Blog Archives

Posts from October 2014

Bob Becker’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Bob Becker, CEO

Today New Orleans City Park’s CEO, Bob Becker, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bureau of Governmental Research. The Excellence in Government Awards took place at the The Westin Canal Place.

Established in 1994, the BGR recognizes government employees for outstanding performance and creative problem-solving. Winners have a minimum of 15 years in service and are dedicated public employees who deserve great recognition for their accomplishments. 

Bob took the helm of City Park in 2001, at a time when the Park was facing difficult financial circumstances.

In early 2005, Bob led the team to create the Park’s Master Plan for the future: City Park 2018.

He was at the helm in August of 2005, when hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federal levees, in his words, ‘annihilated the Park.’ He led the team to push through the devastation and to keep pushing the Master Plan forward. Bob made a vow saying, “We’re going to make it better than it was before. We’re going to build a world class Park.” The Master Plan called for money to be raised and improvements to be made. A target date of 2018 tied the plan to the city of New Orleans’ 300th birthday.

Bob is still at the Park’s helm pushing forward. At the employee lunch marking the 5th Anniversary of Katrina Bob said, “People like to get behind winners. City Park is a winner.” We should all strive to be winners like Bob Becker. New Orleans City Park is proud to call Bob our leader. Congratulations Bob Becker!

Please click here to learn more about the Park's Master Plan.

Who is the Bureau of Governmental Research?
Good government requires constant vigilance on the part of the governed. That’s where BGR can help. They are an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization that is dedicated to gathering information on government and other public issues. Their research professionals analyze government policies, finance, management, and administration, and present the facts to the public. They shed light on complex issues and facilitate productive debate, thereby encouraging excellence in the various governments operating in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area. They arm you with the information you need to make decisions about the future and well-being of our region.

City Park’s Art Scene Blooms with New Sculpture

It was a warm and sunny autumn morning on October 16, 2014, and City Park’s art scene was about to bloom.

As part of the Prospect 3 project in New Orleans, City Park is delighted to have Will Ryman’s sculpture in the Park.

Ryman’s sculpture is called Icon and is an elegant red sculpture with large roses reaching for the sky. You’ll also notice large thorns as with any rose plant.

Ryman build the piece in 2011. It’s painted stainless steel and fiberglass. It reaches 30 feet into the air. The piece is courtesy of the artist and the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York.
The piece was drive down to New Orleans from New York in multiple pieces and it took a full day to put the pieces together.

You can visit the sculpture at the foot of Palm Drive where it meets Golf Drive (but with it being 30 feet tall, chances are you’ll see it before you get there!)

Bonus! Even though Prospect 3 will end in January of 2015, Icon will remain in City Park till at least January of 2017.

Click here to check out's article on Icon

A Texture Story

From the 1930s to today, we're proud to offer the city of New Orleans carefully cultivated gardens. Open year round, twelve acres of gardens and art await you. Whether you are a local or a tourist, make sure to take a leisurely stroll through our many gardens. We know you'll see something new each visit and always leave with a smile. 

The New Orleans Botanical Garden is filled with thousands of plants. This is a story of texture. 

[20 photos below]

Please click here to learn more about the Botanical Garden. Please click here to learn about What's In Bloom this month. 

Biking to Work: I’m Able to Easily Stop to Take Photos

Andrea made this photo in City Park on 10/08/14

It wasn’t until I was asked to write this blog post, around the photo I took on a recent walk to work, that I did some research and found that 30% of Americans live within 5 miles of their work.  It’s a surprising statistic when one takes into consideration that only 3.5% of Americans actually walk or bike to work. I’m one of the lucky ones that falls into both categories.

A little over a year ago I started working for the Human Resources department at City Park.  Part of the draw when I accepted the position was both the Park’s proximity to my apartment as well as the walk’s aesthetic quality. For environmental and financial reasons, I’ve decided to live without a car in New Orleans, and it’s not as difficult as one might imagine. Compared to my native Dallas suburb, it’s a piece of cake, actually I often say that I’d bet good money that I have the most beautiful commute of anyone I know. The low fog on City Park’s open lawns at sunrise - rather common this time of year- is one of the most glorious sights, and I’ve become an inadvertent birder as I casually make note of the differing varieties of waterfowl hanging out on our Little Lake.

Xavier University and City Park

Kenneth St. Charles, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Xavier University

You might well ask, why is a fundraiser for City Park writing about Xavier University? 

Let me back up a bit.  I have lived in New Orleans off and on since 1980.  During that time I have driven by Xavier University hundreds of times.  The number of occasions I actually went to an event or even just drove through campus, however, I could count on both hands. 

I watched the chapel go up at Xavier in recent years and wanted to see it.  Recently, I called my friend Kenneth St. Charles who serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Xavier.  I asked if he would give me a tour and he delivered.  He met me with a golf cart and we spent the next two hours visiting many of the buildings on campus. 

Let me tell you, there are a lot of wonderful things going on under the green roofs of Xavier. 

Designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, the chapel is a sublime and restful oasis amidst the bustle of student activity. No matter your religious affiliation, you will be pleased if you take the time to visit the chapel in the near future.

Aside from the buildings and the impressive scholastic achievements of the students, what really impressed me was the cordial and friendly atmosphere that permeates the campus.  Everyone greeted everyone no matter their rank or role.  Kenneth barely had time to put our golf cart in gear before he needed to stop and answer a question or give directions to new students.

