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Spring Fairs, Fests & Outdoor FUN on Both Shores!


That we had a very mild winter makes the coming of sping no less of a cause to celebrate, in my book! Lawns and trees (and sometimes cars) have turned a happy green again, and flowers are blooming everywhere. Time to break out the sandals, shorts, and sundresses, and head outside!
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not outdoorsy in the classic (or any) sense, and I like to keep the traipsing through the woods and paddling through swamps to an absolute minimum. Lucky for me, and those like me, our region is renowned for it’s lovely, organized outdoor events and festivals, complete with non-rugged terrain and reasonable access to bathroom facilities.
Here’s a healthy sampling of super cool events that fit that description coming up in April on both shores. Get ready to satisfy both your vitamin D requirements and culinary, cultural, and musical cravings. (Click on the events for links and more details.)

 

April 1

NOMA Egg Hunt & Family Festival 

Held annually in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, this family-friendly, fun-filled day features egg hunts, a petting zoo, spacewalks, face painting, crafts activities and more. 10am-1pm

 

April 1

Freret Street Fest (Uptown) 

Over 200 Local Vendors showcase local arts, crafts and wearables. Plus, there’s live music on 3 stages, a festival food court featuring the finest local chefs and picnic seating, a kid’s area, complimentary bike valet. “Slightly used dogs and cats will be up for adoption by Zeus’ Place, Zeus’ Rescues and other local rescue organizations — and there will be a Doggie Pit Stop with wading pools, treats, and water. Free parking in a nearby lot on the corner of Magnolia and Cadiz Streets. 11am-6pm

 

April 6, 13, 20 and 27

Rockin’ the Rails Concerts at Covington Trailhead

The City of Covington presents the Spring 2017 Rockin’ the Rails Concert Series. All ages are invited to enjoy free live music at the at the Covington Trailhead from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Concerts feature the best performing artists in New Orleans R&B, jazz, and soul, including Luther Kent and Deacon John & The Ivories.

 

 

April 6-9

French Quarter Festival 

The largest free music event in the United States, French Quarter Festival features 1,700 musicians playing 400 hours of free, local music from a variety of musical genres — from gospel to jazz, from funk to classical, from Cajun & Zydeco to brass band– on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter. The community festival also features the ‘World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,’ festival food booths operated by some of New Orleans finest restaurants. Music starts at 11am daily.

 

April 7-9

Great Louisiana BirdFest (Mandeville)

This annual event, hosted by the Northlake Nature Center, takes place as many species of birds are migrating north through Louisiana from Mexico and South America. Highlights include a social, photo workshop, and multiple trips to visit local habitats, including swamps, wetlands, pine savanna, and hardwoods of southeast Louisiana. Visit the website for the various times and events.

 

April 7-9

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival

Highlights of this family-friendly festival include vendor booths, rides and amusements, live entertainment on three stages, a state level beauty pageant, 10K road race, and parade. Musical acts include 5 Finger Discount, The Dominos, Waylon Thibodeaux, and others.

 

April 8

Spring for Art (Covington)

New work by dozens of artists from around the Southeast Region will be showcased at this festival, which also includes live music at various outdoor and indoor locations, gallery openings, art demonstrations, boutique shopping, and fine dining throughout downtown Covington. 6-9pm.

 

 

April 14-15

Bunny Fest (Metairie)

Jefferson Parish’s first public children’s event for the Easter season is taking place in Lafreniere Park. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Metairie Sunrise, the event presents a host of bunny themed festivities, games, face painting, pony rides, crafts, storytelling, great food, and more.. Child service organizations, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and CASA Jefferson Parish will also participate with information and activities. 11am-6pm.

 

April 16

The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade

The procession of mule-draw carriages and old convertibles will begin at Antoine’s Restaurant 9:45am. They typically hand out stuffed Easter bunnies and other goodies to children en route to St. Louis Cathedral for 11am Mass. Following Mass, participants will promenade to Jackson Square to show off their Easter bonnets and other finery before returning to Antoine’s, where awards are given out.

 

April 16

Chris Owens Easter Parade

Following a hat contest, slient auction, and entertainment at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel Ballroom at 11am, beginning at 1pm, riders, floats, and marching bands will make their way through the heart of the historic French Quarter, tossing lots of throws to the crowds. Following the parade, revelers can enjoy a Champagne Brunch and dancing.

 

April 21

Girod Street Stroll (Mandeville) 

Participants are invited to enjoy mint juleps, small bites, and music as they shop at dozens of participating businesses and stroll Girod Street in Mandeville as the sun goes down on Lake Pontchartrain. Old Mandeville Business Association presents the second annual Girod Street Stroll. We’ll welcome the spring season to the heart of Mandeville with mint juleps served at dozens of participating businesses. Light tasting plates with the newest creations of the season will be served by the top chefs of Old Mandeville. 5-9pm

 

April 22-23

Covington Antiques & Uniques Festival

Held at the Trailhead downtown, this festival features over 100 booths, live auction, appraisals, live demonstrations, walking tours, food, music and more. 10am-5pm

 

April 23

Abita Springs Busker Festival

This one-day festival of street musicians is sponsored by the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum, with music provided by the Abita Springs Opry in partnership with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. It also features food, art, crafts, and of course, dancing. Featured acts include The Shakemup Jazz Band, Jackson and the Janks, Tuba Skinny, among others. 1130am-7pm

 

April 24-30

Zurich Classic 

New Orleans’ premier golf tournament and the only PGA TOUR event in the region, this event boasts a rich history, with play dating back to 1938 and past winners including golf greats like Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, and Vijay Singh. Over $11 million has been raised for over 40 charities that serve thousands of children in need in the southeastern Louisiana region.

 

April 28

Zoo to Do for Kids 

Touted as New Orleans’s premier benefit event for children of all ages, Audubon Zoo is transformed into a magical play land, complete with live entertainment & musical performances, arcade games, inflatables, face painters, crafts, complimentary food and beverages, and much more. sponsor & patron party 5-9pm; early admittance 5:30-9pm; and general admittance 6:30-9pm.

 

April 28-30 & May 4-7

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 

The granddaddy of them all, Jazz Fest is an annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. Of course, this means a huge array of music and some of the biggest national and international acts, as well as hometown favorites. This year’s lineup is incredible, including Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, Harry Connick, Jr., Usher & The Roots, Alabama Shakes, and more. Plus, there’s all the fabulous food and crafts, and it all happens at the Fair Grounds.

 

 

 

MARDI GRAS FUN FOR FAMILIES: Parades, Camps & Safety Tips

Is your house decked out in purple, gold, and green? Have you pulled out your huge assortment of costumes and wigs? Is brass band music blasting in your car?
Yes, Carnival season is in full swing, y’all. Aren’t we lucky to get to share this fabulous tradition with our kids? From parade schedules to safety tips to camps, we’ve pulled together some helpful information to help you plan your family-friendly Mardi Gras festivities.

 

PARADE SCHEDULES

New Orleans, Northshore, West Bank… parades are happening everywhere! It’s time to start the difficult task of selecting which parades to attend on which days. Click here to start the selection process — get those calendars organized!

