Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Party Goin’ On Right Here

Posted by on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 4:25 PM

New Orleans is known the world over for entertaining its guests in style, but next weekend the city will be taking a moment to celebrate itself. The Crescent City Celebration will include a triumvirate of events hosted by the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, a local organization that works with area residents to improve their quality of life by engaging them in revitalization efforts and the civic process.

The celebration will include a Trumpet awards luncheon, a Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods and the Fourth Annual Festival of Neighborhoods. The events spotlight how New Orleans neighborhoods are vital planning and organizational forces at the forefront of the city’s redevelopment efforts.

The celebration also will recognize the outstanding achievements of local communities in rebuilding their neighborhoods — and serve as an occasion for more networking among citizens, planning groups and sponsors. The weekend’s events will encourage future efforts in the hope that neighborhoods will continue to be buoyed by their partnerships and their successes.

“With each event, we wanted to at some point celebrate the milestones and achievements that have been happening in the city,” says Timolynn Sams, executive director of NPN. “There’s a lot going on, but have we actually identified who our heroes and our leaders are? What they’ve done to give back to the community?”

The first event of the weekend, The Trumpet Awards, conferred by the neighborhood publication of the same name, will recognize achievements of community leaders during the past year in areas such as “Best Business/Neighborhood Partnership,” “Best Community Beautification Project” and “Best Recovery Resource.” Recipients will be praised for the pride and commitment with which they have improved the quality of life in their communities. They also will receive original artwork by New Orleans artist Tamar Taylor.

The awards program will be hosted by Chuck Perkins at noon on Friday (March 7) at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center and will include music by James Andrews.

The second event, a Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods, will celebrate the hard work and dedication of neighborhoods with an evening of entertainment at the Howlin’ Wolf. Food will be provided by area restaurants, including N’awlins Flava, Casamento’s, and Chateau Coffee House & Café. Music will be provided by Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove. Ticket sales, $15 for NPN members and $25 for nonmembers, will benefit NPN’s mission to further facilitate community revitalization through the city’s neighborhood resources.

The Annual Festival of Neighborhoods, the final daylong, outdoor event scheduled for Saturday ( March 8 ) at Gentilly Terrace Elementary School, will showcase the fruits of community labor by bringing together a host of local businesses, neighborhood organizations, schools, government organizations and individuals in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. Informational booths will provide access to representatives of participating groups, vendors will sell food and wares, and bands and musicians (including the Free Agents Brass Band and the Warren Easton Eaglettes) will supply entertainment. Children’s performers and storytellers, including Paula Purvis and Wilhemena Pergrine, also will be on hand. The Ashe Cultural Arts Center will host a drum circle, and the Audubon Institute’s Bugmobile will make an appearance, among others.

“[The festival] is an opportunity where all organizations can come out and interchange information and resources as well as provide a family-friendly event with music and food,” Sams says. Neighbors will be able to socialize while learning more about how local organizations fit into the community and the city at large, she adds. Additional information will be available on a wide array of topics, including schools set to open for the 2008-09 academic year.

During the course of the two days of events, NPN will reward the dedication of community members, continue developing networking opportunities and resources for the city’s communities, and celebrate the rich culture and diverse aspects of individual neighborhoods.

“All of our neighborhoods have done a really good job in taking ownership of their communities,” says Sams. “This is an opportunity to be celebrating ALL of the activities [that are] going on in the city that [aren’t] being really acknowledged.”

The Trumpet Awards

12 p.m. Fri., March 7

Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 569-9070; www.ashecac.org

Toast to New Orleans Neighborhoods

6:30-9 p.m. Fri., March 7

The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S. Peters St., 529-5844; www.howlin-wolf.com

Festival of Neighborhoods

10 a.m.-sunset Sat., March 8

Gentilly Terrace Elementary, 4720 Painters St., 286-2670

Neighborhoods Partnership Network, 3500 Canal St., 940-2207; www.npnnola.com

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