Blog by Stephanie Bell, Executive Director of Friends of City Park
As the City of New Orleans and neighboring Parishes begin to ease the Covid-19 restrictions we are starting to see life return to some normalcy. You can once again sit down at a restaurant. You can visit a salon, and you can even get a workout in at your favorite gym!
City Park’s attractions have also started to open in compliance with proper CDC guidelines. I know that all the puppies out there will be excited to hear that NOLA City Bark is allowing 30 people (and dogs) in its facility starting this week. Also, open are the City Park/Pepsi Tennis Complex, City Putt Mini Golf, Bayou Oaks, the Sports Fields, Wheel Fun boat, and bike rentals on Big Lake and, everyone’s favorite, Storyland.
GEARING UP FOR GiveNOLA DAY ON JUNE 2nd
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions are in place to keep both guests and staff safe while using the facilities. During Phase 1 of the reopening, we are unable to coordinate large gatherings and events. One event that is particularly difficult to miss is our Annual GiveNOLA Day event at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Typically, Friends of City Park would gather its Friends on this annual day to rally funds for the Park, all the while flying high with the horses.
Despite the inability to hold an event this year, Friends of City Park is still working towards its goal to raise $25,000 on this day. In fact, we are halfway there! In early April we were approached by the good folks at Meyer Engineers and they offered to match all GiveNOLA Day donations up to $5,000. Through the hard work of the Friends’ Membership and Marketing staff, we were able to garner quite a bit of support when the Greater New Orleans Foundation opened scheduled giving on May 7th.
JOIN OUR VIRTUAL STREET TEAM
Although we are well on our way we still need some help to reach our goal of $25,000. We plan to do that by enlisting YOU to be a part of our (Virtual) Street Team.
A Street Team is a marketing term used to describe a passionate group of people who ‘hit the streets’ promoting an initiative. In a world where in-person interaction is discouraged, we have decided to arm our Street Teams with everything they need to help us achieve our GiveNOLA Day goal from the comfort of their homes. That’s right, you can help City Park and volunteer by participating in our (Virtual) Street Team, all from your PJ’s!
YES, SIGN ME UP!
Volunteering as part of our (Virtual) Street Team is easy. The Friends of City Park staff have put together a few items to make your job amplifying our message as easy as sending a text.
Your (Virtual) Street Team instructions include:
Use the blurbs below to share our GiveNOLA Day message on June 2nd.
We even provided you multiple versions of the verbiage so that you can spread the word on the platform you prefer. Click the link below that suits your communication style:
So, what are you waiting for? Become a part of Friends of City Park’s (Virtual) Street team, help us create some buzz, and achieve our fundraising goals for the Park. Your contribution whether it be amplifying our message during GiveNOLA Day, or just loving City Park in general, does not go unnoticed. It keeps the Friends of City Park staff going and it keeps the Park going too!
A few words that may come to mind are kind, dependable, loyal, adventurous, helpful, caring, and trustworthy.
During this time of uncertainty, our friends are more important than ever. Friendships lift us up, comfort us, and bring joy to our lives. A friend provides that familiarity, connection, and sense of community that we all crave.
At Friends of City Park, we are incredibly thankful for our Members and Friends. We appreciate their generosity, loyalty, and kindness, now more than ever. The Members of Friends of City Park have responded remarkably to City Park’s plea for help during the Covid-19 crisis and the extraordinary response has not gone unnoticed.
We would like to thank our members and spotlight their efforts by featuring the real members of Friends of City Park in our annual Membership Campaign. The campaign, beginning June 3, will highlight and honor members through a series of photos and testimonials.
For a chance to be featured and share your Friends of City Park story, complete the steps below by Friday, June 1, 2020:
Or post your favorite photo to Instagram and tag us @friendsofcitypark. Answer the questions above in your caption and use #FOCPMember
Membership is vital to the survival and sustainability of our organization. Our members are the heartbeat of this organization, and without them, we could not continue our mission. Thank you for being a Friend.