 

FAMILY GRAS (Metairie)

In case the name didn’t give it away, Family Gras is one of your best bets for guaranteed family-friendly Carnival fun. Taking place on February 17-19 in its usual spot on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Causeway in Metairie, this event boasts concerts, parades, the Fabulous Flambeau Food Court & Beverage Zones, kid-friendly activities, an arts market, and more.

 

This year’s concert lineup includes Fifth Harmony, Imagination Movers, Tony Orlando, The Cowsills and The Association, among others. Click here for more information and a full schedule of events and performances. 

 

PARADE SAFETY

Next to locating the nearest bathroom facilities and packing enough food and beverages, safety is the biggest concern of most parents parading with kids. The crowds can get pretty intense and chaotic, especially later in the day/evening, so here are a few safety tips to consider.
–Decide on a rendezvous spot, in case anyone gets separated
–Train your kid(s) find a police officer if they get lost and can’t find the rendezvous spot (many are on horseback — easy to spot!)
–Write your name and cellphone number on your kid’s arm with a bold marker
–Make sure your kids maintain a safe distance from marching bands, but especially float and tractor tires!
–Always designate an adult as ladder attendant anytime kids are in their perch

MARDI GRAS CAMPS

Most camps are closed on Mardi Gras day, but open on Lundi Gras, and Wednesday through Friday of that week. So, whether you want to reserve Lundi Gras (and the Lundi Gras Festival) as an adults-only day, or if you’re returning to work and need childcare for the days following Fat Tuesday, there are multiple camps taking place on both shores. Just click on the camp locations for links and registration information.

 

Adventure Quest Laser Tag (Harahan)
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $50 a day. Additional Siblings $35/day; $60/$45 add’l siblings after 2/26/17
Overview: Excitement, adventure and celebration for ages 3-13. Campers will enjoy laser tag, bumper cars, mini golf, and the arcade every day, plus outdoor activities and other Kidcam-certified fun.

 

Art Time (Mandeville)
March 1-3; times vary according to age
Cost: $35 – $45
Overview: Ages 4-8th grade. An array of themed workshops has been planned for various age groups. Visit their website for specifics.

 

Audubon Zoo Mardi Gras Camp (New Orleans)
March 1 – 3, 9am-3pm
Cost: $35 per member; $45 per Non-member; Before care at 7:30am $7, after care until 5pm
Overview: Campers get close-up encounters with our animal ambassadors, tour behind the scenes and spend time outdoors in free play.  Kindergarten to 4th Grade

 

Belle Chasse YMCA (West Bank)
February 27, March 1-3, 7am – 6pm. No early drop off/late pick-up available.
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $90/full camp registration Non-Members: $40/day or $150/full camp registration; Single day rates available..
Overview: The kids play indoor and outdoors, weather permitting, throughout the day. There are also arts and crafts. They are separated by age groups depending on the number of kids registered. They have a snack twice a day as well as lunch. For kids age 3-14.

 

Brushworks Academy of Art (Covington)
March 1, 2; 9am-noon, 12:30-3:30pm
Cost: First camp is $35 – 2 or more camps are $30 each
Overview: Ages 4-10. Each morning and afternoon camp will feature different Mardi Gras and Spring themed art projects in a variety of mediums. Sign up for any combination of camps. Supplies and snacks included in price. Pack a lunch if attending both morning and afternoon camps.

 

Culinary Kids Northshore (Mandeville)
March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available from 8 am – 5 pm)
Cost:$75 per day plus tax, which comes to $82.69
Overview: Ages 5 -14. Along with the meals, dessert, crafts and games, they also do crazy, messy kitchen science experiments.

 

East Jefferson YMCA (Metairie)
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am – 3:30pm
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $95/full camp registration Non-Members: $35.50/day or $140/full camp registration; Single day rates available. After care available for additional $5/day
Overview: Activities include themed stories, songs, crafts, and holiday decorations. For kids grades K-5.

 

Louisiana Children’s Museum (New Orleans)
March 1-3, 9am-3pm
Cost: Available by the day for $40 per day for members and $45 per day for non-members. Curbside drop-off is available from 8:45-9am, free of charge. Before care is available from 7:30-8:45 am for a fee of $8 per day. After care is available from 3-5:30pm for a fee of $15 per day.
Overview: Make it bubble, make it fizzle, make it turn blue. At this mad scientist-themed camp, campers will conducts safe, kid-friendly experiments done every day. Lab coats not required. Geared to children ages 5-8.

 

 

Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
February 27 and March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: $30; Before care (7-9am) $10; After care (3-6pm) $10
Overview: Ages 4-12. Campers will enjoy fun activities, participate in group games, enjoy supervised free play & much more.

 

Pelican Athletic Club (Mandeville)
February 27, March 1-3 9am-1pm for ages 18 mos-4years; 9am-3pm for ages 5-13 – camp closes at 1pm on Monday, March 1. Before and aftercare available for additional fee.  
Cost: $35/day for ages 18 mos-4 years; $48/day for ages 5-13
Overview: Activities include arts, gym, games, and indoor/outdoor play (depending on weather).

 

Pony Tales (St. Rose, just west of the airport)
February 27, March 1-3, 9am-3pm; Early drop off/late pick-up available for additional fee 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $225/week if paid in advance; Single day rates available: $55/day, 2-4 days $50/day
Overview: For ages 4-12. They offer daily riding lessons for beginners and up, all sorts of horse and pony related activities and learning about them and caring for them. Other games, some crafts and activities. Meet and care for Molly the 3 legged pony.

 

Posh Paint Pub (Metairie)
March 1-3;  9am-12pm and 1-3pm
Cost:   $65 and up
Overview: Campers will have fun doing crafts, canvas painting, clay building, pottery painting and more.  All Materials, snacks and drinks are included.  However, if you sign up for the afternoon session bring a bagged lunch for the break in between. All Materials, snacks and drinks are included.

 

St. Tammany YMCA (Covington)
February 27, March 1-3, 8am – 6pm (No early drop off/late pick-up available.)
Cost: YMCA Members: $35/day; Non-Members $45/day plus a one-time non-member registration fee that is good for the entire ’16-’17 holiday camp school year: $30/one child or $40/family. Single day rates available.
Overview: Kids ages 3-13 can enjoy indoor and outdoor play, weather permitting, throughout the day, as well as arts and crafts. Campers must bring two snacks (morning and afternoon), a bag lunch, and a water bottle for each kid.

 

Upturn Arts (New Orleans)
March 2-3, 9am-4pm
Cost:$65/day, or $125 for both days.
Overview: Ages 5 – 12. Campers will repurpose parade throws into one-of-a-kind creations and choreograph original dances. Barman’s Fun will craft healthy drinks and share techniques for juicing, muddling, and artistic garnishes.

 

Vamonos NOLA! (New Orleans)
February 24, 27, March 1-3; 8am – 3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: Contact for rates
Overview: For ages 3 – 10, this is one of the only places offering camp on the Friday before Mardi Gras, Vamonos NOLA! offers days packed with art, games, music, carnival crafts, theater, soccer, exploring Audubon Park, and a Vamanos parade.

 

Xfusion (Covington)
February 27, March 1-3; 7am-4pm (aftercare available)
Cost: Daily $35, 3 days $99, 5 days $135; After care from 4-6pm $10/day.
Overview: Ages 4 & up. Activities include obstacle course, zipline, group skill building, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, and more.

