Blog Archives

Posts from December 2014

“Investing for Good”

This piece is reblogged. The original article can be viewed here.

In its first four years, Grow Dat Youth Farm has grown 25,000 pounds of organic produce. Now the urban agriculture nonprofit organization is planting seeds of a different kind and creating a recipe that gives other organizations the ingredients for success.

Using a $100,000 “Investing for Good” grant from Capital One Bank, Grow Dat is showing other organizations how to repeat its business model to address the shortage of fresh produce options. Grow Dat, which has graduated 100 youth leaders, is working to educate and inspire New Orleans youth with leadership and job opportunities.

“I think the program works because of our holistic response to a multitude of issues,” said Johanna Gilligan, director of the Grow Dat Youth Farm. “We are addressing a lot of problems — from environmental to lack of job opportunities for youth — with a single solution.”

Gilligan, who founded Grow Dat Youth Farm in collaboration with Tulane University and other organizations in 2011, says that Grow Dat’s first partner is the local nonprofit organization Bayou District Foundation. The action plan that they create will assist Bayou District in developing a similar program.

Funding from Capital One Bank, which operates more than 50 branches in greater New Orleans, will support the initial curriculum design as well as the launch of the new Bayou District program.

“Capital One Bank truly sees the value in our work and has invested in it,” Gilligan said. “We are creating a positive impact and taking it to the next level.”

Located on seven acres in New Orleans City Park, Grow Dat works with several high schools and youth organizations to recruit paid interns and teach them how to grow vegetables and fruit and prepare them for market.

Gilligan says Grow Dat’s commitment to create healthy communities through urban agriculture has piqued the interest from other nonprofit organizations throughout the country. They plan to make Bayou District the first of many partnerships. 

“Although there are other youth farms across the country, there is something that resonates about what we do here at Grow Dat,” said Gilligan.


For more information about Grow Dat Youth Garm, please click here. 

PERFECT date-night ideas!

New Orleans City Park is a romantic place no matter what season it is in New Orleans. The Park is a wonderful place to create memories! 

PERFECT date-night ideas:
Celebration in the Oaks and a round of Mini Golf!

OR A round of Mini Golf and hot beignets from Morning Call.

OR Swing on a double sided swing at the Goldring Woldenberg Great Lawn while drinking Cafe au Lait. And these options are all within walking distance of each other! 

There's also: walking hand-in-hand through shade from ancient oaks, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, gondola rides through Park lagoons, walks in the the five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, plus so much more!

A few light-hearted highlights from the CPIA Board Minutes from 1891-1899

As some of you may know, our City Park Imrpovement Association Board minutes go back to 1891. Historically, they have been written in great detail. We are –slowly- going through the minutes in order to post highlights on our website timeline. With the help of four Tulane students we will soon be adding four more decades to the website timeline.

Below please find a few light-hearted highlights from 1891-1899:

*No one knows what to do with the two cases of wine won during the summer at the French Society Entertainment, as the tickets were purchased by the entire board.
*It’s decided to purchase a mower, hire a man to mow, build flower beds and buy a cart “for the purpose of moving mud and filling up low places.”
*The driving gate is repaired for the sum of $45, “on account of the damage done to said gate by Dr. Stumph in June” – who said he would pay for the repair but refused when he saw the bill.
*There is a problem with Mr. LaFrance’s cows coming into the Park off his pasture, and the board wants him to put up a fence, which he won’t do.
*A shipment of goldfish is received by the Park – no one knows what to do with them.
*Bought a pair of deer.
*Deer in the Park killed by hunting dogs
*March 17th - Lake overcrowded with fish, so the committee decides to allow fishing on Sundays for 50 cents per person.
*April 21st – Fishing in the lake no longer allowed, as the fish were being depleted too quickly.
*A “freak half-duck half-chicken” is donated to the Park. The park accepts the gift with thanks.
*No arrests in the Park this year “which goes to show that the Park is frequented by good and respectable people.”
*The offer of a bear to the Park is declined, as a man was killed in the Park by a bear a few years ago.

Although the above references are light-hearted the board minutes when viewed as a whole are absolutely fascinating and enlightening. 

