New Orleans residents recognize the although their electrified railcars are not unique, and are referred to as trolleys most everywhere else in the world, they are still called "streetcars", not trolleys, in New Orleans. The fact that New Orleans streetcars often have dedicated rail paths, and so aren't always on the street per se, or the fact that they are not really cars, is irrelevant to the proper NOLA jargon for these vehicles. Call them streetcars!
The Miracle on Fulton Street is an annual holiday celebration on the pedestrian walkway between the Harrah's parking garage and entrance to Harrah's Hotel. Opening in late November and free to the public, is an illuminated canopy of lights which is digitally timed to change colors (absolutely beautiful!). "Faux snow" is forcast (read: guaranteed!) every hour on the hour beginning at noon daily. Just stroll through the illuminated tunnel and let the "snowflakes" fall on you. There is live music nightly, photos with Santa, and multiple theme-decorated Christmas trees.
I love to come here (it really is beautiful), and would be a fun thing to do with the kids. Did I mention it is FREE??
Celebration in the Oaks is a New Orleans tradition. In beautiful City Park, the $7 admission fee (under 3 are admitted for free) gets you access to the walking tour with all the light shows, Botanical Gardens, and Storyland amusement park (ride tickets are available inside). LOTS of holiday photo ops, there is music nightly provided by local schools & chorus, Christmas trees decorated with handmade ornaments by the local schoolkids, and lots and lots of lights.
Mr. Bingle is the snowman assistant to Santa Claus, and mascot of the former Maison Blanche department stores (now Dillard’s) much beloved of the residents of New Orleans. A cultural icon since the 1950’s, Mr. Bingle has appeared in TV and radio commercials, Christmas specials, parades, and merchandise (plush toys, ornaments, clothing, etc.). A large papier mache figure would adorn the Canal Street store at Christmas to entice shoppers – that figure has been refurbished and now makes his annual appearance at the Celebration in the Oaks light display in City Park.
Mr. Bingle’s story (below) is attached in booklet form to the several plush toys and ornaments in my personal collection:
When Santa left his shop one day,
He found a snowman near his sleigh,
“You’ll be my helper now,” he said,
And tapped the little fellow’s head.
The snowman found that he could talk,
“Look, Santa, I can even walk!”
And then he gave a little sigh,
“Oh, how I wish I could fly!”
So Santa gave him holly wings
Then looking through his Christmas things
Found ornaments the very size
To make a pair of shining eyes
Then Santa said “You need a hat.
An ice cream cone’s just right for that.
And keep this candy cane with you.
You’ll see what magic it can do!”
The snowman laughed and sang a jingle,
So Santa named him Mr. Bingle.
That’s how it happened. Now he’s here
For us to enjoy throughout the year!
On the morning of our first full day in New Orleans, we ventured onto our balcony to witness what seemed like thousands of people obviously running in some event. This turned out to be the "Crescent City Classic 10K Run." This annual event is organized by the Crescent City Fitness Foundation and also features a post-race festival with food venues and live entertainment and a 2-day health & fitness expo. Many people run or walk for the fun of it alone. But this run also draws world-class athletes in the field of long distance running and bills itself as a premiere mens' distance running event.
It was fun to watch some of the people, those who obviously were not in it for the competition, but for the fun alone. Some people got really creative with "running outfits" if you want to call it that. Young and old, costumed runners and groups all appeared to be having fun. This event takes place in early spring. If interested in joining in on the fun, check the website below for exact details, and schedule.
new orleans has a very large gay and lesbian population and the french quarter is a gay and lesbian tourist attraction. st. ann street runs east and west through the french quarter and most of the gay and lesbian attractions are north of this street. when walking north on bourbon street when you cross st. ann street you will notice the change in the neighborhood. if you are uncomfortable with this life style stay south of st. ann street when in the french quarter.
Be aware. There are several restaurants and clubs and such which only take cash. Adolfo's on Frenchman Street and the Honey Island Swamp Tour are two examples of places which take cash only. It can be an inconvenience, as they do not advertise that up front. So make sure to ask in advance, just to ensure that you have cash on hand if you need it.
As we left the Le Pavillon Hotel to wander through town, we came across these colorfully painted buses tucked along sidewalks and terraces. They reminded us of the painted steers we've seen around the country, which have been creatively decorated by local artists then auctioned off to benefit charities.
I wasn't able to find a thing about this project, so I assume they have been used for the same purpose. These can be found in the French Quarter and are only a small sample of what was displayed.
Voodoo came to New Orleans with the slave trade--the majority coming from Benin, West Africa. Through the years, it became integrated with the Catholic tradition and in many cultures such as in Haiti, corrupted the practice of worshipping Saints, the sign of the Cross, the Lord's prayer and baptism.
I am not encouraging anyone to seek out this religion for experimentation, but to realize it is real and not for entertainment purposes. There are many superstitions related to the practice of voodoo, charms and spells figure along with them.
New Orleans has the unique tradition of The Jazz Funeral, something we did not witness on our visit to this city.
Renowned New Orleans jazzman, Sidney Bechet once commented, "Music here is as much a part of death as it is of life." The New Orleans jazz funeral is a celebration rooted in the African culture that extends back 400 years.
As was the practice, tribesmen were assured a proper burial at their time of death. The practice of having music accompanying their funerals was just part of the basic African pattern of celebration throughout life. When slaves were brought to America, the urge to guarantee a proper burial was bred into their spirits.
Brass bands became popular in the early 18th century and were commonly asked to perform processional music. In the black community, a sorrowful song such as 'Nearer My God To Thee' was played on the way to the cemetery, while the return trip called for happier tunes such as 'When the Saints Go Marching In'.
Today a jazz funeral is a respectful tribute to a fellow musician and certainly something to behold!
Seeing artwork set up on the streets, reminded us so much of our travels to Argentina. I just love the atmosphere generated around it!
Artist, Lee Tucker, portrays the spirit of New Orleans so well in his paintings. We stumbled upon his artwork as we walked about Jackson Square on Thanksgiving day.
We were immediately attracted to his paintings, displayed on the sturdy iron fence edging Jackson Square. I was particularly fond of a painting showing a horse-drawn carriage clopping up Chartres Street--it was such a familiar scene around town.
As we headed for The French Market we noted another artist's samples featuring bright red hearts with colorful flourishes executed on pieces of raw-edged wood, which was perhaps recycled from old buildings. Not my style of art, but definitely creative!
Street musicians had a great opportunity to showcase their talents when some of the streets were blocked towards evening, allowing pedestrian-only traffic.
Cans or buckets were prominently placed to collect donations from passersby. It was not the most pleasant weekend for weather, so many musicians performed in between the raindrops.
Some played quite well while others just so-so, but in a city recovering from a devastating blow from Mother Nature, I thought these individuals were enterprising souls.
Tabasco, Louisiana's famous hot pepper sauce, is actually made on Avery Island, 140 miles from New Orleans, but it plays a big role in the Big Easy's cuisine. You'll even see tiny, pocket-sized bottles sold in stores, so that Louisiana natives won't be deprived of their hot fix while traveling.
I took this photo in the atrium of the Embassy Suites, which provides Tabasco pyramids for its diners.
Though New Orleans doesn't have its own language, the combination of words and alternate usage may throw you off every once in a while. Making groceries? That means gorocery shopping. Dressed? They're asking you if you want tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo on your poboy. Read more of my tips in this section to guide you through your day in NOLA.
"I need to make groceries." = "I need to go grocery shopping"
When you hear someone say, "I'm going to make groceries.", they're not going to cultivate local produce or butcher a cow for the supermarket; they're going to buy the day's or week's supply of food.