 

BANISH THE WINTER BLAHS: Where to Stay Active Indoors on Both Shores

Here we go, folks. We’re heading into that dead zone between the holidays and Mardi Gras. It’s a pretty short interval, but it can feel like a lifetime after all the hustle and bustle of December. Plus, the post-holiday blues may be setting in, and the weather is probably going to fluctuate between super chilly and clammy, as it often does this time of year. Yuck!
The least we can do to help out is to provide this handy list of indoor activities in New Orleans and on the Northshore where the kids burn off energy. Many give you the option of joining in, or kicking back and relaxing while they go to town — your call!

BOWLING

Colonial Lanes (New Orleans)
6601 Jefferson Highway
(504) 517-9908; www.colonialbowlnola.com

 

AMF All Star Lanes (Kenner)
3640 Williams Blvd.
(504) 443-5353; www.amf.com/location/amf-all-star-lanes-la

 

Tiffany Lanes (Mandeville)
4400 Highway 22
(985) 626-4441; www.facebook.com/TiffanyLanesMandeville

 

Bowling USA (Slidell)
685 Brownswitch Road
(985) 649-4811; www.facebook.com/BowlUSASlidell

 

CLIMBING

New Orleans Boulder Lounge (New Orleans)
1746 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 510-2990; climbnobl.com

 

Slidell Rocks Climbing Gym (Slidell)
39543 Hwy. 190 E.
(985) 646-1411; www.slidellrocks.com

FAMILY FITNESS & FUN CENTERS

Adventure Quest Laser Tag (Harahan)
1200 South Clearview Parkway
(504) 207-4444; www.lasertagnola.com

 

Ochsner Kidsports Elmwood (Harahan)
1200 S Clearview Pkwy
(504) 733-1600; www.ochsnerfitness.com

 

X Fusion Fitness Center (Covington)
1455 N Collins Blvd
(985) 705-2910; www.xfusionfitnesscenter.com

 

Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
23052 LA-1088
(985) 727-7277; www.mandevillesportscomplex.com

 

Safari Quest Family Fun Center (Hammond)
200 Hewitt Road
(985) 340-5858; www.lasertaghammond.com

 

INDOOR SPORTS/PLAYGROUNDS

Alpha Baseball (Mandeville)
68598 Ambrosia Street
(231) 730-4579; Alpha-baseball.com

 

Big Easy Sportsplex (Jefferson)
800 Webb Street
(504) 733-0046; www.bigeasysportsplex.com

 

The Monkey Room (New Orleans)
1501 Religious Street
(504) 301-2695; monkeyroom.net

 

Bookoo Bounce (Elmwood)
5604 Blessey Street
(504) 835-6424; www.bookoobounce.com

 

The Little Gym (Covington)
51 Park Pacel Drive
(985) 871-8989; www.thelittlegym.com/thenorthshoreLA

 

Palm Tree Playground (Metairie)
3011 N Interstate 10 Service Rd E
(504) 828-8164; palmtreeplayground.com

JUMPING (INFLATABLES/TRAMPOLINES)

Sector 6 Indoor Trampoline Park (New Orleans)
612 Distributors Row
(504) 539-4224; www.sector6.us

 

Kids Arena Inflatables (Mandeville)
813 Florida Street
(985) 626-1414; www.thekidsarena.com

 

Elevation Station Indoor Trampoline Park (Covington)
250 Northpointe Court
(985) 791-9838; www.elevationstation.com

SKATING

Airline Skate Center (Metairie)
6711 Airline Dr, Metairie
(504) 733-2248; www.airlineskatecenternola.com

 

Skater’s Paradise (Slidell)
1421 Gause Blvd. West
(985) 643-0839; skateslidell.com

 

SPECIAL CATEGORY: ESCAPE ROOMS

Okay, this category is coloring outside the lines a bit, as it’s not exactly exercise, but it’s COOL! These facilities offer up themed, interactive mysteries or puzzles for groups to solve as a team in order to escape the room in which they’re “locked.” (You’re not actually locked in, by the way.)  All offer kid-friendly options, but require parent supervision. Different, right?

 

Clue Carre (New Orleans)
830 Union Street
(504) 667-2583; cluecarre.com

 

Mystere Mansion Escape Rooms (New Orleans)
4800 Canal Street
(504) 483-2350; partyvenuesneworleans.com

 

Escape Room (Covington)
13433 Seymour Myers Blvd
(985) 373-5520; www.theescapecovington.com

HOLIDAY HOOPLA: 80(+) FESTIVE EVENTS ON BOTH SHORES & BEYOND!

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It should come as no surprise that we are absolutely swamped with holiday fun in this region! From New Orleans to the Northshore to many points between and adjacent, we have mined for as many festive events as we could possibly pack into one big, fat post, and wound up topping EIGHTY, so far! We begin with a listing of mall Santas, then divide the rest of the happenings into two categories: ongoing/multi-day events and single day events — all of which are in chronological order and contain links to individual websites of origin. Browse through and start jam-packing those holiday calendars!

 

MALL SANTAS

 

Santa and the North Pole Express at Lakeside  (New Orleans)

Now through December 24
Santa and the train are located at Center Court throughout the holiday season. North Pole Express train rides: $1.50 a ride or 10 tickets for $10, Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sundays 12pm-6pm. Santa Photos: Monday – Thursday, 10am-7pm. Go here for details. 

Santa at Clearview Mall  (New Orleans)

Now through December 24
Santa will be available for pictures wiith multiple package options, as well as special gift offers. Also, on December 10  from 10:30-11:30am, kids can meet a live reindeer in the Clearview Room and earn their antlers. Limited tickets available. Go here for details. 

Santa at North Square Mall (Slidell)

Now through December 24
In addition to hosting Santa for photo ops with the kids, North Square also presents a Sights & Sounds of the Holidays program. Visit their website for dates and times.

Santa at Oakwood Mall (Gretna)

Now through December 24
The Oakwood Mall in Gretna is hosting visits and photo ops with Jolly Old St. Nick. Special pet photos with Santa are also available on select dates. Go here for more info or to reserve at time. 

Caring Santa at Esplanade Mall (New Orleans)

December 4 from 9-11am
This subdued and welcoming environment exclusively for children with special needs and their families features lights and sounds that will be kept to a minimum. Sponsored by the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. Click here for details.

 

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ONGOING & MULTI-DAY EVENTS

 

Christmas in the Country (Covington)

Now – December 24
Merchants and shops throughout downtown Covington are participating in this old world shopping experience. Highlights include special shopping events, strolling musicians, carolers, beautiful decorations, refreshments, and door prizes. Most shops are open 9am-5pm, Monday – Saturday, some Sundays. Restaurant hours vary. Get details here. 

Kenner Christmas Village (New Orleans)

Now through December 28 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm
The Kenner Christmas Village will light up the Rivertown historic district. Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays feature various festivities, including caroling, costumed holiday characters, and appearances by Santa, along with craft and food vendors and entertainment by local school and dance troops. The Planetarium will be open Fridays, December 2, 9, & 16 displaying holiday laser shows at 7pm. Details here. 

