, and we have been humbled to supply our help to the college in its restoration.”
Branson additionally posted a video from the day to Instagram, demonstrating — unintentionally — why such intensive coaching, auditions, and rehearsals are required of the Marching 100 to don the uniform.