Tag: Alliance Executive Director Mary Ellen Connellan

Group of People Having Fun

Bastille Bash




By Judy Carmack Bross


Bereted and beautiful, the Bastille Day celebrators stormed the dance floor at the Alliance Française de Chicago recently for the second of two fete nationale parties on the same day planned by a young team of Francophiles.

 Sampling “guimauve” — French marshmallows!

It was the first of the Alliance’s in-person celebrations since the pandemic and the first planned by the newly re-connected Professionals Group. It began with an afternoon of family fun and ended with much joie d’ vivre for the tres chic set.

 Alliance Executive Director Mary Ellen Connellan told us:

 Mary Ellen Connellan, Marc Mangoubi, and board member Rachael Halstuk  Mangoubi.

 “Celebrating Bastille Day has always been a very important event held at the Alliance Française de Chicago, not only because of the day’s significance to France, but it has long been a way for the Alliance community to celebrate in unity with the French people of Chicago. Chapeau to the members of the newly formed Professionals Group of the Alliance who hosted this year’s Fête du 14 juillet.”

Guillaume Lacroix, Consul Général of France in Chicago at the marché

“Over 300 people were ultimately welcomed through our doors to enjoy French music, savor French food from our generous restaurant partners, browse un marché français, and join in singing la Marseillaise led by our Consul Général de France, Monsieur Guillaume Lacroix. The Professionals Group took everything into consideration to be certain something was planned for everyone. It was lovely to see the future leaders of the Alliance work together to create something so fun yet respectful of the traditions of this organization as we approach our 125th anniversary in 2022!”

Family fun in the courtyard

Guillaume Lacroix, Consul Général of France in Chicago

 We’ll let the three co-chairs, Sophie Edwards, Emily Giangrande, and Max Bonnard tell you all about it.

DJ Max Bonnard was born in Lyon and grew up in Paris before coming to the United States for an internship at the Alliance de Chicago.  Currently working in technology in Austin, Texas, he flew in, especially for the Bastille Day celebration.  Bonnard told us:

DJ Max Bonnard

“Quelle fête du 14 juillet!  One for the books. We had so much organizing and seeing everyone who came. La bonne humeur était contagieuse. After playing new French music (L’impératrice, Ichon, La Femme) for a few hours during the evening event, I played a mix of Chicago House, disco and Latin music. It was so much fun, I extended my set one hour!”

 RC Theriault, Andrea Baccara, Anaïs Baccara at the evening event

Emily Giangrande, who planned the afternoon family fete, which included a crepe station, face painting, balloon and banner making and cupcake decorating, related how the team pulled together:

 Veronique and Christian Coudray preparing fresh crêpes

“After imagining the events for months, it was wonderful to see how the planning came together. The Alliance staff and volunteers were phenomenal. Between the two events, we had over 75 people serving food, running games, pouring drinks, and performing all of the behind-the-scenes jobs that kept the day running smoothly. The volunteers came from our in-house volunteer program, the Professionals Group, Alliance Francaise staff, and even friends and family! Everyone worked together seamlessly and it showed in the guests’ experience that day!”

Regional Grey Goose Ambassador Emile Chaillot, Professionals Group members Sophie Edwards (event Co-Chair) and Tukiya Mwanza, and AF School Director, Geoffrey Ruiz

Sophie Edwards, a graduate student working on her MBA at DePaul, coordinated the food and drink from sponsors and many other aspects for the evening soiree.

“We are so lucky this year to have had such incredible sponsors! A variety of French restaurants, pâtisseries and beverage companies truly made our event a success. It was wonderful seeing the community come together again at the Alliance, from our restaurant neighbors to AF members, staff, volunteers and friends!”

  Emile Chaillot, Regional Grey Goose Ambassador

Venteux’s Chef Don Young plating Steak Tartare with smoked egg yolk, sunchoke, mustard, grilled cheese sandwich bite

Assorted macarons from Vanille Pâtisserie

Grey Goose Essences Summer Spritzes

For more information about the Alliance Francaise de Chicago and its future events and classes, visit: af-Chicago.org