St. Louis Cathedral Concerts (New Orleans)

December 1-18 from 6-7pm
The historic St. Louis Cathedral and Basilica plays host to an annual holiday tradition of staging free concerts throughout the month of December by prominent New Orleans musicians, church choirs and singers in the jazz, classical, gospel and pop genres. Concerts generally run for an hour and are open to the public. Donations are welcome to help fund the cost of the series. For dates, times, and other information about the St. Louis Cathedral Holiday Concerts call 504-522-5730 or visit the website. 

New Orleans Reveillon Dinners  (New Orleans)

December 1-31
A Creole tradition from the mid-1800s, dozens of New Orleans’ finest restaurants serve up decadent four-course holiday feasts with all the trimmings for the month of December. For details and menus, click here. 

Donuts with Santa at Palmtree Playground (New Orleans)

December 1 & 3 at 9am & 11am
Children’s Hospital, Touro, The Parenting Center, and Bakers Dozen donuts partnered with New Orleans Moms Blog for this event, which provides kids with fun festivities, including a personalized visit with Santa, donuts, sweet treats and more. Adults can enjoy food and beverage, the “build your own” swag bag bar and a chance to win some fabulous giveaways. Click here for details. 

Celebration in the Oaks (New Orleans)

December 2 – January 1 on Sunday – Thursday : 6pm -10pm; Friday & Saturday: 6pm -11pm
This annual celebration is fun for all ages and has become a beloved holiday tradition. Highlights include dazzling light displays, walkways lined with dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school groups, a festive two-mile train ride, the animated Cajun Night Before Christmas display, and of course, New Orleans’ iconic snowman Mr. Bingle. Celebration in the Oaks. Closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Click here for more information. 

Christmas Under the Stars (Slidell)

December 2-3, 9-10 from 6-9pm
This holiday celebration at Griffith Park in Olde Towne Slidell features thousands of twinkling lights, festive decorations, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Parade of Trees, and a life-sized Christmas Village. Admission is free. Go here for details. 

Steel Poinsettias at Rivertown Theaters (New Orleans)

December 2-18
This adults-only magnolia-scented Christmas show features Mrs. Sandy Claus doing hair and talking trash with Wheezy Grincheaux, Herbelle The Elf, Mrs. Scratchit, and Cherie Snowman.  It stars the creators of Ditzyland, Ricky Graham, Varla Jean Merman, Sean Patterson and Jefferson Turner. For tickets and showtimes, click here. 

A Vintage Christmas at the World War II Museum (New Orleans)

December 2-26 (weekends and select weekdays)
The Stage Door Canteen is the site of these festive events where the Victory Belles will present holiday music favorites like Do You Hear What I Hear, The Christmas Song, and Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Joined by Tom Hook as Burl Ives, this all-new production is sure to create a nostalgic, old fashioned experience. Go here for tickets, dates, and showtimes. 

Lafreniere Christmas in the Park (New Orleans)

December 2-30
The annual exhibit features LED lights with fantastic displays such as a lighted 60-foot Sea Serpent in the lagoon, a princess and her magical castle & the gingerbread man.  Plus, there’s a new Pokemon Go section and old favorites including holiday characters, the beloved Lombardi Trophy between two Saints Players, the Teddy Bear Factory, and Snowman Island. The children’s carousel will be open nightly, and there’s free Admission on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours are Sunday-Thursday: dusk til 9:45pm and Friday-Saturday: dusk til 11:45pm. Visit the website for more info. 

Holiday Movies on the Mississippi (New Orleans)

December 2, 9 & 16 at 6:30pm
The Downtown Development District and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk present three Fridays of free outdoor movie showings at Spanish Plaza. December 2: Home Alone; December 9: Frozen; December 16: Elf. Go here for more information. 

Christmas Extravaganza Arts and Crafts Expo (Covington)

December 2-4 from 10am to 5pm
This three-day show, held at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds, features more than 500 artists and craftspersons, plus 20 food booths. Details here. 

Holiday Lights at Liuzza Farm (Amite)

December 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17 from 6-9 pm
For $10 per car, people can drive through Liuzza Farm and enjoy the festive holiday light displays. There are also drive-thru opportunities to purchase hot chocolate, t-shirts, gifts, and farmers market items. More info here. 

Holiday of Lights (Mandeville)

December 2 & 3, 9 & 10 from 6-8:30 pm
This annual event on Koop Drive in Mandeville, behind the Tammany Trace Kids Konnection Playground, features live entertainment from local schools and area performance groups, trees donated by Winn Dixie and decorated by schools and other organizations, Santa Claus, and kiddie rides. Plus, pictures with Santa and refreshments will be available for purchase. New this year, Rudy the live Reindeer from Zoo to U will make a special guest appearance on Saturday, December 3rd at 7:30pm. Click here for more info. 

World War II Museum Teddy Bear Tea (New Orleans)

December 3, 10, 17 at 10am
The National World War II Museum hosts this traditional holiday tea, featuring food and sweet treats, lively performance by the Victory Belles, a special visit from Santa, and a teddy bear souvenir. Go here for tickets and details. 

Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt (New Orleans)

December 3-4, 10-11, 17-24
Guests at the Roosevelt Hotel’s annual Teddy Bear Tea will be taken on Santa’s journey to the rooftops of New Orleans. Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome everyone while they enjoy a presentation of delicious holiday food, specialty teas, and tasty pastries, as well as sparkling wine and mimosas for adults. For reservations and details on various packages and seating times, go here. 

Papa Noel Tea (New Orleans)

December 3-4, 19-24 at 11am & 2:30pm
This annual event allows children to enjoy cookie decorating, viewing The Ritz-Carlton’s one of a kind gingerbread display, an appearance by Papa Noel, and other holiday surprises in The Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge. Click here for details and reservations. 

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Prytania Holiday Movie: Meet Me in St. Louis  (New Orleans)

December 4 & 7 at 10am
The Prytania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info. 

Brunch with Santa at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel (New Orleans)

December 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18  at 10am & 1:30pm
This annual celebration features a variety of specialty and traditional food stations, free-flowing mimosa and poinsettia cocktails for adults, special appearances by historic New Orleans characters, live musical entertainment by Nina Bubrig, and photos with Santa. Contact Mrs. Claus at judy.leblanc@bourbonorleans.com or 504-571-4672 for reservations. Click here for more details. 

Festival of the Bonfires (Lutcher)

December 9-11
Visitors are invited to enjoy great food, live entertainment, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides throughout the weekend. Plus, each night will be highlighted with a single bonfire lighting. Click here for schedule of events and other details.

LPO Holiday Spectacular (New Orleans)

December 9-11
The Orpheum Theater gets lit for the holidays with special help from the LPO and community guest artists. Travel the world to experience the holidays as seen through the eyes of different cultures. Get tickets and details here. 

Deanie’s Holiday Kids Show (New Orleans)

December 10 & 11, 17 & 18 at 9am
Deanie’s Seafood invites kids and families to enjoy this Christmas celebration featuring New Orlean’s entertainer Vince Vance, delicious treats, traditional Christmas caroling, pictures with Santa, a full buffet breakfast and more. Click here for details. 

Build Your Own Gingerbread House (New Orleans)

December 10, 11, 18-23 at 12pm & 3pm
Children of all ages are invited to build a festive gingerbread house at The Ritz-Carlton. Price includes one gingerbread house with all of the decorating essentials and holiday refreshments. Each house can accommodate up to four guests. Adult supervision and reservations are required. Click here for details and reservations. 

