Brad, Ellen & Hyatt Regency New Orleans Raise $5 million for Katrina Homes

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Brad and Ellen tour New Orlean's Lower 9th Ward

On March 10, Brad Pitt and Ellen DeGeneres hosted A Night to Make It Right at the newly renovated 1,193-room Hyatt Regency New Orleans. The gala was the most successful single night fundraising event in New Orleans’ history, raising over $5 million to help build Pitt’s ultra-modern, low-cost sustainable homes in the Lower 9th Ward.

His organization, Make it Right, is largely responsible for bringing attention to the Lower 9th, which otherwise would have been completely overshadowed by the rebuilding efforts in the French Quarter and downtown corridor. Destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhood is rising from the rubble with 76 new homes located about 20 minutes from the Hyatt Regency. The end goal is 150 homes. Every group should pay a visit to feel the spirit of community building, see the homes and educational exhibits, and learn how they can support the effort.

Located in the Central Business District adjacent to the Superdome, the Hyatt opened last year after a 6-year, $275 million renovation following the wrath of Katrina. It offers the largest amount of hotel meeting space in the city with over 200,000 sf of meeting space, supported by inhouse partners: Kuoni DMC, Freeman event planning, Swank A/V systems, Passkey reservation services and FedEx.

For more info, visit our complete story from last year detailing the services and amenities.

hyatt regency new orleans
Hyatt Regency New Orleans

New Orleans’ native Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the evening with hometown hero, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Sheryl Crow. Local starchef John Besh created the 4-course dinner menu with a little help from his famous friends: Chefs Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, Tory McPhail, Brian Landry and April Avnayim, who prepared a Creole/Cajun vegan menu.

John Besh operates the new 150-seat Borne Restaurant, specializing in coastal Louisiana cuisine. Signature dishes include shrimp toast rissoles, oyster spaghetti and seafood stuffed flounder, but don’t overlook the duck poppers with jalapenos and bacon.

Wrapping up the evening, comedian Aziz Ansari hosted the After Party with Kanye West, Seal, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna and Jamie Foxx performing for the star-struck crowd.

The gala was held in the hotel’s 22,500-sf Empire Ballroom and 11,000 sf of prefunction space.

Also in attendance, Angelina Jolie, Portia de Rossi, Sean Penn, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford and Mark Ruffalo lent their considerable star power to the evening.

Learn more about Brad Pitt’s Make it Right homes here: