More than 60 bags of trash and more than a dozen bulk items were carted away from the Hollygrove-Dixon area on Saturday (Oct. 8), the Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office reported. The cleanup was part of the Neighborhood Cares Initiative, a comprehensive, coordinated initiative combining the efforts of multiple city departments and volunteers from the community. More than 30 volunteers participated. On Saturday and throughout the previous week, city departments patched over 100 potholes, cut 29 overgrown lots and cleared dumping sites throughout the neighborhood.
Last year ago, the unimaginable happened: February passed in New Orleans with no Carnival parades. With parades cancelled due to Covid, there were no massive floats rolling the street, no masses of revelers standing elbow-to-elbow and hollering to have some beads thrown their way.
So New Orleanians had to use their own imagination and come up with a safer way to celebrate. What they came up with was Yardi Gras: a new tradition where revelers decorated their own homes as elaborate floats. This year, Mardi Gras is back — but Yardi Gras survives as well, along with the spirit of imagination and ingenuity it represents. While there are fewer homes participating in the Krewe of House Floats this year, there’s still plenty of creativity on display, as seen in the neighborhoods of Broadmoor and Fontainebleau.
When three smaller subkrewes of the Krewe of House Floats —University, Freret and St. Charles Avenue — melded into one, an anything-goes theme evolved, which in turn became “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler,” said subkrewe captain Jenna Rockett. With no constraints to follow, krewe members improvised their individual whims. The Bergers of State Street decided to lean into their name by turning their house into a burger joint. The family’s “State Street Soda Shoppe” house float serves up a giant balcony burger, fries, a milkshake and an ice cream sundae. It’s a theme that delights the Bergers’ two young daughters, Lillian and Grace.
The residents of the Irish Channel are once again showing their creativity and Carnival spirit in Year Two of the Krewe of House Floats. This year, the neighborhood’s theme is “Down on the Bayou.”
The Irish Channel subkrewe captain, Autumn Town, said that the theme is a way to pay homage to bayou communities struggling to recover from Hurricane Ida. Because New Orleanians are able to decorate their homes while so many people on the bayou are still rebuilding, the subkrewe is also holding a fundraiser for Ida relief. The KoHF participants are collecting supplies and funds for the People of the Bayou campaign as part of the neighborhood efforts.
Town was the subkrewe’s co-captain last year and is flying solo this year. She first got involved when KoHF started in 2021 from a random post that popped up on her Facebook feed.
In its second year, the Audubon-Riverside subkrewe of House Floats selected the theme “Déjà Vu in 2022.” It has a double meaning. First, it’s here we are again — still with the pandemic. The Krewe of House Floats’ overall theme for the 2022 Carnival season, “Vaccinate, Decorate, Celebrate,” is also a nod to the enduring pandemic.
Audubon-Riverside’s theme has a second meaning, recognizing that many residents plan to re-use most or all of their house float decorations from last year. One such resident is Sarena Teng, whose house float on Laurel Street at Napoleon has its own Instagram account (@queenofbouncehouse). Her Queen of Bounce House uses the same Big Freedia figure from 2021, but added a twist, based on the KoHF theme “Vaccinate, Decorate, Celebrate.”
“It is still and always will be the Queen of Bounce House, but this year, it’s ‘Big Freedia Saves the World’ against viral invaders,” Teng said.
Playing off the popular 1980s “Space Invaders” video game, she made coronavirus germs out of lime green paper lanterns with hot-glued red glittery pompoms to look like spike proteins. Her Big Freedia has a giant vaccine syringe with a light-up laser gun that shoots down the germs. Nighttime viewers can see the vaccine explode in a fireball of green flashing lights.
The Broadmoor Improvement Association is holding a Day of Service event Monday (Jan. 17) in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Volunteers will repaint the mural on the Gen. Pershing Street side of Broadmoor Arts & Wellness Center and assist at the Broadmoor Food Pantry. The neighborhood association will also hold its first meeting of the year on Monday morning. To take part in the Day of Service, meet at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Broadmoor Arts & Wellness Center, 3900 Gen. Taylor St.
Broad Community Connections is proposing to include the B.W. Cooper public housing site in the South Broad Street Cultural District.
Three original buildings are left of the original Calliope Projects, renamed for B.W. Cooper in 1981. After Hurricane Katrina, the development was shuttered. Most of it was demolished and replaced with Marrero Commons, a mixed-income townhouse-style development. Broad Community Connections, a nonprofit that works with small businesses to redevelop the Broad Street corridor, said about two-thirds of the Marrero Commons complex sits within the proposed expansion area. The proposal would expand the South Broad Street Cultural District to include the land bordered by Earhart Boulevard, South Dorgenois Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South Galvez Street.
The Cultural Districts Program was created by the Louisiana legislature in 2007 to revitalize and preserve cultural hubs within the state.
By Sharon Lurye, Uptown Messenger
A proposal from the Housing Authority of New Orleans to turn the former McDonogh 7 school building into affordable housing drew intense interest from neighbors as more than 50 people attended an online community meeting on Friday (June 18). Representatives from HANO and the architecture firm VergesRome laid out plans for the Uptown site, which currently houses the upper grades of Audubon Charter School. The three-story school building would be turned into 27 affordable housing units for seniors, while the rest of the site would house 12 more units in the form of family duplexes. There would be 41 parking spaces in total, and 20% of the site would be green space. If all goes according to plan, the Housing Authority aims for City Council approval in December or January and would start construction in the fall of 2022 or spring of 2023.
It’s rare that something as mundane as the subdivision of a residential lot gets much attention, but a proposal to sell and divide a historic property in the Carrollton area has led to protests from neighbors who want the land to be saved. The controversy concerns a lot on 914 Dante Street that holds a six-unit apartment building, plus a side yard with several mature, leafy trees. According to Susan Johnson of the watchdog organization Town of Carrollton Watch, who has been researching the property, the lot was the site of a Union Army hospital during the Civil War. That hospital was later destroyed, possibly in a fire. The current structure was once home to F.C. Zeller, the mayor of the town of Carrollton before it became part of New Orleans.
Riverlake Properties, the property owner, plans to request permission from the city to divide the lot into two.
Broadmoor is coming into full bloom this spring as the Broadmoor Improvement Association and Tulane students lead efforts to revitalize three local community gardens. Two of the gardens – the Food Forest on Toledano Street near Dorgenois Street and another produce patch at the Broadmoor Community Church – will produce fresh herbs and vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. A rain garden at South Miro and Gen. Taylor streets will help mitigate flooding and beautify the area with native plants like cattails, cypress trees and irises.
The goal of the gardens is simple: “We grow food and we nurture plants to bring people together,” said Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot, a professor of ecology and biology at Tulane University. Cheruiyot’s students are working as busily as bees in the Broadmoor gardens each week as part of internships and classes related to urban agroecology, as well as an additional garden at the New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. But the ultimate goal is to recruit neighborhood volunteers so that the lots will truly be sustainable community gardens, with an emphasis on the community.
The old Rite Aid property at 3401 St. Charles Ave., vacant since 2018, may gain new life. Developers plan to build a 115-unit apartment complex with 19,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Neighborhood residents are abuzz about the planned development at St. Charles and Louisiana avenues, and reactions are split between excitement over the new development and concerns over its size. The development will have a five-story building facing Louisiana and a three-story townhouse behind it, facing Delachaise Street.