Teddy Bear Tea at the Royal Sonesta (New Orleans)

December 11, 17-18 11am & 2:30pm; December 10, 21-23 at 11am
Little Princess & Princesses are crowned as they enter into the hotel’s Magical Royal Kingdom, and highlights include a storytimes and fun with Mrs. Claus, Santa, Rudolph, the Sugarplum Fairy, Marching Toy Soldiers and members of the New Orleans Saintsations. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase after each seating. Each child is invited to “share the magic” of the season by donating a small, unwrapped gift for the Children’s Hospital Toy Drop. Go here for reservations and details. 

Prytania Holiday Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life  (New Orleans)

December 11 & 14 at 10am
The Prtyania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info. 

Santa’s Magic Workshop (New Orleans)

December 12-23 (Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays) at 2pm & 7pm
This magic workshop and tea party for all ages will feature dress-up fun, specially themed crafting, story-time, snacks, tea-time, a manners game, and more. Visit their website for details and reservations. 

Mrs. Claus’ Holiday Tea Party (New Orleans)

December 16 & 23 at 12pm & 4:30pm
La Petite Tea Room is hosting its annual holiday event, complete with dress-up, specially themed crafting, story-time, snacks, tea-time, a manners game, and more. Visit their website for details and reservations. 

NOLA ChristmasFest  (New Orleans)

December 16-30
This popular event takes place at the Convention Center, where the facade facing Julia Street will be decorated in lights synchronized to Christmas music. Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and all their friends will be onsite for photos, autographs and professional photo booth opportunities. Activities include an indoor ice skating rink, the Kringle Carousel, funhouse maze, carnival rides and inflatables. Hours are 10am-8pm daily. Christmas Eve hours are 10am-5pm and hours for Christmas Day are 2pm-8pm. Visit the website for more info. 

Cajun Holiday Tea with Papa Noel (New Orleans)

December 17 & 18 at 10:30am & 2pm
The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen hosts this annual family event with Papa Noel, Mrs. Noel, Gaston the Gator and other jolly Cajun characters. Highlights include a classic holiday tea with tempting treats, storytelling, face painting, magic tricks, children’s activities and merriment while cruising the mighty Mississippi. Kids gets a special presents and can also hold a real live alligator. Go here for tickets and information. 

Prytania Kid Holiday Movie Series (New Orleans)

December 19, 20 & 24 at 10am
The Prytania Theater in Uptown presents showings of holiday classics Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Also included are special treats, arts & crafts, and snow! Fun begins at 9am, movies being at 10am. For details, click here. 

NOMA Holiday Workshops  (New Orleans)

December 22 & 29 from 9:30am –12:30 pm
New Orleans Museum of Art offers 3 single-day Studio KIDS! Holiday Workshops to engage young artists in the creative process. Students will explore works of art in the museum galleries and get creative in the studio. Go here for details and registration.

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SINGLE DAY EVENTS

 

Yuletide Celebration: Jefferson

December 1 at 7:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here. 

Yuletide Celebration: Hammond

December 2 at 7:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Hammond’s Columbia Theater, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here. 

Hammond Christmas Parade

December 2 at 6pm
The Rotary Club of Hammond’s parade carries the theme “A Starry Christmas” this year, thanks to the Ciolino family of Star Equipment, a big supporter of the parade for 47 years. The parade, loaded with floats, high school marching bands, and of course, Santa, will take the same route as last year, beginning and ending on Tornado Drive. The Kid’s Zone will be staged at Southeastern Lab School on General Pershing Drive. Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces will lead the parade with Christmas music. For more info, click here. 

Ponchatoula Christmas Lighting

December 2 from 6-9pm
This annual downtown Ponchatoula event promises lots of food, fun and hot chocolate. Plus, the mayor will be flipping the switch to light up the town, and Santa will be on the steps of Collinswood Museum with candy canes for the kids. Click here for details. 

Michaels Kids Club Class: Stocking (Both Shores)

December 3 from 10am – noon
They craft; you shop. Kids 3 and up can enjoy a Sprout character felt stocking project. Sign up in-store, online or just drop in. $2 per project, supplies included. Parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event. Visit the website for details. 

Lowe’s Build & Grow Holiday Workshop (Both Shores)

December 2 at 10am
Kids who register for these workshops  build a wooden project and get a free apron, goggles, and patch. This week, they will make Christmas ornaments. Go here for info and to register. 

Algiers Bonfire

December 3 at 8:30pm
This annual event in Algiers Point features the lighting of a massive levee bonfire, food vendors, live music from Bag of Donuts, and a second line with the Landry-Walker High School Marching Band. Click here for details and a schedule of events. 

Holiday Tea at Longue Vue (New Orleans)

December 3 from 1-3pm
This special winter holiday tea features tasty tea sandwiches, a complimentary gift and discounts in The Shop at Longue Vue just in time for gift giving! Tour New Orleans’ most beautiful home decked in festive decor. Advance registration required. Click here for details and reservations, or call 504-293-4701. 

Northshore Donuts With Santa (Mandeville)

December 3 from 9-11am
The Lakehouse Restaurant in Mandeville is hosting this popular event, which will feature breakfast and treats from Bakers Dozen, Whimsical Cake Designs and Cookies, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Panera Bread, and Orleans Coffee. Also included in the admission price is a picture with Santa, as well as create-your-own swag bags for children 6 months and older. For details, go here. 

Merry Madisonville

December 3 from 4-8pm
A grand parade kicks off this annual event, starting at the Maritime Museum and ending on the Riverfront in front of Town Hall. It is led by the mayor who is followed by the court of the Krewe of Tchefuncte, bands, dancers, classic cars, and more. Plus, there will be a Champagne toast to celebrate Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival by boat, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree, caroling, and Santa’s Workshop. Go here for more info. 

Itsy Bitsy Me Santa (New Orleans)

December 3 from 10am – Noon
If the mall Santa lines a little daunting, itsybitsyme in Metairie will have their very own Santa and photographer this Saturday. Visit their Facebook page for details. 

 

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Deck the Rails (Covington)

December 3 from 10am-Noon
This free kid-friendly holiday event includes the Covington Trailhead lighting, pictures with Santa, and entertainment. Click here for details.  

Krewe of Jingle Parade (New Orleans)

December 3 at 1pm
New Orleans’ official holiday parade, the “Krewe of Jingle,” features authentic parade floats, marching bands, stilt walkers, Christmas characters, and many more magical surprises. Click here for details and parade route. 

Christmas Bonfire Party at Oak Alley Plantation (Vacherie)

December 3 from 7pm-Midnight
Everyone is invited to celebrate the Christmas season in a beautiful setting. Highlights include hor d’oeuvres, a Creole buffet, petite sweets, premium bar service, a bonfire on the levee, live entertainment under the oaks, and end the evening with hot chocolate, coffee, and beignets. Proceeds from this event go the preservation efforts of this historic landmark. Learn more here. 

Children’s Christmas Party (New Orleans)

December 3 from 11am – 4pm
Pauline Books & Media  in Metairie hosts this annual event that celebrates the real reason for the season. Highlights include the Nativity story, costumes, carols, and a birthday cake for baby Jesus. Click here for more info. 

