Wilbert “Mr. Chill” Wilson, Uptown’s own barber and businessman, died on Thursday, Dec. 26, at the age of 51, as reported by WGNO. Wilson’s reported cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Wilson was best known in the city as an entrepreneur. He owned Mr. Chill’s First Class Cuts (2736 S. Carrollton Ave.) and Mr. Chill’s First Class Hot Dogs & Sweet’s Pastries (575 S. Carrollton Ave.).
One of the most impactful cultural institutions in New Orleans will welcome a new leader as a community pioneer retires. Ashé Cultural Arts Center co-founder Carol Bebelle is leaving her executive director position, which she has held since its inception. The New Orleans City Council began their Dec. 5 meeting by honoring Bebelle as well as the center’s positive impact on community and culture via Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. “This is a moment of extreme pride for us as we honor Carol Bebelle for her 21 years of leadership at Ashé Cultural Arts Center,” said Ashé Board President Beverly Andry at the meeting.
When local tourism’s most established entrepreneur Warren Reuther, Jr. christens the new 3,000 passenger Riverboat Louis Armstrong on Saturday afternoon, it will be a crowning achievement of an almost 50 year career as a visionary leader in the tourism industry.
The owner of Hospitality Enterprises and Big Easy.com, Reuther employs more than 500 people and currently operates a diverse array of interrelated businesses including hotels, restaurants and convention facilities in Natchez, Mississippi; Natchitoches, Louisiana; and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen; New Orleans Tours; On the Town Concierge; Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours; Destination New Orleans Management Inc.; New Orleans Airport Shuttle; and Hop On Hop Off New Orleans. Reuther is recognized as the dean of New Orleans tourism, having served 10 years as chairman of the Morial Convention Center and 12 years as chairman of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, now New Orleans & Co. In addition Reuther was instrumental in helping develop the cruise ship industry in New Orleans by lobbying for the passage of legislation that allowed the ships to keep their casinos open while traveling to and from the mouth of the Mississippi River. A decade later, the success of cruise ships and cruise-ship gaming paved the way for the passage of riverboat gaming legislation that Reuther also nurtured, and eventually our land-based casino. Born in the 9th Ward, Reuther attended St.
The world record for the largest display of a Mexican fruit has been set by a Thibodaux-based grocery chain’s Uptown store on Tchoupitoulas Street. If that sounds strange, here’s another way of saying it — Rouses shipped in 112,000 avocados, and put every single one on display. The behemoth layout went up Wednesday at the Tchoupitoulas location, with images of it quickly spreading across social media after shoppers encountered the most avocados they had ever seen. Rouses marketed the event as a new festival of sorts, saying Wednesday marked the start of the four-day “Avocado Fest,” which included chefs preparing avocado dishes, free samples of avocado and, yes, a photo opportunity with an avocado character. The display and surrounding activities were all essentially a store promotion, albeit on a much larger scale than Rouses normally does, organizers said.
In a recent speech to the Committee for a Better New Orleans, or CBNO, outgoing state Sen. J.P. Morrell urged attendees to talk with legislators statewide about issues important to them. “Legislators want to hear from the public,” said Morrell. Sometimes a legislator might not have a great deal of information about a specific bill and has not made a decision how to vote. When they hear from citizens – especially those who are directly impacted by the legislation or the problem it would solve – their decisions are better informed. “You can change legislators’ minds by talking to them,” Morrell explained.
Dr. Ali Sadeghi hosts
“Let’s Hear It For The Girls” breast cancer fundraiser gala
City lights twinkled on the waterfront. Neon windbreakers and leg warmers twirled on the dance floor at La Maison Du Lac on Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans on a beautiful fall night. On the 25th of October, the Sadeghi Center for Plastic Surgery hosted its first “Let’s Hear It For The Girls” Gala to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Complete with a DJ jockeying ’80s dance tunes, delicious food, a photo booth, and a live auction, the event raised over $30,000 for the cause. Though the party was a ball, breast cancer is a serious matter that deserves attention.
Kingsley House honored its veterans on Nov. 8 with a special celebratory ceremony that commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, a gift presentation by the Kingsley House children and remarks from guest speaker, William F. Ryan, a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer. Most of the veterans honored are enrolled in the Kingsley Adult Day Care program on the Patrick F. Taylor campus, which provides effective day care in a community setting for at-risk seniors, medically fragile adults and veterans. “Today, as we celebrated our veterans, we had an opportunity to honor some extraordinary men who have tirelessly served our country,” said Nathalie Fenno, adult services director of Kingsley House. “With support from funders such as the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust and Pratt-Stanton Manor Fund, we have recently enhanced our adult day-care program and can now provide additional high-quality services for our veterans and other vulnerable adults in the community.”
Established in 1896, Kingsley House initiated its KADC program in 1974, and today it is the largest adult day-care program in New Orleans and the state.
The volunteers at Court Watch NOLA are a well-oiled data collection machine that have made a significant impact on the operations of the Orleans Parish criminal court system for more than a decade. “We are a basic exercise in democracy,” said director Simone Levine. Through the information skilled volunteers collect, the agency publishes reports “that spur dialogue and bring much needed transparency and accountability to the courts.”
Founded after Hurricane Katrina by the New Orleans Business Council and other forward-thinking organizations, Court Watch NOLA seeks to shorten the gulf between “insiders” and “outsiders,” Levine explained. Outsiders are the crime victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors. Insiders are the public officials who run the system, including the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police officers and Sheriff’s Office officials. “Court Watch NOLA teaches outsiders the language of court so that outsiders can bring accountability and help to solve some of the problems that insiders have so regularly lived with that they often no longer see as problematic,” Levine said.
The New Orleans Film Festival turned 30 this year, and their diversity in films and filmmakers is a point that they stress. This year, they screened “232 visionary, thought-provoking films that represent a wealth of perspectives,” 26% of which were Louisiana-made and 56% directed by people of color. One series based in Uptown New Orleans made its debut on the NOFF big screen and online simultaneously. “King Ester”—directed by Dui Jarrod and presented by Issa Rae’s ColorCreative production company—takes the viewer into the world of a black trans woman right before natural disaster. Filmed all over New Orleans and based in Pigeon Town (P-Town), the series is described as such:
“Ester is a trans woman struggling to find her path in New Orleans during the week before Hurricane Katrina. In the face of an evacuation order, she is forced to make a choice that will impact her future forever.”
Xavier University of Louisiana, in partnership with The Louisiana Creole Research Association, will celebrate the opening of “Picturing Creole New Orleans: The Photography of Arthur P. Bedou” on Saturday, Oct. 26. The exhibition is part of LA Creole’s 15th annual conference, and it will feature collected photographs by the heralded New Orleans native who was personal photographer to Booker T. Washington. “The purpose of the conference is to showcase Creole life in New Orleans in the early 20th century through the lens of Mr. Bedou,” conference organizers said. Lectures, a panel discussion, presentations, and workshops inspired by Bedou’s legacy will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Xavier University’s Convocation Center Annex, 7401 Stroelitz St., Building 62 (at Fern St.).