With guidance from appropriate governmental authorities, New Orleans City Park will begin Phase I opening some of its facilities on Saturday, May 16, 2020.
City Park staff will follow appropriate protocols to ensure cleanliness and safety. Guests are asked to follow CDC, state, and city recommended social distance measures and to stay home if they are sick or have been exposed to Covid-19. Capacity at each attraction will be limited. For the safety of our staff, tickets will be sold online at NewOrleansCityPark.com. Bathrooms outside open attractions will remain closed.
“City Park will reopen some attractions such as non-contact sports and the Botanical Garden with limited admission. We invite guests to use the attractions responsibly and continue to maintain the guidelines set by the CDC. We are so grateful to the people who love City Park and to those who have donated money during this time. We strenuously remind people to continue to follow the rules in place so the Park can continue to move forward in phase one,” said Bob Becker, CEO of New Orleans City Park.
Attractions and Facilities:
Oscar J. Tolmas Visitor Center: Wed. 10am to 8pm and Thurs. – Sun. 10am to 4:30pm; 5 Victory Avenue
City Park/Pepsi Tennis Complex: Open Mon.– Thurs. 8am to 7pm and Fri.– Sun. 8am to 6pm; reservations made over the phone at (504) 483-9383; limited admission
City Putt Mini Golf: Open Wed.- Fri. 3pm to 10pm and Sat. & Sun. noon to 10pm; last rental is 1 hour before close; purchase tickets on this link; limited admission
Bayou Oaks: Open Mon.– Fri. 7am to dark and Sat. & Sun. 6am to dark; clubhouse will close each day at 7pm; reservations made on CityParkGolf.com; limited admission
This year, with all of our plans and expectations, flipped upside down, you may be wondering how to celebrate Mother’s Day. While it’s not the celebration we may have hoped and planned for, it’s times like these that bring us closer together and make us realize what is truly important in life. And isn’t that what Mom is always trying to do, bring us closer together?
During these moments, we are called to lean in and create new memories and traditions. As your Friends of City Park, we want to share some unique ways to celebrate and honor Mom. Here’s a list of five activities and gifts we know she will enjoy!
Plan a Picnic in City Park
With an abundance of green space, City Park is the perfect location to find a beautiful, shaded picnic area. All you need is a blanket, a picnic basket or tote bag, and mom’s favorite things to snack & sip on. Like Mom always says, remember to pick up any trash and to stay safe by following CDC social distancing guidelines.
Create an Outdoor Escape at Home
If you feel most comfortable celebrating at home, create an escape for mom in your own backyard! You can purchase a variety of plants and garden gift items online from the New Orleans Botanical Garden Gift Shop. For more information on the plants and availability, contact Pelican Greenhouse Plant Sales at 504-483-9437 or email email@example.com.
Plan a Family-Friendly Competition
It’s a great time to stay in shape and to get active with your family. Map out a family walk or fun run in City Park and choose a route that highlights mom’s favorite spots in the Park. Enjoy this time together and experience City Park in a new, unique way that is special to you and your family. Friendly competition and prizes are always encouraged!
Plan a Roadtrip to Look Forward To
Time spent together is the best gift you can give your mom. There is no better way to show your love than to plan a family trip together. Use this time to research and plan the road trip you’ve always dreamed of. Win brownie points by entering mom for a chance to win a 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Premium. Raffle tickets are $75 and only 750 tickets will be sold. The winner will be announced on July 22, 2020. After all, love is what makes a Subaru, and love is what makes a mother.
Take Photos Together in City Park
What does a mom love more than photos of her children? It’s a great time to dress up and have fun with a photoshoot in City Park. The wildflowers have bloomed and make a gorgeous backdrop to any photo. If you feel most comfortable at home, we have a solution! Plant City Park wildflower seeds in your own yard for mom to enjoy every day by donating to Friends of City Park between May 5 and June 1 through Give NOLA Day – Friends of City Park.
