New booster club for Evans Playground seeks support from Freret businesses

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An undated photo of the basketball court at Evans Playground on LaSalle Street. (via

An undated photo of the basketball court at Evans Playground on LaSalle Street. (via

As Freret residents continue to organize an “official” booster club that would make Evans Playground eligible to host city-sponsored events such as free Movies in the Park and organized sports, they are hoping to attract support and sponsorships from the businesses on the commercial corridor.

Freret resident Leslie Johnson, who has been spearheading the Evans Park Booster Club project, has a meeting scheduled this week with the New Orleans Recreation Department Commission to discuss the application, she told The New Freret business and property owners group on Monday. If the application is approved, the booster club can begin hosting a wide range of activities in the park at 5100 LaSalle Street that are found elsewhere in the city — outdoor movies on the giant inflatable screen, senior fitness programs, drumming sessions and other events.

Harrell Park in west-Carrollton is currently the closet place for Freret kids to play football, Johnson. An Evans Park booster club will also facilitate organized, supervised sports for them close to their homes, putting them in contact with neighborhood role models, Johnson said.

“They can create a positive environment,” Johnson said. “If not, chances are they’re going to be doing something they shouldn’t be.”

Exactly what sports are offered is yet to be determined, partially depending on the discussions with NORDC, and partially depending on what children in the neighborhood are most interested in. Johnson herself has a 3-year-old, she noted, so she knows she’ll be coaching toddler sports, but she is hoping to find people to coach the older kids.

“There’s not an abundance of coaches,” said Michael Casey of Liberty Cheesesteaks, a New Freret board member. “But there is a need. There are children in the neighborhood who run around — we see them.”

Johnson said she is hoping the businesses on Freret Street will see the value of providing more recreational opportunities specifically for the kids in the neighborhood, and that they will step up as sponsors for teams in the park. Johnson said she plans to headquarter the booster club at the Freret Neighborhood Center and office hours for it on Tuesdays, so anyone interested can contact her there.

“We just want to keep the kids happy and the neighborhood safe,” Johnson said.

The Freret Neighbors United group has also expressed support for the booster project. Johnson will provide another update on it at a meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at Green Charter School at 2319 Valence Street.

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