Brad Pitt had serious reasons for being in New Orleans this weekend, but he made sure everyone had a good time, too.
At the annual Make It Right fundraiser, held inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel Saturday, about 1,200 guests paid between $1,000 and $2,500 to mingle with stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey. The event raised money for low-income housing in the city's Lower 9th Ward.
"The highlight of the night was the music," New Orleans resident and partygoer Melba Leggett Barnes tells Us Weekly.
Though Sheryl Crow, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg all performed that evening, it was Rihanna, 24, who really "got the place rocking," Leggett Barnes says. "She invited a lot of people on to the stage with her. Everyone was having a really great time and dancing the night away, including Brad and Angelina [Jolie]."
Pitt, 48, co-hosted the event with DeGeneres, 54, who will share footage from their weekend on her eponymous talk show. "They are trying to keep the spotlight on the area and continue the great work since Katrina," Leggett Barnes tells Us. "We are so grateful to them and I consider Brad my 'special angel' because of what he has done for us and other families living here."
(Leggett Barnes' $150,000 eco-friendly house was one of the first to be built by Pitt's Make It Right foundation after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Lower 9th Ward in 2005.)
Other celebrity attendees included Harrison Ford, Blake Lively, Djimon Hounsou, Morgan Freeman, Kanye West, Seal, Aziz Ansari, Spike Lee, Minka Kelly, Josh Brolin, Dr. John, Randy Jackson and Drew Brees.
"They carved this time out of their schedule strictly for this event, and came on their own dime," Pitt told reporters before the fundraiser. "We have so much incredible talent that wanted to come and support the city."
During the event, the Moneyball star "auctioned off his motorcycle," actor and partygoer Evan Cleaver tells Us. "It was funny and quite generous to see Aziz Ansari buy a walk on role for Tyler Perry's next film."
Adds fellow partygoer Meloney Smith: "The mood was electric between everyone. It was definitely a successful fundraiser for New Orleans. It was the hottest ticket in New Orleans in years!"