They say the third time’s a charm, but the first two weren’t so bad, either.
On Sept. 20–21, Tourism Cares returns to the Big Easy for Tourism Cares for New Orleans. Here’s a look back at what we gave (and got) during our 2004 and 2008 projects—and a look at what’s ahead this year.
2004: Restoring a historic cemetery
More than 350 travel industry volunteers helped restore St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans—landscaping, cleaning and painting tombs in the city’s oldest cemetery, which dates to 1789.
The hope was that our volunteer efforts would spur local groups to come out and do their own projects—which they did. School groups and the Tour Guide Association of New Orleans started regular preservation days, aided by the $5,000 worth of supplies and equipment our group donated.
“St. Louis No. 1 is one of New Orleans’ most treasured and toured landmarks, filled with history and legends of our city,” says Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans CVB. “Participants had the opportunity to experience the culture and sites of New Orleans, while learning about the significance of the cemeteries and their place in our national heritage. It’s an honor to have been chosen for this project.”
Before the work began, the group kicked off the program in Jackson Square with breakfast provided by the legendary Café Du Monde and inspiration from a gospel choir. To further rally the volunteers, a Dixieland band led them in a procession through the French Quarter to Rampart Street, ending at the restoration site.
2008: Revitalizing Louis Armstrong Park
Between our first and second visits, the devastating Hurricane Katrina changed New Orleans forever. The need was overwhelming in the aftermath, but one small way we helped was by revitalizing Louis Armstrong Park, a gem located in the historical Tremé neighborhood. During the 1800s, enslaved and free African-Americans performed in this park on Sundays, the only day they could dance and sing in public.
But Hurricane Katrina threatened this cultural treasure. Floodwaters and hurricane winds damaged valuable electronic equipment and structural elements in the park’s performance venues, rendering them unsuitable for use and significantly disrupting the Crescent City’s performing arts schedule.
In 2008, our 320 volunteers painted fences, cleared debris and helped reopen Louis Armstrong Park for public use.
“It was great to help and do something for New Orleans,” says 2008 volunteer Tonya Shipley, “It was a learning experience, and I enjoyed meeting the many people who came from all over the country to help—as well as the locals.”
Thanks to many volunteers since then—and funding from the government for repairs—Louis Armstrong Park is still immensely popular.
“2008 was my first Tourism Cares event. I’m originally from New Orleans, and it was so meaningful to be able to assist with the city’s recovery efforts,” says Stephanie Roman, freelance writer and author. “I can’t wait to volunteer again 10 years later!”
2018: Celebrating TC and NOLA
Our organization turns 15 this year, and at Tourism Cares for New Orleans, we’ll celebrate in proper NOLA style. We’ll adopt a neighborhood, and volunteers will work together to revitalize the area and support environmental sustainability. Our projects will help ensure that NOLA’s distinct arts and culture continue to thrive.
Whether you were with us or not in ’04 or ’08, you can join us in September of 2018. Visit tourismcares.org/neworleans for information and to register.
Top photo: Volunteers at the 2004 project helped clean tombstones in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.