Festival of Trees at LCM (New Orleans)

December 3
The Louisiana Children’s Museum celebrates the season with their annual  whimsical display of trees decorated by local schools, artists and community partners. The day will begin with a Patron Brunch from 10am-noon, followed by Family Fun Day general admission from noon-4:30pm, featuring a special day of holiday performances, activities, crafts and more. Visit the museum’s website for details. 

Breakfast with Santa at The Esplanade (New Orleans)

December 3 from 8:30-10:30am
This family event at The Esplanade Mall in Kenner allows children 10 and under to interact with Santa, and also features a light breakfast from Zea’s, Drama Kids performance and interaction, and a special surprise by the Great American Cookie Company. Click here for tickets and info.

Home Alone: Movie with Orchestra (New Orleans)

December 3 at 7:30pm
This holiday season, experience Home Alone like never before with John Williams’ Academy  Award®-winning score performed live by the LPO to the film, projected on a massive HD screen at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. For tickets and info, go here. 

The Nutcracker Tea (Hammond)

December 4 from 2-4pm
Everyone is invited to Michabelle Inn and Restaurant for this Hammond Ballet holiday family tradition with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court from The Nutcracker. Guests will sample delicacies and sweet treats, and children’s activities include cookie decorating, performances from the ballet with costumed Hammond Ballet dancers, and more. Click here for tickets and info.

Paint with Santa (New Orleans)

December 4 from 11am -5pm
At this special holiday event, participants will paint 2 ornaments, take a photograph with Santa and enjoy snacks and drink. An upgrade to a Cookies for Santa plate is available as well. Go here for details.  

Yuletide Celebration: Slidell

December 4 at 2:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Slidell Municipal Auditorium, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here. 

ELF University, The Musical (Covington)

December 4 at 4pm
The Fuhfrmann Auditorium is playing host to an original musical comedy that captures the holiday spirit. ELF University, the Musical takes a fun-filled look at Santa’s elves during the busy holiday season. The Crescent City Sound Chorus will be joined by local quartets, small a cappella groups, and the Chalmette High School Jazz Band. Click here for tickets and info. 

Christmas on the Northshore Concert (Mandeville)

December 4 at 3pm & 7pm
St. Timothy United Methodist Church’s annual concert features their award-winning choir, the Northshore Orchestra, the St. Timothy Youth Chorale, and several guest soloists. Concertgoers will be treated to a variety of well-loved Christmas favorites, as well as an audience sing-along. Each performance will last one hour and fifteen minutes.Though it’s a free event, it’s recommended that people obtain tickets in advance. For tickets and info, go here. 

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Christmas Bonfire On The Levee (White Castle)

December 9 from 5-9pm
Everyone is invited to watch the lighting of the bonfires along the levee, enjoy music from local bands/choirs, dine under the oaks, and watch a fireworks display that will welcome the guest of honor, Santa. Click here for more info.

Michaels Kids Club Class: Clay Pot Elf (Both Shores)

December 10 from 10am – noon
They craft; you shop! Kids 3 and up can enjoy a Clay Pot Elf project. Sign up in-store or just drop in. $2 per project, supplies included. Parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event. Visit the website for details. 

Toys for Tots at Elmwood Self Storage and Wine Cellar (New Orleans)

December 10 at 10am
If you or someone you know could use a little extra help from Santa this year, Elmwood Self Storage is heading up this Toys for Tots Distribution Day in Harahan. Santa will be on hand for pictures, as well. Go here for registration and details. 

Jingle Bugs at the Insectarium (New Orleans)

December 10
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium celebrates the holidays with activities and treats for the entire family. Go here for details. 

Family Play in Clay: Santa Ornament (New Orleans)

December 10 from 4 – 6pm
Posh Paint Pub is hosting a Family Play in Clay Session where participants will press their hands in clay to make a Santa Head Ornament. Go here for details.  

Marine Corps Band Holiday Concert (New Orleans)

December 10 at 7:30pm
For the second year in a row, The Marine Corps Reserve will partner with Chevron and the Saenger Theatre to present the Marine Corps Band New Orleans’ holiday concert production of “Santa Meets Sousa” at the Saenger Theatre. An event for all ages, the performance is open to the public, however, the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots is appreciated. While admission is free, all seating is reserved and requires an event ticket, which are given out on a first come first serve basis. Click here for details.

Reindeer Run & Romp (New Orleans)

December 10 at 9am
The Downtown Development District and Entergy present this one mile fun run & 1/2 mile Eggnog Jog on Canal Street. Rudolph, Santa and friends will jingle their bells to signal the start of the race, which begins and ends at Riverwalk Spanish Plaza. Participants will receive antlers, a race t-shirt and a bag of holiday goodies. After the race, there will be healthy activities like yoga for kids & parents, pictures with Santa, music, games, crafts and more. Registration begins at 8am; race starts at 9am. Go here for details and to register. 

Holiday Kids in the Kitchen: Cider and Hot Chocolate  (New Orleans)

December 10 from 10:30-11:30am
Kids ages 7-11 are invited to the National Food & Beverage Museum kitchen to learn how to make tasty holiday drinks to share with friends and family. Go here for details. 

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation Lights at the Lake (New Orleans)

December 10 from 4:30 – 8pm
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation will hold its annual Lights at the Lake holiday celebration at the New Canal Lighthouse. Visitors can partake in raffle drawings all evening long, hear school choirs, take pictures with Santa, enjoy refreshments from local eateries, and watch the boat parade.  Click here for more info. 

Holiday Kids in the Kitchen: Cookie Stations  (New Orleans)

December 11 from 10:30am-12:30pm
Kids ages 7-15 are invited to the National Food & Beverage Museum kitchen to take part in multiple cookie mixing, baking, and decorating stations. They’ll include basic sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies, as well as holiday extras like chocolate eggnog and thumbprints cookies.Go here for details. 

Santa Sunday at Nonna Randazzo’s (Covington)

December 11 from 10am-1pm
The Covington bakery is hosting this event, which features photos with Santa Claus, cookie decorating assisted by Santa’s helpers, and face painting. Treats include coffee, hot cocoa, and donuts, plus holiday catering and dessert samples. Click here for details.

Prytania Holiday Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (New Orleans)

December 11 & 14 at 10am
The Prtyania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info. 

Jungle Bells Holiday Party (New Orleans)

December 11 from 1-4pm
Audubon Zoo hosts this fun event, which includes holiday refreshments, unlimited carousel and train rides, a space walk, a holiday photo ornament, and a small stuffed animal. Click here for details. 

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Children’s Latkes with a Twist Party  (New Orleans)

December 15 from 7-11pm
This 3rd Annual community-wide celebration of the Festival of Lights features great music, drink specials, silent auction and a complimentary latke bar. Proceeds from the event will support the JCRS camp, college and special needs scholarships and outreach programs. Details here. 

Chanukah Sing-a-Long  (New Orleans)

December 16 from 11am-noon
The Jewish Community Center Nursery School is performing all their favorite Chanukah songs. Click here for more info. 

Chanukah Gala  (New Orleans)

December 17 from 6:30-9:30pm
Ring in the Festival of Lights with JNOLA! This year’s Chanukah event is JNOLA’s big signature event for the year and celebrates the NextGen Jewish community in New Orleans. Eat, drink, and dance the night away with your friends as we rejoice in a successful year with JNOLA. For details, click here.

