by Kevin Allman
Sage was burned, the Treme Brass Band played, and Congo Square dancers did the bamboula at the Nov. 18 reopening of Armstrong Park in the Treme, which had been behind chain-link fence since last year when it became clear that the Roots of Music Sculpture Garden had been installed shoddily. Making the repairs and reopening the park was a stated goal in Mayor Mitch Landrieu's State of the City address earlier this year, and before he cut the ceremonial ribbon, Landrieu acknowledged the work had been done with "a lotta fits, a lotta starts and a lotta anxiety."
A few images from the park and from the ceremony:
More details below the jump.
"This particular piece of our history took a beating", Landrieu added. (As an aside, the mayor mentioned that 8,000 people (!) stood in line the other day for tickets to The Lion King, which begins a four-week run in March 2012 at the park's Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.)
Also on hand were NOPD chief Ronal Serpas; Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant; Kenner-born political pundit Donna Brazile; and City Council members Kristin Gisleson Palmer, Eric Granderson and Jon Johnson.
The statuary in the park — saluting the city's musical history — was impressive, with statues of Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Big Chief Tootie Montana, a brass band, Congo Square dancers and the French Opera House. More statues (including one of Sidney Bechet) are on the way, and the park already has a colonnade of freshly planted palm trees just past the park's famous white arch at St. Ann Street.
Palmer — in whose district Armstrong Park sits — mentioned that the sound of the (planned) streetcar going down N. Rampart Street would soon supplant the sound of drums in Congo Square, while Grant said the city's next task was to improve the Municipal Auditorium, which still hasn't reopened since Hurricane Katrina.