Start a Family Tradition Today at Celebration in the Oaks

One of my favorite family traditions to do each year with my twin daughters is the have their pictures taken with Santa at Celebration in the Oaks. Each year Romaguera Photography Studio offers pictures with Santa in the Gazebo behind the Carousel. Romaguera Photography Studio does a beautiful job changing the set each year to make each photo unique. Santa is available every day through December 23 and Mrs. Claus joins him on Friday and Saturday nights. Romaguera Photography Studio offers packages of print photos as well as an opportunity to purchase the digital file of your photo. I love being able to buy the digital file and use the photo in many different ways. I have always received the file to my e-mail the same night. My girls love going to see the lights at Celebration in the Oaks and love their annual visit with Santa!

Start your own family tradition today!

Click here for a money saving coupon! 

-This piece was written by Geneva Longlois-Marney, Major Gifts Officer for New Orleans City Park. Geneva can be reached at

President’s Awards: given to deserving members of the New Orleans City Park family

Each year, as the year and tenure of the current CPIA Board Presidential term ends, the President's Awards are given out to deserving members of the New Orleans City Park family.
This year’s deserving winners are:


City Park Gives Back!

Pictured: Staff from ILSP and Stephanie Burkhardt, CP Dir. of Human Resources

The holidays are a good time to reflect and be grateful. The Park and its employees have much to be grateful for - the last year's been a wonderful one for the Park!

Here are just a few examples of positivity in 2014: With help from the New Orleans Botanical Garden, our first Earth Day in City Park was a big hit! City Park opened Parker's Cafe and Parker's Pizza; both in Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Our wildflower fields brought joy to many people (and they'll be back in the spring y'all!). We celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles playing in City Park. Just before its May one year anniversary, City Putt celebrated the 100,00th round of mini golf played at the facility. With help from Friends of City Park, the Carousel's restoration was started. We've planted over 6000 new trees since August of 2005. We entered into the 2nd year of Celebration in the Oaks using 99.9% LED lights.

Along with so much positive movement forward, City Park employees decided to give back to the community this year. We were able to give clothes and toys to 30 children from 13 families from the Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) in New Orleans.

ILSP provides emancipation services to foster youths, ages 16-18, for release from foster care, with the objective of preparing them for responsible adulthood. An array of workshops and classes are offered to ensure that the youths are meeting their individual goals. Activities for youths, ages 14-15, are focused on developing social skills while youths, ages 16-17, learn independent living skills. 

The City Park Carousel chariots returned to the Park

The City Park Carousel chariots returned to the Park Friday, December 5, 2014,  after being fully refurbished for the first time in 30 years. Instead of painting them a solid color, the craftsmen from WRF Designs led by Bill Finkenstein, painted them multiple colors in order to bring out the detail in the carving. The craftsmen also painted flowers on the back of the chariot. They are truly a site to see. Visit them at Celebration in the Oaks through January 3rd then again after February 28th when Carousel Gardens opens for the Spring. 

A New 100-foot Pedestrian Bridge in City Park

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, a 100-foot pedestrian bridge was installed between the Volunteer Center and Couturie Forest at 1009 Harrison Avenue.

The bridge arrived on semitrailers in two 50-foot sections.  It was off-loaded by a large crane and then bolted together to form one 100-foot long bridge.  The crane then hoisted the bridge over the lagoon and the ends were secured to the previously installed footings.  (Guys and machinery are involved so there were multiple opportunities for delays!)

Near the birdge, a fence was installed and new gravel parking lot was placed in the area. 

Funding for the project was provided by the Louisiana Recreational Trails Program, City Park, and Friends of City Park.

Celebration in the Oaks: open nightly!

The Bayou Metairie Monster

This is a reposted blog piece. The original piece from can be viewed by clicking here

By Melinda Shelton, Mid-City & More columnist
(on on December 04, 2014 at 2:57 PM, updated December 04, 2014 at 2:58 PM)

On a balmy, winter evening in New Orleans, my canine sidekick Liza Jane met me at the front door, leash dangling from her mouth, brown eyes bright with excitement. I recognized the "you're taking me for a walk, human" behavior.

"It's dark, Liza Jane," I told her. Her perky ears drooped a tad. "Ok, I'll just take you on a quick spin around the block. But that's it. You know we've been binge-watching 'Criminal Minds' so let's stay close."

Liza Jane dogged my every step to keep me on track. After I triple-locked the front doors, I turned in time to see Liza walk to my car and drop her leash. She shot me a killer canine look. I parked near Morning Call and barely had time to lift the car's rear hatch as she leapt out, triumphant. With my phone on silent and tucked it in a pocket beside my Mace, we started our walk around the lagoons in City Park.

It was eerily darker than usual. I realized park officials had turned off all of the lights, as in light poles and Christmas decorations, I suppose to build suspense for Celebration in the Oaks that was opening its nightly run Dec. 5. The lone illuminated display was the green serpent in the lagoon.

