What to do beyond Jazz Fest for the rest

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Far from the madding crowds, there are plenty of options for those who aren’t terribly festival when it comes to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, or maybe not even the ancillary musical shows around the city over a two-week period.

And truth be told, it can often feel like Jazz Fest sucks the oxygen out of the cultural air even if New Orleans somehow continues to motor along outside the of the Fair Grounds. Not unlike Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest has its own rhythms, its own allure, its own vibe. And it’s not for everyone. There are other options.

“Jazz Fest is a premier music and cultural celebration in the City of New Orleans. Every year residents and visitors from across the world gather for two weekends of music, food, and fun,” said NORD CEO, Vic Richard. “What many don’t realize is there are lots of other fun things to do across our city, and NORD plays host to several family-friendly events.”

Other options have their own festive vibe.

“It may come as a surprise to some, but Jazz Fest is not the only place to enjoy great music and mouth-watering New Orleans food on the first Friday in May,’’ said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “For four decades, Audubon has presented what’s now known as Whitney Zoo-To- Do on the picturesque grounds of Audubon Zoo. We like to call our black-tie fundraiser a party with a purpose because it has helped Audubon build and expand countless animal habitats and other Zoo projects over the years. And since the festivities don’t get going until 8 p.m., the young at heart can take in Jazz Fest and still have time to head on down to the Audubon Zoo for a little after-hours partying.’’

Here’s a little roundup to give you some ideas.

Zurich Golf Classic
April 23-29
TPC Louisiana, Avondale

The Zurich Classic is like Jazz Fest for golf fans; each of the 18 holes sets a stage for some of the best the PGA has to offer, most notably Masters champion Sergio Garcia and two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson. The tournament, in an attempt to boost attendance, agreed to create a two-man team format in 2017 and the results (beyond an attendance spike) included Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith taking the title in a playoff. The tournament also features an Executive Women’s Day, Celebrity Shootout, a Pro-Am, and a performance by Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters following the tournament’s conclusion on Sunday evening. Single-Day Grounds Pass: $35; Weekly Badge: $85.

International Jazz Day
April 26
Treme Rec Center

NORD sponsors this opportunity to connect with music and community in the heart of Tremé. There will be a jazz concert in celebration of International Jazz Day in the birthplace of jazz, which will include a special performance from New Orleans Jazz singer Charmaine Neville.

NORD’s Movies in the Park
“The Princess and the Frog”; April 27, Lafitte Greenway
“Ghostbusters”; May 4, Behrman Playground
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“Ghosts in the Oaks” gives thrills and chills in City Park’s Carousel Gardens and Storyland (photos)

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The Friends of City Park sponsored the annual two-night “Ghosts in the Oaks” for the Halloween season Saturday-Sunday (Oct. 22-24) inside the Carousel Gardens and Storyland.

This family-friendly event included unlimited rides in Carousel Gardens, trick-or-treating in Storyland, arts and crafts, a pumpkin patch, airbrush tattoos, balloon animals, music and of course rides on its train. All proceeds from Ghosts in the Oaks went toward capital improvements in Carousel Gardens and Storyland.

Kids get their soccer kicks with Mini FC Sundays in front of NOMA

mini-fc-soccerAs evidence continues to mount underscoring the importance of play in the lives of children, it was a happy coincidence to learn about the Mini FC soccer action. Every Sunday at 11 a.m., kids from all cultures gather in the front lawn of the New Orleans Museum of Art to play soccer as part of the Mini FC program.

The idea came to Coach Billy as a way to become more inclusive with recreational soccer, which, in league form (believe me), can be a bit, well, structured.

But with the coach and his fellow staffers, along with some parent volunteers, soccer in front of NOMA can include zombies, dirty socks, and other crazy game-like concepts that make these elementary school-age players forget that they’re actually learning something and simply having a blast. Most of the kids are Latino or Hispanic, though all kids are welcome.

While parents are welcome to bring their own refreshments, plenty of water is available.

You can learn more about Mini FC by friending the group on Facebook. Check out the video above, in which Coach Billy explains the value of the soccer play. Both coaches, however, can only commit to coaching the group through March (there will be a slight break later this fall), as they are both medical students awaiting placement for their respective residencies. Fingers crossed that they can keep this thing going.