However you plan to celebrate Mom, the most important thing to remember is, it is the thought that counts. Whether you are together in New Orleans City Park or on a Zoom call in your living room, being thoughtful and letting her know how special she is will mean the most to her.
Friends of City Park is so fortunate to have the most loyal and dedicated restaurant partners for our events. We recognize that our efforts would not be as successful without their generous support. Unfortunately, restaurants are among the hardest hit businesses due to the spread of Covid-19; which may ultimately compromise the hospitality industry in our great city. With the stay at home order extended to May 16, we ask our community to join us as we support our friends and restaurants.
If you have the means, here is a list of simple, easy ways to help:
Order take-out and delivery
Contribute to fundraisers
Buy gift cards
Share your favorite restaurants on social media
Mayor LaToya Cantrell confirmed via Twitter that the Governor’s announcement will not result in any changes to the existing stay at home mandate in Orleans Parish. Restaurants in Orleans Parish will not be allowed to offer outdoor seating for take-out orders.
City Park has an abundance of open green space for you to create your own outdoor social distancing dining experience. Order from your favorite restaurant and enjoy this time outdoors beneath our beautiful oak trees. Grab a blanket, fill up your picnic basket, and enjoy your meal in City Park, but please make sure you follow the recommendations on cleanliness and social distancing. Help us keep the Park clean and our community safe!
Please consider ordering from one of the establishments below:
Friends of City Park is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Stephanie G. Bell, MBA, to the position of Executive Director, Andrea Lockwood to the position of Director of Special Events and Marketing, and Taylor Gibbs to the position of Administrative Assistant. The new hires join the team alongside Membership Manager, Natalie Robinson, who has been with Friends of City Park since 2012. The Friends of City Park Board of Directors and Staff are delighted to welcome them and to share this positive and uplifting news during this time of difficulty.
Stephanie Bell joins us with a background in nonprofit management and an impressive history of leadership – helping organizations to innovate, thrive, and increase visibility. Prior to joining, Mrs. Bell successfully created value-added programs, planned and executed special events, and exceeded fundraising goals as Vice President of Investor Relations for the New Orleans Business Alliance. Mrs. Bell also served as the Director of Outreach and Alumni Engagement for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in conjunction with Delgado Community College. She has filled several positions across the marketing and communications field as she has built her career, including leading a team of marketing consultants as the Advertising Manager of McClatchy-owned Sun Herald Multimedia and working in marketing and enrollment in academia. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Get to Know Stephanie
With a strong history of community leadership and passion for environmental sustainability, Mrs. Bell currently serves on the board of the US Green Building Council of Louisiana, the Regional Sustainability Council, and the Woodlands Conservancy. She is a native Louisianan who currently resides in New Orleans with her husband, Brandon, and their dog, Auggie. Mrs. Bell enjoys classic New Orleans events and festivals such as Hogs for a Cause, Jazz Fest, and Japan Fest.
Q&A with Stephanie
Q: Why were you drawn to Friends of City Park?
A: When working in economic development, you spend a lot of time thinking about ways to market your community and you focus on those gems that add to the quality of life in your area. Naturally, New Orleans City Park is always top-of-mind when it comes to valuable assets in our City. When the opportunity to become the next Executive Director of Friends of City Park became available, I could not pass up the chance to represent this gem and work with Friends members to sustain this beautiful space for City of New Orleans’ residents. Having an opportunity to advance environmental conservation, social health equity and wellness is appealing to me and it hits me at my core – It is meaningful work.
Q: What is your favorite attraction or activity in City Park?
A: I really enjoy taking walks among the Park’s mature live oaks while listening to a nerdy podcast. There is no better way to get in 10k steps a day! My husband, Brandon, and I take our dog, Auggie, to City Bark every weekend for some much-needed play time. I recently picked up tennis as a hobby and am looking forward to the courts reopening soon so I can improve my game.
Q:What is your overall goal or lasting impression you hope to make at Friends of City Park?