A musician shrouded in the darkness under live oaks played a mournful saxophone tune, which floated across the smooth-as-glass water. A talkative group of runners emerged from the shadows and disappeared again, reminding me of the flocks of birds I hear before I can spot them in a darkening twilight sky. A couple with a toddler ambled by, and the woman yelped when she finally looked up from her texting. "Sorry," she murmured.

I wanted to tell her and her male companion to turn off their danged phones for just five minutes, watch the kid more closely, and feel and hear and smell the park. Southern manners prevailed.

We made an abbreviated circuit of the lagoons and stopped at Morning Call.          That's where we met Erin Osbrach, an energetic worker at the 24-hour coffee shop. Before I could settle into a wrought iron chair on the patio, she had a glass of water on the table and said she'd be right back with my to-go order of beignets and small hot chocolate. She was back in a flash: "The beignets were just made and are hot," she said.

I was scribbling notes in a memo book, looked up and smiled. In the same time it took her to get my to-go order, I learned she's a college student, has been working at Morning Call for awhile and loves meeting the people, especially international tourists, and it's a really great place to work.

I introduced her to Liza Jane, who peeked out from beneath my chair, and she laughed when I said the dog loves beignets.

"You look familiar. Are you a writer?" she asked.  I nodded. Her exuberant energy was palpable. "I thought I recognized you from your photo. You write a column and you write about your dog sometimes, right?" Liza Jane emerged and nuzzled up to the human who recognized her celebrity status.

After a brief visit, I walked Liza Jane to the Great Lawn. As I sat on a bench and sipped creamy hot chocolate, Liza settled at my feet, and we shared beignets. I laid the brown paper bag on the ground and laughed as she stuck her head farther into it to get to the powdered sugar at the bottom. She emerged, muzzle caked with white sugar, sneezed, and smiled—really.

A nearly full moon emerged from clouds, and life unfolded, uneventfully, around us.

During 2015, I hope we all will take more time to disconnect from our devices and reconnect with family, friends, felines, canines—and delightful people like Erin.

The Making of a Man: Stanley W. Ray, Jr.

This blog post was written by Kim Bernadas, the sculptor who created a piece currently in City Putt.

The Making of a Man
When I was first approached by Conrad Meyer IV, representing the Stanley Ray Trust about creating the life size Bronze sculpture of Stanley W. Ray, I wondered what I was getting into. Although excited at the opportunity to create a life size bronze of Stanley Ray, my task as a sculptor would be challenging.  Despite his well known name and reputation as a benefactor and a fine gentleman, his physical image was one of a mystery. With only a couple of photos and a worn newspaper clipping, I was asked to create the 6’4” presence of Stanley Ray for the City Putt mini golf complex, located in New Orleans City Park.
I asked myself, “Who was this man?”
As with every new portrait sculpture, I am driven by the desire to represent the subject true to life, both inside and out. What makes the sculpture come to life lies in the ability to capture the essence of the individual both physically and soulfully.  I wanted to bring Stanley Ray to life.
As I began to dig into the history of Stanley Ray, one thing was very evident… Stanley Ray was a giver. Even as small boy, he was placing the needs of others ahead of himself. After his parents died unexpectedly, Stanley, only a teenager, took charge of his siblings and remained their faithful mentor. His destiny seemed to be in the making.  Throughout his life, Stanley reached out to the community in whatever way he could, to bring joy and assistance to the young children in need. His efforts can be seen in City Park, Audubon Park, playgrounds and meditation walks around the city, and now the beautiful family golf course, City Putt.
It was my mission, as a sculptor, to express his energy for life and his warm and giving nature in the sculptural form. Speaking to those who knew Stanley, they reminisced about how he looked, his demeanor. And finally, after reading about his accomplishments , I was then able  create his image as it stands today, welcoming all those who enter City Putt, his warm smile offering the promise of a fun time for children of all ages.  The legacy of Stanley Ray lives on as an example for all, in that the greatest reward lies in the joy we can bring to others.
Stanley W. Ray, Jr, was born in New Orleans in 1915, graduated from Jesuit High School and attended Tulane University. He also served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Mr. Ray died in 1970.
You are welcome to visit the sculpture of Stanley W. Ray, Jr. at the front of City Putt’s New Orleans Course. The course is sponsored by The Stanley W. Ray, Jr. Philanthropic and Civic Trust.

-Kim Bernadas, Sculptor