Ok, ok, this is supposed to be a blog about City Park, maybe even fundraising.  My Xavier visit reminded me that the development of a great city is not a linear process.  It’s not a question of going down a punch list and fixing or improving one thing at a time (e.g., public safety, education, healthy living, and potholes).  Rather, all those elements need to be progressing in tandem.

Likewise, great parks don’t happen in a vacuum.  Truly great parks reflect the fact that a city has progressive businesses and great universities like Xavier along with a host of other factors.  Add Tulane, Dillard, UNO and Loyola to the mix and New Orleans finds itself blessed with an annual influx of caring and educated citizens.  Aside from good jobs, they also want a good quality of life and that’s where City Park comes into the picture.

City Park has been going through a distinctive renaissance in the past several years.  I invite you to come and use your Park and to also support it financially.  One of our taglines is “Every Great City Deserves a Great Park.”  We work every day to deliver just that.

Written by:

John Hopper

Chief Development Officer & Director of Public Affairs for New Orleans City Park

(504) 259-1509 /

Keep doing what you’re doing City Park squirrels!

Photo credit to

The original article can be found here


An Imperfect Memory Saves Forests
Rob Swihart, a wildlife ecologist at Purdue University, researched the habits of grey squirrels as they collect nuts and store them for winter food. Because grey squirrels compete with many other animals for the same food source, they tend to bury nuts in many, many secret stashes all over their forest habitat. They can't always get back to spots where they've buried their nuts, either because they forgot where they are or perhaps they've become a meal for another forest animal. That forgotten stash often ends up sprouting into new nut-bearing trees which benefit many animals in the ecosystem.

This is more beneficial to deciduous forests than the habits of red squirrels, which stash their winter food all in one pile. The habit works fine when red squirrels are foraging in evergreen forests and collecting pine cones, the seeds of which can survive fine in these large piles. But when red squirrels are foraging in deciduous forests and storing nuts in these same large piles, the nuts tend to dry out and die. They can't sprout into new trees, which means fewer nut-bearing trees and less diverse and healthy forests.

Even though the fallibility of grey squirrels' memories is beneficial to forests, the fact that they remember as much as they do is astounding. According to research published in Princeton University's journal "Animal Behavior," grey squirrels can remember not only where they buried their caches but also how much is in them. A study showed that squirrels will return first to the caches with the larger amounts of food.



This article of course made me think about our own Couturie Forest and the animals who call it home. Couturie Forest is the perfect place to escape from the city without ever leaving New Orleans. Combined with Scout Island, the 60-acre Couturie Forest is a nature-lover’s haven filled with native trees, scenic waterways, and fascinating wildlife — all in the heart of the New Orleans. 

If you're in City Park's forest, expect to see countless varieties of trees, fish, and birds along the trails and in the waterways. And of course, squirrels too. The City Park staff and volunteers spend many hours taking care of the forest, weeding, mulching, ripping out invasive species, and more. We plant many trees and appreciate when trees sprout from forgotten nuts from squirrels.

Keep doing what you're doing City Park squirrels! 

It’s raining in City Park - and the trees LOVE it!

It’s raining in New Orleans City Park. Which typically means less people are out in the Park enjoying themselves.

But there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud.

The rain is loved by the trees that call the Park home. Directly after a rainstorm, not only do the trees look lush and full with bright green color but the fern, which lives on the trees, transforms.

Resurrection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides Watt) is found growing on the trucks and branches of many of the Oaks in City Park. It gets its name ‘resurrection’ from the way the fern acts during weather patterns at the Park. If you visit the Park during a period with no rain, the fern will be brown and shriveled. It will appear to be dead.

But it's not dead!

Following a rain, that same fern will be green and lush climbing the Oaks’ mighty limbs. It is Louisiana’s only epiphytic fern. We think it certainly adds a special grace to the Oaks in the Park.

Have you noticed this transformation in the Park? We hope you will now. 

Learn more about the Live Oaks of City Park here.

Grow Dat Youth Farm in City Park

Grow Dat Youth Farm’s offices are made out of recycled shipping containers. (Photo: Lauren LaBorde)

{This article is reblogged from this GoNOLA link. Please click the link to read the entire story.}

It seems that New Orleans is poised to become a city where local, sustainable food is ubiquitous, especially considering that the next generation of residents is becoming immersed in the world of urban agriculture. Grow Dat Youth Farm [in New Orleans City Park] is one place where this is happening.

Today’s GoNOLA Find is not only doing great things by providing safe and educational after-school job opportunities to New Orleans high school students, the Grow Dat campus itself is a striking find to stumble upon while exploring City Park. The vision of the Tulane City Center at the Tulane School of Architecture, the bright-green building is made out out recycled shipping containers, a big architectural trend at the moment. Inside, the structure includes offices, a kitchen for cooking classes, handling areas for produce — and composting toilets!

Youth in the farm’s leadership program receive a hands-on education in the process of food production, from farm to table. The students are involved in growing, cooking, eating and selling the food.

Ride your bike along the path in City Park (I like to start by the Big Lake in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art and take a cool spin around the water) and then continue down the path to find the farm by the intersection of Zachary Taylor Drive and Golf Drive. The farm sells its produce at local farmers markets and on the City Park campus, and you can often find Grow Dat’s goods in menu items at New Orleans restaurants. The farm also offers “learning tours” for adults interested in the operation. Check [Grow Dat's] website for details.

Click here to see a great video about Grow Dat Youth Farm.