A: I plan to add to the phenomenal impact! Friends of City Park Board of Directors have been raising awareness for Park improvements for over 40 years. Understanding all the good work that has come before me, I will work hard to create a fresh vision for Friends that builds on the passion that the members have for the Park. Without hesitation, I commit to ensuring operational excellence, transparency, and financial sustainability. I also intend on sustaining the positive working environment for the staff. It is a great group of committed individuals who work hard and like to have fun!
Andrea Lockwood joins us with a strong background in event planning and production where she developed exceptional logistical processes and procedures to streamline her high-profile client’s complex events. Prior to joining, Andrea executed creative concepts, event management tools and displayed leadership through her cultivation of social, non-profit, and corporate events as the Events and Operations Manager at Z Event Company. Andrea also worked in Film Production and Accounting for large studios such as 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, and MGM, where she learned diplomacy, and perfected her planning, budgeting, and problem-solving skills. Some of her most notable projects include DjangoUnchained, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and The Magnificent Seven. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations from the University of Mississippi.
Get to Know Andrea
As an active community member, Andrea gives back by serving on several committees. She is a Junior Executive Board Member and Logistics Committee Chair for Shuck Cancer New Orleans – The American Cancer Society, the Décor Chair for Colors of the Mind – Ochsner Neuroscience Institute and is on the Restaurant Committee for Research for the Cure – Louisiana Cancer Research Center. Andrea finds tremendous joy in celebrating others and giving generously to those in need. Her position with Friends of City Park grants her the ability to celebrate life through special events and to give back to the community she loves.
Q&A with Andrea
Q: Why were you drawn to Friends of City Park?
A: As a frequent visitor to City Park and as a lover of nature and being outdoors, my connection to Friends of City Park was immediate. To work with one of the largest and most visited urban parks in America brings me great joy and excitement. In addition to the beautiful grounds and abundance of cultural and recreational experiences, I was drawn to the way Friends of City Park connects with the community. I also feel most fulfilled while working with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.
Q: What is your favorite attraction or activity in City Park?
A: Picnics under the oak trees with my husband, Joseph, and dog, Tucker, is a favorite for me. I also enjoy the biking and running trails as a way to stay healthy and active. However, no visit to City Park is complete without a beignet or frozen café au lait from Café du Monde.
Q: What is your overall goal or lasting impression you hope to make at Friends of City Park?
A: Friends of City Park has done a tremendous job over the years and has some of the most successful and recognizable fundraiser events in the city. I will work in collaboration with my talented team members to grow and continue the success of these events. In addition, I hope to establish and produce new, visionary events and concepts for City Park to benefit from for years to come.
New Orleans native, Taylor Gibbs, is a long-time employee of City Park. She started her tenure at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and was promoted to the Assistant Manager of the Oscar J. Tolmas Visitor Center. She also served as an Event Manager for Scout Island Scream Park prior to joining the Friends of City Park team as our Administrative Assistant.
Get to Know Taylor
Taylor studied Child & Family Studies at Northwestern State University and was the leader of her CYO group at church. She loves spending quality time with her family, listening to music, and being a tourist in her own city.
Q&A with Taylor
Q: Why were you drawn to Friends of City Park?
A: Having worked for seven years for New Orleans City Park, I have devoted my career to helping it grow and have witnessed the many changes over the years. Having an opportunity to work in so many areas of the Park has given me a deep appreciation for the capital improvements that have happened over the years. Joining the Friends of City Park staff was a great fit because now I get to work towards improving and beautifying the place that I love so much. Supporting the fundraising efforts to transform parts of the Park through capital improvements is a true joy!
Q: What is your favorite attraction or activity in City Park?
A: Of course, it is hard to choose just one! I truly find something new to do every time I spend time in the Park. Currently at the top of my list is the New Orleans Botanical Garden. It is one of the most peaceful places in the Park. The space is always changing with every season, so it is a must see at least four times a year. They have recently added an outdoor kitchen and they provide cooking demonstrations and food education using fresh veggies and herbs right from the garden.
Q: What is your favorite festival to attend in New Orleans?
