April 9th-12th marked the 32nd annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron. This year's attendance figures indicate that over 386,000* festival-goers enjoyed the music, food, special events, and historic French Quarter. Though hotel occupancy was at 98 percent, inclement weather impacted attendance, which hit a record 733,000 in 2014.
The 2015 French Quarter Festival featured iPhone and Android phone apps, which were available free of charge, courtesy of GE Capital. Nearly 8,700 iOS users downloaded the festival update from last year's app, and 5,100 users installed the app for the first time. On the Android side, over 3,000 users downloaded the app. This adds up to over 60,000 Festival App users.
Rouses sold over 20,000 pounds of boiled crawfish, and Plum Street Snowballs went through 45,000 pounds of sugar to make the syrups used in their 'spirited' and regular snowballs.
The award-winning French Quarter Festival, which began in 1984, has grown to become the largest free music festival in the United States. Twenty-three music stages throughout the area presented the best in New Orleans music, representing every genre from traditional and contemporary jazz to R&B and New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, classical, cabaret, opera, Cajun, Zydeco, world music, international, as well as a musical stage for children. Over 115 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Decatur Street, and the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint made up the 'World's Largest Jazz Brunch,' a signature event featuring authentic local cuisine from renowned area restaurants, many of whom have been with the Festival throughout its entire 32-year history.
To accommodate festival goers Friday through Sunday, the New Orleans Police Department closed down most streets of the French Quarter to traffic - ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for attendees, and title-sponsor Chevron provided free pedicabs. Fest-goers enjoyed dancing in the streets at the Popeyes Brass Band Jam located at the U.S. Mint, and the ever-popular Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase located at the Bienville statue on North Peters St. Very few events in the City are afforded such a traffic closure. New Orleans Police provided strong support throughout the weekend, alongside Fess Inc., Security.
Festival goers attended a variety of free special events throughout the weekend, including Allen Toussaint's first FQF appearance since 1998; the addition of two new stages, the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk with Harrah's Stage and the Omni Royal Orleans Stage; the return of the Chevron Evening Concert Series; newly christened Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage at the riverfront Pavilion; 'Spirited Snowballs' from Plum Street Snowballs with Bacardi, Chambord, Herradura Tequila or Southern Comfort Caramel; an expanded Film Fest at French Quarter Festival done in partnership with Timecode: NOLA and Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré; a lecture series, 'Let them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music'; free dance lessons at two stages; two children's areas, one featuring the Chevron STEAM Zone with learning activities by a host of partners including The Nature Conservancy , The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and FirstLine Schools, Project Lead the Way, The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Louisiana A+ Schools, Audubon Nature Institute, Tulane Pediatrics, New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, and New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (which also had a festival residency with performances all four days); a Pirate's Alley Juried Art Show; Rouses World Championship Crawfish Eating Contest; a riverfront picnic area, the NOLA.com Eat Drink Café located on the riverfront Kohlmeyer Lawn; and Sunday's 'Dancing at Dusk.'
Over 450 guests attended the festival's Opening Night Gala at Antoine's on the first day of Festival. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Roots of Music, a local non-profit that empowers the youth of New Orleans through music education, academic support, and mentorship.
UnitedHealthcare is kicking off its fourth year sponsoring the 2015 UnitedHealthcare IRONKIDS® Series with the second annual UnitedHealthcare IRONKIDS® New Orleans Fun Run, aimed at inspiring and motivating young people to lead active, positive and healthy lifestyles.
The one-mile and quarter-mile UnitedHealthcare IRONKIDS® New Orleans Fun Run will take place Saturday, April 18, at 9 a.m. at South Shore Marina - 6701 Stars & Stripes Blvd. in New Orleans.
Onsite registration begins at 7 a.m., and each athlete will receive a race bib, t-shirt, goodie bag and finisher medal. The fun run course for “triathletes to be” will take place along portions of the course of the IRONMAN® 70.3® New Orleans triathlon, which begins the next day.
UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound will lead youth and their parents in warm-up exercises and join the kids at the starting line to officially kick-off the fun run. The cost for registration and to participate is $15 for kids ages 3 to 15. Registration details are available at www.IRONKIDS.com.
UnitedHealthcare and IRONKIDS® are providing free race admissions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana to encourage participation and help promote the club’s after-school sports, fitness and recreation program.
“The IRONKIDS fun runs give our community the opportunity to have fun together, and begin their day being active and healthy. Walking and running are exercises everyone can do to maintain a healthful lifestyle,” said Ann Kay Logarbo, M.D., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana. “UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to once again partner with IRONMAN and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana.”
This is the fourth year UnitedHealthcare is supporting IRONKIDS as part of the company’s commitment to help stem the rising tide of childhood obesity through healthy lifestyles. The UnitedHealthcare IRONKIDS 2015 Series features nine one-mile fun-runs and a dip-and-dash. Obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to suffer from obesity, which is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers, according to America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. Louisiana ranks 48th in the country, with more than a third of adults and nearly 14 percent of youth estimated to be obese.
“We are thrilled to have a partner in UnitedHealthcare again to sponsor these youth events as part of our IRONMAN series,” said Carola Ross, Chief Sales Officer for IRONMAN. “The opportunity these IRONKIDS fun-runs afford to young athletes in these communities is tremendous, as these races can be the catalyst for a lifetime of exercise and healthy living.”
ST. TAMMANY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation has endorsed Recreation District 16's ballot propositions on the May 2 ballot.
In a letter to the District Board, EDF CEO Brenda Bertus said the Foundation recognizes the value of "advanced recreation facilities in St. Tammany Parish."
"Over the past 20 years, several economic studies have found that the presence of parks increases property values," Bertus wrote. "Since Chattanooga, TN, committed its resources to park development, property values have risen more than $11 million and by almost 130 percent. Furthermore, a 2001 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 57 percent of potential homeowners preferred to buy property closer to parks and that half would pay 10 percent more for property near parks."
Bertus also said the availability of such facilities makes communities attractive to businesses and families - and to tourists - increasing economic development.
"Most importantly, state-of-the-art recreation facilities attract people: business leaders, families, retirees, tourists, job-seekers," Bertus wrote. "In 1998, a KPMG survey of 1,200 high technology workers found that a community's quality of life can increase a job's attractiveness by 33 percent. St. Tammany already enjoys an excellent quality of life - we believe the proposed Camellia Park will significantly redouble that selling point for our parish. STEDF believes Camellia Park will entice new corporations to Slidell, and as a result, consider it an invaluable development for St. Tammany."
"We're extremely happy to have the endorsement of the STEDF," said Sharon Hewitt, chair of the Recreation District 16 Board of Commissioners. "Coupled with the support of the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, this really shows the economic value and potential impact if the voters approve both propositions on May 2."
Early voting will be held April 18-25 at the Towers Building in Slidell. Election Day is May 2.
(From Press releases)