Under a blue sky and a sizzling sun that would do Louisiana proud, the OTA family celebrated Summer Bayou BBQ June 19 across the street from the Irvine Center.
Celebration-goers were greeted with amusing misspelled welcome signs and a variety of swamp-themed tossing games, including Skee-Ball, a gator feed, a snake pit and a Hoop Zone. The buffet lunch menu featured Cajun-inspired dishes including jambalaya, shrimp and chicken skewers, cornbread and virgin mint juleps. Best of all were the beignets, which, as a most-of-my-life Louisianan, can vouch for as being the bomb and worthy of a little white plate at Café du Monde. Nice job, On the Hook Catering! Ditto props to the OC Music and Dance students who provided the soundtrack for all the fun with some nice, light live jazz.
Over at the cornbread contest tent, six entries vied for the Social Committee’s votes. Jim Lund’s entry took top honors for Best Overall Taste, followed closely by Chase Nielsen’s traditional butter-heavy recipe. Jenna Perez walked away with the Most Creative prize for her whoopie pie-inspired creation, including Mardi Gras-themed colors for the honey buttercream fillings.
A relay race was up next. Teams of four had to cross a long, treacherous wood plank to spoon out water balloons and get 10 back into their buckets. Zachary Sebaa, Alex Becerra, Joanne Ngo and Sean Mar finished first.
Good thing everyone was just about finished with their lunches since it’s tough to eat when your jaw keeps dropping to the ground. That’s exactly what started to happen as a full-size Mardi Gras truck float—pulled by two white horses—rounded the bend on Fitch and clopped its way into the parking lot. The parade of department entries for the Bayou Buggy Contest had begun--with a bang! Marketing’s entry, headed by King Jeremy “Bubba” Nosek, drew gasps of delight and applause from the crowd as the “Gator Done” riders tossed beads to the crowd and then climbed down to join the fun. While their flabbergasting entry exceeded the six-foot limit of the contest’s rules, it was an instant crowd favorite. When it came to predicting the winner of the contest, all bets were now off.
A Parade of Creativity
While Marketing’s entry was going to be a tough act to follow, creativity and genius were on full display as the parade continued and various OTA departments strutted their stuff. Tax Pros second-lined around the celebration with a dazzling Mardi-Gras themed float; Customer Care/CliK Support paraded in their own individually decorated buggies and costumes; Patelli Paschal from Teleservices/GT/CE manned a mobile fortune teller booth; Accounting strutted with an oversized OTA bull/bear figurine; Content Development/Media Production cruised by in an authentic-looking swamp airboat, manned by a crusty old Cajun and towed by Merlin Rothfeld in a gator get-up riding a rusty tricycle (!); Steve Albin represented Education in a clever alligator costume and appeared to be being eaten alive along with some old coursebooks.
A League of IT’s Own
And then…there was IT. The whole team arrived seemingly out of nowhere, heralded by bearers of two enormous purple and gold “IT” and “OTA” flags. They gave us a moment to catch our collective breaths before the entire department followed in a parade that could have impressed crowds in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. The line-up included a drummer, a juggler, a cartwheeling kid (Eyal M’s), a gold lady giant, confetti canons, purple, red and gold smoke flares and festively dressed and masked team members throwing beads to the crowd. Bringing up the rear was the entry’s exclamation point: a golden dragon donned by Mike Lemp, creatively scaled with 4,000 purple and gold spoons and featuring a moving, mechanical mouth.
When all was said and done, IT’s extravaganza split first prize with Content Development’s “Bayou Low, Sell High” airboat, while the Tax Pros’ second line was awarded third place. But thanks to the food, fun, camaraderie and team-building spirit, every member of the OTA family who attended the Bayou BBQ came away feeling like a winner.