A: By far, French Quarter Fest is my favorite festival in New Orleans. You cannot beat the spring-time weather and the largest display of Louisiana music. My favorite tradition is visiting Landry’s for their lobster, crab and shrimp bisque while hitting up all of the stages throughout the Quarter.
Friends of City Park is thrilled to welcome Stephanie, Andrea, and Taylor. Together they bring many assets, talent, and fresh perspective to this organization. Their knowledge, experience, and expertise will continue to add to the impact Friends of City Park has made over the last 40 years.
Friends of City Park is a regional, non-profit organization whose mission is to maintain and increase the value and importance of City Park as a place of natural beauty, culture, recreation and education for the public.
As a generous Park supporter, I want to give you an update on how the Park is doing during this crisis and what precautions you should be taking if you use our open spaces. City Park’s leadership has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) global health emergency. Our first priority is always the health and safety of park visitors, staff, supporters, volunteers, friends, and neighbors. As you know, Governor Edwards and Mayor Cantrell implemented a Stay-at-Home order to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
While staying indoors is critical during this time, if you must get air, exercise, or walk your dog, we implore you to listen to the CDC’s recommendations for cleanliness and social distancing. City Park’s open spaces are accessible for passive solitary recreational use only. Most facilities, bathrooms, playgrounds, and work-out equipment areas are closed.
In regards to our operations, the Park generates 90% of its operating income through self-generated revenues. Virtually all of that revenue has now been cut off through group cancellations of weddings and events or from closures of Park facilities ordered by the government. Below are a few key take-aways on our current standing due to the impact of park closures and what we are doing to help ourselves:
• While we have some reserves built up since Katrina, they will only carry us a few months. Therefore, we have frozen hiring, eliminated overtime, cancelled non-essential contracts, we are negotiating with vendors, furloughed all part time employees, and have implemented an across the board pay reduction in order to extend the time we can employ staff until the restrictions are lifted. • We have informed the Commissioner of Administration and the Deputy Commissioner of our situation. We have also informed our Louisiana State representative and senator of the situation. • We have made an appeal to the Commissioner for direct financial assistance from the State for the next six months at a minimum. The State did put us in the State operating budget for three years after Katrina to help us stabilize. • I have agreed to stay as the Park’s CEO for at least another year and the search process will be indefinitely suspended.
We all know it is a very trying time, but our management team is doing our very best to respond to the crisis. Along the guidance from the Governor, we anticipate the upcoming weeks to be our most trying weeks for our healthcare system and community. We will keep you abreast of how we continue to navigate our operations during this time and any updates that may be insightful for you as a supporter. We have seen an influx in Park users since the pandemic began, creating a demand on our walk-ways, trails, and open spaces. Our team is on the ground ensuring that we continue to maintain grounds, trash, and horticulture, to the best of our ability.
Now, and every day, parks are vital to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. City Park is one of the region’s treasures – it is the people’s Park. We are currently researching all public and private funding sources. You matter to us now more so than ever. We thought Katrina was our biggest challenge, but we were wrong, because of the length of time of the restrictions and the uncertainty around the shape of the recovery we will need private support like never before.
We ask that you help us keep the community’s collective health in mind through our resources and welcome the opportunity to discuss with you on how you can contribute. You can make a donation at any time by clicking here or by calling Casie Duplechain, our Chief Development Officer, at 504-415-7987.
New Orleans City Park is
distinguished by its large menu of sports and recreational activities,
attractions for families, and its natural beauty. City Park is a 90/10 Park.
Self-generated revenue makes up 90% of the $19.5 million annual operating
budget; City Park receives no general fund operating dollars from the city and
approximately $2 million annually from the state. City Park has a special place
in the hearts of generations of New Orleanians and is a must visit for visitors
to the city. The 1,300 acres of parkland provide enjoyment for people no matter
their age. City Park is home to the world’s largest collection of mature Live
Oak trees in the world.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is on the ballot on May 4,
On May 4th, the voters of New Orleans will vote on a ballot proposal for parks
and recreation that will affect the quality of life for all our citizens. They
will vote on the renewal and re-allocation of the current 6.31 millages already
dedicated to parks in the City. The re-allocation allows for a more equitable
distribution of the taxpayer dollars ALREADY supporting parks and recreation in
the City and includes City Park in that distribution for the first time in the
Which groups will benefit from
New Orleans City Park, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission
(NORDC), the Department of Parks and Parkways, and the Audubon Commission. The
collaborative effort was developed in partnership with Trust for Public Land, a
national leader in parks and recreation advocacy.