Chanukah Family Concert (New Orleans)

December 18 from 2-4pm
Six13, an award-winning Jewish a cappella group from New York will headline this annual Community Chanukah Celebration.  In addition to the concert, there will be dinner and a community candle lighting to celebrate Chanukah. Click here for more info. 

Jackson Square Caroling (New Orleans)

December 18 at 7pm
For this annual event, Jackson Square is illuminated by hundreds of candles held by both amateur and pro singers while crooning Christmas favorites. Candles and song sheets are provided. Gates to Jackson Square open at 6:30 p.m. and the caroling begins at 7:00. Those who plan to attend and participate are strongly advised to arrive early. For more information call 888-756-6250 or visit the Patio Planters website.

Christmas Eve Bonfires (St. James Parish)

December 24 at dusk
These bonfires, erected on the river levees by the keepers of this old tradition, are intended to light the way for “Papa Noël,” the Cajun Santa Claus, on his airborne journey to the area. Or, according to some sources, the bonfires may have also been a way of lighting the path to the nearest Catholic church for Midnight Mass. More information here. 

Steamboat Natchez Christmas Eve Celebration (New Orleans)

December 24 from 6:30-9:30pm
This festive Christmas Eve event on the river features a  big holiday dinner buffet, a call brand open bar, and live music. Boarding will begin at 6:30pm, cruising from 7:30pm until 9:30pm. Reservations are required and holiday attire recommended. Click here to make reservations. 

Chabad-Chanukah at the Riverwalk (New Orleans)

December 27 from 5 – 7pm
Hundreds of community members will gather for this celebration of Jewish pride on the Mississippi River and the lighting of Louisiana’s largest Menorah. There will aslo be food, music and much more. Click here for more info. 

Creole Queen New Year’s Eve Cruise (New Orleans)

December 31 at 11pm
The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen will allow revelers to ring in the New Year with a front row seat to the fireworks extravaganza over the Mississippi River. Highlights include a variety of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, call-brand drinks at the open bar, a DJ, and of course, a New Year’s toast with Champagne and festive party favors. For details and reservations, go here. 

LCM Countdown to Noon (New Orleans)

December 31 from 9:30am – 3pm
All are invited to ring in the New Year with the whole family at Louisiana Children’s Museum’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, which culminates with a colorful confetti toss and balloon release. Guests can make their own noisemaker and a festive paper bag hat, enjoy the sounds of Blu Kru Brass Band, and ring in 2017 family-style. Special event ticketing applies. Pre-registration is strong recommended. For details and tickets, click here. 

Zoo Year’s Eve (New Orleans)

December 31 from 10:30am to 1:30pm
Audubon Zoo invites families and kids of all ages to celebrate the new year in style with music, games and prizes. Pick up a party hat and noise maker, grab a Pepsi drink for toasting, and countdown to Noon to ring in the New Year. (All items are while supplies last.) This event is free for Audubon members or included with Zoo admission. Go here for details. 

New Year’s Eve, Frank Sinatra Style (New Orleans)

December 31 from 9pm – 1am
Revelers are invited to swing in 2017 with dinner, dancing, the music of Frank Sinatra—featuring vocalists extraordinaire Spencer Rocca and Dody Piper—and the fabulous Victory Swing Orchestra at the World War II Museum. Other highlights include a welcome Bellini cocktail, a delicious four-course Italian dinner, big-band music and dancing, beer and wine, bubbly at midnight, and a chocolate buffet after ringing in the New Year.  Go here for tickets and details. 

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GRATEFUL GIVING: CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES ON BOTH SHORES

 

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As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, and we look forward to feasting and celebrating with loved ones, many of us feel compelled to take inventory of all the blessings we often take for granted, and share this spirit of gratitude with our children. Helping them to realize how lucky we are to have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and healthy bodies gives them the kind of perspective that sets the stage for sharing with those less fortunate.
There are plenty of local organizations on both shores that are in desperate need of your compassion and generosity to continue helping those in need. Please consider donating your time or resources, as a family, to celebrate to the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

FLOOD VICTIMS

United Way of Southeast Louisiana

In addition to their ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty in our region, United Way of Southeast Louisiana recognizes that recovery from the recent flooding requires a complex approach. They initially set up a Flood Relief and Recovery Fund to address immediate needs, but they have shifted to long-term recovery efforts to fill unmet needs, provide grants to community partners and other nonprofit organizations to assist with recovery, and support other response and recovery efforts.
Due to overwhelming generosity, their Southshore and Northshore drop off locations are now closed, but they still need funds to meet the changing needs of flood victims. Visit their website for information on how to contribute.

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BOTH SHORES

Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest is launching their Holiday Meal Drive from November 1 – December 31. The goal is to collect 110,000 pounds of food and $50,000 to help ensure families across South Louisiana get the food they need during the holidays and throughout the year. For every dollar collected, Second Harvest can provide three meals. People can donate holiday meal items and/or funds to help ensure everyone has a place at the table. Itt also has links and tips to help people have an even greater impact by starting a team and holding an online fundraiser, or holding a food drive at their office, school, or other location. They’re looking for dry, non-perishable food items. For more information on starting a food drive or a list of suggested donation items, click here. For general information about Second Harvest, visit their website.    

YMCA

The Y’s Home for the Holidays program delivers meals to elderly and homebound people on Thanksgiving Day, supplementing the Meals on Wheels program sponsored by the Council on Aging. Starting at 5am Thanksgiving morning, volunteers begin cooking and preparing over 1,500 meals.  Members of the YMCA and their families bake homemade desserts to include in each meal and local school children create handmade cards for each senior. Once the meals are packaged, over 200 volunteers deliver them to homebound seniors in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Tammany parishes. For information on how to donate and/or volunteer, visit their website.

NEW ORLEANS

Hotel Hope

Hotel Hope is working to renovate the former convent at Blessed Trinity Parish (formerly St. Mathias), located at 4222 S. Broad Street. Their mission will be to keep homeless families together and move them from homelessness to self-sufficiency through a three stage service model that involves providing crisis intervention services, residential stability, and help in achieving economic self-sufficiency. Go here to find out how to help make this happen. 

Boys Hope Girls Hope

Boys Hope Girls Hope is a nonprofit agency that helps children-in-need realize their full potential through education. It is the goal of this organization to help children and young people in their care to complete a college education, then put their education to work for the benefit of others, including their families and communities. This 100% privately funded organization’s annual fundraising events are critical to maintaining the housing and care that their scholars depend on for future success. New Orleans fundraisers include an annual gala, golf tournament, tennis tournament, and Crescent City Classic 10k run. They also welcome cash donations via their website. 

Bridge House / Grace House

This organization provides long-term residential, gender-specific treatment to help individuals who are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol lead sober and productive lives. They host three annual dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas in July.  These three events provide a traditional holiday meal, toiletries, clothing, and fellowship to the homeless and indigent population of the Greater New Orleans Area. Plus, they help to raise awareness within the homeless and indigent population of services provided by Bridge House / Grace House. The volunteer slots are full for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can donate cash or the aforementioned items. Contact Stephanie Clary at sclary@bridgehouse.org or 504-821-7134 to learn more about the items needed to make this event a success. Click here for all the ways to contribute to this organization. 

Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Dept Thanksgiving Celebration

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office hosts its annual Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration every Thanksgiving Day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event is for people from Orleans and the surrounding parishes to enjoy a great meal and entertainment.  Volunteers will receive 4 hours of community service for their efforts, and they are asked to arrive at 9am. Be sure to visit the website as dates and details become available. 

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New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter

The largest shelter for homeless women and children in the metro area, New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter has served more than 750 women and children since 2007. A large majority of the children at the shelter are under the age of ten, and 80% of the families helped since 2007 have transitioned to sustainable, independent living. Volunteers can get involved with shift coverage, answering the door and receiving calls, donation organization, fundraising, office management, resident programing, and much more. Some NOWS volunteers have even launched programs about in-house garden management, art workshops, yoga lessons, and other areas of interest, so your hobby or profession could be exactly what their residents need. Go here for was to donate and volunteer. 

Children’s Hospital of New Orleans

Children’s Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit pediatric medical center offering a complete range of healthcare services for children from birth to 21 years. With over 40 pediatric specialties and more than 400 physicians, it is the only full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. The hospital is happy to receive in-kind or non-monetary donations throughout the year, and toys, clothing, toiletries and other appropriate items are greatly appreciated, as well. Due to infection control policies, all donated items should be brand new and in original packaging. There are also various ways you can volunteer your time for the hospital throughout the year, plus many events to benefit the hospital, including the Jazz Half Marathon in late October, the Marriott Golf Classic on November 7, and the Sugar Plum Ball coming up in March. Cash donations can be allocated to: The Cancer Program, The Critical Care Units, Kids Fund, The Leaman Family Fund, Hogs for the Cause Fund, Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, Child Life, The Guild or The Emergency Transport Helicopter.For details on fundraising events, donations, wish lists, and volunteering, click here or call  (504) 896-9375.

Volunteers of America

VOA of Greater New Orleans has been serving the most vulnerable since the 1890s, when they started helping indigent women and children. Today, they sponsor a wide variety of programs that assist children, families, seniors, veterans and persons living with disabilities in 16 parishes in south Louisiana. Of course, they accept donations throughout the year, and there are always youth mentoring programs that are in need of volunteers, but they’re also currently gearing up for their 15th Annual Christmas Wish Project to spread some holiday cheer to those in need this season. If you let them know how many people you would like to adopt, they will send you wish lists. Gifts will need to be wrapped, labeled, and delivered to their office by Tuesday, December 6th. The public can also donate money to the  Christmas Wish Project by Wednesday, November 30, via the website by selecting “Christmas Wish Project” in the gift designation menu.

New Orleans Mission

The New Orleans Mission provides food, shelter, clothing and spiritual guidance to the city’s homeless, hurting and hungry. Their commitment to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of the homeless community is backed by the financial support of generous local residents, churches, organizations and corporate donors, but they are always looking for volunteers to help in their efforts. Groups, families and individuals can bring food to impoverished areas or serve breakfast, lunch or dinner at the mission. There’s also a ministry team from that seeks out the homeless in our city, and they host a monthly Kidztown event, where they go to a local neighborhood to set up fun activities for the local community, plus they provide food, a live band, and a presentation of the Gospel. Coming up on November 4 from 6-10pm, they’re hosting a fundraising gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For information on these and other opportunities to support the Mission, click here

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Covenant House

There are multiple ways to contribute to this organization, which provides food, clothing, shelter, and comprehensive services to youth who are among the most damaged in our community, most of whom are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, domestic and/or street violence, and the resulting trauma that often leads to substance abuse, mental health issues, and more. In addition to providing for their residents on a regular basis, Covenant House typically provides Christmas gifts to their residents, so they look for brand new items for residents ages 16-22 (male and female) and their children (babies and toddlers). To watch for updates on holiday events and activities, to see the wish list or get a link to their Amazon wishlist, or to learn about service projects, volunteer opportunities, or to make a regular monetary donation or to learn more about Covenant House, click here

Raintree Children & Family Services

This organization’s mission is “to provide needed services to at-risk children and youth, encouraging hope and creating opportunities for growth and independent lives.” In addition to their year-round efforts, this United Way partner agency holds an annual holiday toy drive for children in foster care and are they always looking for groups to participate. They provide a wishlist for each child, and the children range from infancy to 17 years old. For a lot of these children, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a holiday of any kind or had gifts under the tree, so it’s an extra special drive. To find out how to contribute, call 504-899-9045, email info@raintreeservices.org, or visit their website. 

NORTHSHORE

LCDC’s Turkey Day 5K & the Mashed Potato Mile

The fourth annual event, held at Chappapeela Sports Park on November 19 is a great opportunity to burn some pre-holiday calories while supporting the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center and Our Daily Bread food bank. The Mashed Potato Mile starts at 8am and the 5K run starts at 8:30am. Participants can pre-register at Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center at 113 N. Cypress Street in Hammond. Race day registration will start at 7:30am. For more details, or to find out about volunteer opportunities, visit their website. 

Covington Food Bank

Covington Food Bank provides food assistance to more than 375 individuals and families each week who have found themselves in need.The Food Bank is supported by local food drives held by individuals, schools, civic organizations and businesses, as well as monetary donations and Second Harvest donations. At this time of year, they are in need of basic food items, including cereal, canned tuna and chicken, dry beans, and rice. On November 11 at 6:30pm, they’re hosting their Pallet With a Purpose fundraiser in their warehouse, featuring live music, food, and a silent auction. They are also seeking volunteer groups in November and December to help sort food donations. Call (985) 893-3003 or visit their website for more information, or to learn about hosting a food drive.

St Tammany Hospital’s Hospice Angels of Light

This long-standing tradition, which benefits St. Tammany Hospital’s Hospice program for terminally ill patients and their families, takes place on Thursday, December 8 from  5:30pm-6:30pm  in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Lobby in Covington. People are invited to honor or memorialize a loved one with the purchase of an angel, which will adorn the Tree of Life. During the tree lighting ceremony, there will be refreshments, as well as live music. To purchase an angel or learn about other sponsorship opportunities, go here or call (985)-898-4141.

ACCESS

ACCESS, which stands for adapting and changing children’s environment with successful solutions, raises funds to provide financial grants to families of children Southeastern Louisiana and the Gulf South Region with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and autism.These grants are used to purchase adaptive equipment, assistive devices, home/car/van modifications, and other interventions that are not covered by private insurance and/or Medicaid. The organization’s annual fundraisers include BooFest at Halloween and Sweet Soiree in the spring, but they also accept individual donations and sponsorships. For ways to contribute, click here. 

PRIDE Youth & Community Resources

PRIDE stands for Parent’s Resource Institute for Drug Education, but it also has a teen component in which young leaders sign contracts promising to be drug-free and help their peers be drug-free as well. They hold multiple socials and community events assist in their efforts to promote the healthy, drug-free development of the youth and families within St. Tammany Parish. There are many ways to contribute to this organization, including donating silent auction items for Red Ribbon Gala each October, making a one-time or monthly donation, or shopping online through AmazonSmile. For more information about ways to contribute, call (985) 727-7710, email office@prideresources.org, or visit their website