Bonnet Carré Spillway

Bonnet Carre Spillway Opened to Control Rising Mississippi River

In what has been touted as the wettest winter in the region in over a century, the Mississippi River continues to rise and poses a risk of flooding to New Orleans and other river towns along the Mississippi. To avoid that scenario, the Army Corps of Engineers has opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert some of the river water and relieve pressure on the New Orleans levees and drainage system.

This news has drawn much attention because this is the first time that the Spillway will be opened for two years in a row – after 2016 and 2018.

The Spillway is meant to drain water from the Mississippi River and the Ohio River Valley to Lake Pontchartrain. This will be the 13th time that the Spillway has been opened and it is expected to operate for at least a month. 

Too much water

The river water has been rising because of excessive rainfall as well as melting snow and ice. Initially, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to open only 38 bays, but if needed, as many as 200 of the 350 bays could be opened. 

What will be most interesting to note is how the river water affects the water of the lake, considering this is the second time in a year that the Bonnet Carre is being opened. It is noteworthy because the lake is brackish while the river is fresh water.

According to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, an organization that monitors the lake and watches closely for any changes in it, the warm water and nutrients from the river can lead to growth of algae in the lake, which is concerning.

Since a large number of organisms live in the lake, from fish to crabs, the growth of algae could rob them of the oxygen they need for survival.

Some forms of algae are toxic and can be harmful to the plants and animals that live at the bottom of the lake. This will either kill them or make them go away to a different water body.

Changing water may affect water creatures

The good news is that the foundation believes any change caused by algae will be temporary. Come summer, most of the water from the lake will be washed to the Gulf of Mexico. However, even temporary changes can make the underwater creatures look for better living conditions, and that’s going to hurt the seafood industry.

On the other hand, the river water bringing back nutrients in the lake could facilitate the growth of many new organisms, something that happened in the past every time the Spillway was opened.

There is also the Morganza Spillway near Baton Rouge, which was last opened in 2011, but the Corps said it doesn’t plan to open that. Commander Col. Michael Clancy of the Corps said that the biggest benefit of opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway is that no private property will be flooded. 

The public is even allowed to watch the opening of the Spillway, and it is an event that consistently draws many spectators.

Acadia Music Festival

Perfect weather is forecasted this weekend for the Acadia Music Fest! This festival, celebrating the art, food, culture, and most importantly MUSIC of the Cajun people takes place this Saturday, October 28th in Thibodaux and runs from 10am-11pm. Thibodaux is a small city in Lafourche Parish located on the banks of Bayou Lafourche, about 1.5 hours away from downtown New Orleans.  It is in this area of Southern Louisiana, commonly referred to as Cajun Country where Cajun music has developed since the arrival of Acadian people to Louisiana from Nova Scotia in 1764.  Historically, cajun music has been characterized by primarily string instruments, the earliest of which was the violin (or fiddle).  The Germans introduced the accordian into the mix in the late 1800s. Today, modern influence from rock, R&B, and blues have blended into the traditional folk-like music to give cajun music a new sound and a new respect.  Experience the sounds of Acadia LIVE this weekend at the festival.

Satchmo Summerfest + White Linen Night + Coolinary Month

This first weekend in August is all about the arts!

Coolinary Month

The culinary arts are highlighted all month long in restaurants across the city. With August’s Coolinary events, you can try all of the best dishes in NOLA in a budget friendly way with special prix-fixe menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner. View all 85 participating restaurants here.

Satchmo Fest

August 4th – 6th, we honor the life and legacy of Louis Satchmo Armstrong at the Satchmo Summerfest, complete with 3 stages of non-stop music, dance lessons, a jazz mass, and a special Satchmo Salute second-line parade on Sunday, August 6th! See the full music lineup here.

White Linen Night

Saturday night (August 5th) is the annual block party for the arts hosted by the Contemporary Arts Center.  White linen garments are worn by attendees to beat the heat! Come out and enjoy the visual arts in the galleries lining Julia St. and scattered through the CBD aka The Arts District.

A REAL New Orleans Saint!

New Orleans is of course home to the Saints football team, but did you know that it is also the home of the (potentially) first New Orleanian to be declared a saint by the Catholic church?  Henriette Delille was a woman of the 1800s, born to a Frenchman and a free woman of color. She grew up trained in the art of placage, a social practice of the time in French and Spanish colonies where white men entered into a contractual agreement with women of color, thereby circumventing the laws of the time prohibiting interracial marriage.  Naturally, Henriette was expected to inherit her mother’s role in society. But she rejected the system which (not surprisingly) favored the wealthy men, and took advantage of many women with little or no options in life.  Instead, the venerable Henriette Delille devoted her life to helping others.  At age 24, she had a religious awakening. Because she was a third generation product of interracial marriage, she could have passed for white in many circles, and most of her relatives did just that.  But she chose to identify as black which precluded her from joining any of the established religious organizations.  Unwaivering in her mission, she founded her own organization, a multicultural order of nuns now known as The Sisters of the Holy Family  who have maintained the mission of their founder for 175 years – to nurse the sick, care for the poor, and instruct the ignorant. In 1989, the sisters formally opened a case with the Vatican to  canonize their founder. Two of her alleged miracles must be validated by the Vatican before Henriette Delille can officially be named a New Orleans saint. To learn more about the life of this amazing woman, visit the exhibition at the museum at the old Ursulines convent at the corner of Chartres and Ursulines in the Historic French Quarter.

OPA! GREEK FEST ON THE BAYOU!

The annual New Orleans Greek Festival is this Memorial Day weekend on the banks of Bayou St. John and it is one of the most popular festivals we have (and we have A LOT of festivals!). The Greeks have had a presence in New Orleans for over 250 years and their culture has been celebrated in this yearly festival for the past 44 years!  Michael Dracos, a wealthy merchant from Athens settled in New Orleans in the mid 1700’s and married a Native American woman. Their daughter married another Greek immigrant in 1799 and they are sited as the FIRST married couple of Greek origin in the United States!  New Orleans was also the birthplace of the first Eastern Orthodox Church built in the Western Hemisphere.  Like all immigrants, the Greeks brought with them the culture, values, food, and religion from their homeland. For most immigrants who fled the turmoil of their homelands, the ability to practice their religion was of the utmost important and it helped them establish communities in the new world. In 1864, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral was founded and although the original structure is no longer standing, the Holy Trinity Cathedral remains today at its new location on Robert E Lee Boulevard at the end of the Bayou! If you are interested in learning more about the history of this church and people, we recommend taking a tour of the Cathedral, which will be offered several times a day during the festival this weekend.

Relive History on the Chalmette Battlefield

The Battle of New Orleans anniversary event is taking place this weekend, January 6th through 8th on the Chalmette Battlefield, only a short drive or river boat ride from downtown New Orleans. The event will feature costumed historians recounting tales from life in 1815, tactile demonstrations of crafts and firearms, as well as period music, talks, and lectures. Americans once took great pride in the victory at the Battle of New Orleans as it was the last great battle against the British in the War of 1812.  January 8th used to be regarded as a national holiday, much like the fourth of July is celebrated today. Learn what makes this Chalmette national historic landmark so special this weekend at the commemoration event!