I’ve read this is not going to
increase my taxes. How is that possible?
This millage is a renewal and re-allocation of the current 6.31 millages
ALREADY allocated to park and recreation agencies. The proposal calls for
redistributing the funds currently devoted to Audubon Commission, New Orleans
Recreation Development Commission, and Parks and Parkways. The proposal calls
for half of Audubon Commission’s current millage allocation to be redistributed
to the other park agencies, including City Park in the allocation. All of the
park agencies collaborated closely with the Cantrell Administration to develop
a solution for a more equitable distribution of tax dollars WITHOUT asking the
voters for an increase.
What is the rationale behind
The reason is to provide sustainable and more equitably distributed funding for
maintenance, park safety, programming, and capital improvement. Our park system
is at significant risk of deterioration unless we act now.
What will happen if this millage
The impending loss of dedicated funding threatens to destabilize these
agencies, and negatively impact the safe access to parks, maintenance of
existing recreational assets, ongoing programming and the ability to provide
support for new programming for our children, families, and senior citizens.
Is it true this is the 1st time
City Park will receive city tax dollars?
This is the first time City Park would receive funding from city taxes.
How much is City Park receiving
if the millage is passed and when will City Park start receiving money?
The current estimate is the Park will receive approximately $2 million each of
the 20 years. The Park would begin receiving funds in 2021.
What will the money be spent on
in City Park?
Long deferred and much needed infrastructure upgrades (the majority of the
Park’s infrastructure was built in the WPA era), storm water management,
creation of a forest management programing, expanded programming, and increased
Where does City Park’s current
funding come from?
City Park is a 90/10 Park: 90% of the operations budget is self-generated
2019 FY Budget is $19.5M, of that, $1.8M is State support.
When is voting?
Early Voting April 20 – 27, 2019 / Vote Saturday, May 4, 2019
Where can I get more
Ashley Longshore Details: “Spring Bloom Audrey” with monarchs and gold leaf, acrylic paint and mixed media on canvas covered in a high gloss resin. 48″ x 48″ Value: $14,000
Hunt Slonem Details: untitled, 2014. Oil on wood. 38″ x 25″ framed Value: $17,500
David Harouni Details: untitled, 4′ x 5′ Value: $9,000
Avery Rowan Details: Marshland painting in metallic acrylic on paper, custom framed on linen 42″ x 23″ Title: “Passtimes” Value: $1,200
Mac Ball Details: 16.5″ x 12.5″, acrylic on panel. Title: Copse,Bitteroot Valley Value: $1,100
Alex Harvie Details: 30″ x 30″ live painting of the 2019 Heart of the Park Hat Luncheon Value: Priceless Image of artist below.
Cal-A-Vie Health Spa Details: 3 Night La Petite Spa Package for one guest. Includes three meals a day, king bed accommodations, 6 spa services, unlimited fitness classes, round trip transportation from San Diego Airport to Cal-A-Vie. Value: $4,950
Restrictions: Minimum ago of 18 years old. Available dates only. First time guests only. Non-transferable and not refundable for cash value.
Winner must present a certified check currently estimated at $8,553.54 based on current tax rates for income tax withholding by the close of business Wednesday, August 1, 2019 to receive the prize. Per the IRS, income tax withholding is 25% (federal) and 6% (state) of car value minus the $75 ticket wager.
Who We Are
Friends of City Park is a regional, non-profit organization whose mission is to maintain and increase the value of City Park as a place of natural beauty, culture, recreation and education for the public.
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