Monthly Archives: April 2012

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A Day at Jazz Fest – a New Orleans Must Do

2012 Jazz Fest Blues Tent

In the “city that care forgot,” (or that forgot to care?), the best time of the year is Jazz Fest.  It’s the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May, and we all pile in our cars or get on our bicycles and head for the Fair Grounds to indulge ourselves in all that Jazz Fest is.   It’s the sum of the whole that makes it an experience to anticipate excitedly every year.

You walk in the gate at whatever entrance you choose, and hear the familiar deep tones of the Jazz Fest announcer coming over the loudspeakers.  You smear yourself with suntan lotion and get ready for the sun to begin warming your sandaled toes. You feel the breeze wafting the smell of barbecue from one of the food booths, but you’re not going there.  No, you’re standing in line at the soft-shell crab poboy booth because before you go to hear any music, you’ve GOT to have that rare New Orleans treat . Or maybe for you it’s the strawberry mint iced tea booth you hit first.  Or maybe you immediately go the biggest stage with your friends and set up your encampment, complete with the artistically decorated flag you carry around every year to mark your spot.

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New Orleans Events

NOLA Navy Week

The country was young in 1812, but Louisiana had already been around for a while.  Although we achieved statehood only on April 30, 1812, we had been a colony under France from 1699-1763 and Spain from 1763-1803.  With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, of course, Louisiana became an American possession.  Although it was rough going at first, with the Louisiana Catholic French and Spanish Creole culture colliding with the Americans, we all pulled together when the country went to war.  In many ways, America gained its identity as a nation during the War of 1812.  Certainly, that’s when our “song” was written– what later became our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

This week, we get to relive those events of 200 years ago, when the very young United States of America went to war with England in the War of 1812.  Louisiana played a part in the war, of course, and NOLA Navy Week is kicking off the commemoration of the war this week, from April 17 through April 23.  Similar celebrations will take place in Norfolk, New York, Cleveland, Boston and Baltimore, but we get the honor of beginning and ending the celebration. In 2015, on the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, there’ll be another celebration. And that’s only appropriate, because the British were out to get us here in 1812, and we stood our ground at the Battle of New Orleans, Battle of Lake Borgne, and another assault in Algiers and later at Fort St. Philip in lower Placquemines Parish before the British finally gave up.

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New Orleans Traditions

Easter Candies of New Orleans

Lent is over, and we’re still enjoying our Easter candy here in New Orleans, but this year just isn’t the same.  Although the familiar Elmer’s Chocolates, second largest manufacturer of the heart box in the country and the maker of Heavenly Hash Gold Brick, and Pecan Eggs is still located in the area, it moved across the lake to Ponchatoula in the early ‘60s. Nonetheless, it’s a venerable local company, established in 1855 in New Orleans and today run by the third generation of the Nelson family.  The company’s founder was Christopher Henry Miller, a German immigrant to New Orleans. His first shop was on the corner of Jackson Street and Levee Street in New Orleans.  Later it became Elmer-Miller, the name of Augustus Elmer was added, when he married into the Miller family.   In 1914 it became The Elmer Company . Roy Nelson bought the company in 1963 from the Elmer family, who first began making Heavenly Hash Eggs in 1923 and Gold Brick Eggs in 1938.   Elmer’s didn’t invent the Heavenly Hash recipe, but bought it from a department store.  Today the company makes 15 million candy eggs a year, and we eat a lot of them in New Orleans!

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Louisiana Attractions

Louisiana Basketball Greats

 

Louisiana has its share of basketball greats, both players and coaches.   Superstars Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal both played for LSU.   Robert Parish played for Centenary College in the ‘70s, although his time there flew under the radar due to a harsh N.C.A.A. sanction against the school under the subsequently repealed “1.6” rule.  He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 and was also named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.    Bob Pettit, Jr., the first basketball player ever to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player award, which he received four times, was born in Baton Rouge in 1932 and currently lives in New Orleans. Coach Dale Brown led the LSU Tigers to Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986 and was named College Basketball Coach of the Year in 1986.    Right now in New Orleans we’re hosting the national men’s basketball N.C.A.A. championship tournament at the Superdome through Monday night, April 2.  Let’s take a look at another local basketball star, Kim Mulkey.

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