As a town roundly known for entertaining its guests with pride and pleasure in the best of times AND the worst of times New Orleans will be taking a moment to celebrate itself. This coming weekend's Crescent City Celebration is a triumvirate of events hosted by the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, a local organization that works with area residents to improve their communities, to recognize the achievement of local neighborhood groups, community nonprofits and businesses in the rebuilding of the city after Hurricane Katrina.
The festivities will include a TRUMPET awards luncheon, a Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods and the Fourth Annual Festival of Neighborhoods. The events spotlight how New Orleans neighborhoods are vital planning and organizational forces at the forefront of the city's redevelopment efforts. The Crescent City Celebration will recognize the outstanding achievements of local communities in rebuilding their neighborhoods and will serve as an occasion for further networking among citizens, planning groups and sponsors. The weekend's events also will encourage future efforts, with the hope that neighborhoods will continue to be buoyed by their partnerships and their successes.
"With each event we wanted to at some point celebrate the milestones and achievements that have been happening in the city," says Timolynn Sams, executive director of NPN. "There's a lot going on, but have we actually identified who our heroes and our leaders are? What they've done to give back to the community?"
The first event of the weekend, THE TRUMPET Awards, conferred by the neighborhood publication of the same name, will recognize achievements of community leaders during the past year in areas such as "Best Business/Neighborhood Partnership," "Best Community Beautification Project" and "Best Recovery Resource." Recipients will be publicly acknowledged for the pride and commitment with which they have improved the quality of life in their communities, and will receive as an award, original artwork by New Orleans artist Tamar Taylor. The event will be hosted by Chuck Perkins on Friday afternoon, March 7, at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center and will include music by James Andrews.
The second event, a Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods, will celebrate the hard work and dedication of neighborhoods with an evening of entertainment at the Howlin' Wolf; food will be provided by area restaurants including N'awlins Flava, Casamento's, and Chateau Coffee House & Café; music will be provided by Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove. Ticket sales, $15 for NPN members and $25 for nonmembers, will benefit NPN's mission to further facilitate community revitalization through the city's neighborhood resources.
The Annual Festival of Neighborhoods, the final daylong, outdoor event scheduled for Saturday, March 8, at Gentilly Terrace elementary school, will showcase the fruits of community labor by bringing together a host of local businesses, neighborhood organizations, schools, government organizations and individuals in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. Informational booths will provide access to representatives of these groups, vendors will sell food and wares and bands and musicians including the Free Agents Brass Band and the Warren Easton Eaglettes will supply entertainment. Children's performers and storytellers including Paula Purvis and Wilhemena Pergrine also will be on hand. The Ashe Cultural Arts Center will host a drum circle and the Audubon Institute's Bugmobile will make an appearance, among others.
"(The festival) is an opportunity where all organizations can come out and interchange information and resources as well as provide a family-friendly event with music and food," Sams says. Neighbors and community members will be able to socialize and learn more about how local organizations fit into the community and the city at large, she adds, with information on such topics as which schools will be open for the 2008-09 academic year, for example.
Reworking its annual Festival of Neighborhoods into a two-day event will give NPN the opportunity thrice over to award the dedication of community members, continue developing networking opportunities and resources for the city's communities, and celebrate the rich culture and diverse aspects of individual neighborhoods.
"All of our neighborhoods have done a really good job in taking ownership of their communities," says Sams. "This is an opportunity to be celebrating ALL of the activities [that are] going on in the city that [aren't] being really acknowledged."
The Trumpet Awards
12 p.m. Fri., March 7
Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 569-9070; www.ashecac.org
Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods
6:30-9 p.m. Fri., March 7
The Howlin' Wolf, 907 S. Peters St., 529-5844; www.howlin-wolf.com
Festival of Neighborhoods
10 a.m.-sunset Sat., March 8
Gentilly Terrace Elementary, 4720 Painters St., 286-2670
Neighborhoods Partnership Network, 3500 Canal St., 940-2207; www.npnnola.com