Back together again! We are very excited to be back to our old tricks. After visiting family in Florida, we made our way on a Greyhound bus, in the middle of the night to New Orleans. We were told French Quarter Festival (FQF) is one not to miss, so we rented a place for a month here in order to give and get the most we can.
French Quarter Fest encompasses what we love about New Orleans. Twenty-three stages throughout the streets and parks in the Quarter showing off the foundation of the city with amazing food, vibrant community, and of course, music. The musicians, sponsors, and volunteers continue to make it a fundraiser along with the sale of merchandise and drinks.
We walked every day to the festival along the Mississippi River from the Bywater. We could hear the music dancing across the river. There is always music in the streets but this was different. The funky jazz music we love so much echoed over a mile away. The birds seemed to sing in tune with it and the logs floating down the river bobbed as if dancing to the beat.
We have been looking forward to this volunteer opportunity. Working with children on our spontaneous road trip has been difficult. Months before volunteering today we completed an email interview explaining why we wanted to work with children. It gave the festival time to do criminal and background checks, too. Upon checking in we received $10 for food and drinks each, as well as a t-shirt. We went right for a Zatarains po-boy and dirty rice fritters. It was important for us to fill our bellies before spending the next few hours with kids.
We headed over to the Hermann-Grima house first where they had educational programming for families in the courtyard. After manning a quiet booth for a while promoting summer camps, we were needed in the Chevron STEAM Zone.
was alive with energy! Kids of all ages were welcome, along with their families. There were a lot of activities to take part in including science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Being it is the National Parks Service 100th anniversary, it was no surprise they had a large presence. There was a ranger in full uniform playing with the band when we arrived. We were happily given the task of helping kids create the life cycle of an oak tree with play dough. It was so much fun relating our love for nature and teaching kids. The pure joy on their faces when they completed the project was priceless. It was a huge learning experience and amusing to play the part of teacher. Being able to help give them confidence for the rest of their day is something we will cherish. A mother leaned over and thanked us for smiling. She said it meant a lot to see us on the other side of the table happy in what we were doing. This is because we love what we are doing. We have waited over a year for the right gig in helping children.
The next day we arrived at the Abita Stage (one of our local favorites- Abita Strawberry) and were showered with Zapp’s chips. We bounced from stage to stage listening to the music of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Mason Ruffner and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. After six hours of free music, we left for alligator po-boys at Daisy Duke’s.
Saturday we woke to a trumpet player practicing along the river which got us excited for day 3. The festival was so packed but the music was our favorite. We danced to Bonerama as a boat cruised by shooting red, white, and blue water in the air. The last band of the night was Flow Tribe, a band we saw two years ago at Jazz Fest. They were high energy, dressed to the nines, and a lot of fun.
The final day of French Quarter fest was another sunny, beautiful day in Nola. We
met our friends, Maureen and Lester, who also volunteer every year at the festival. We decided to start the day at the World’s Largest Balloon Festival inside the Hilton.
As Maureen put it, “If you weren’t happy going in you are definitely happy when leaving!” The colors, characters, and displays were mind blowing. They even had
high fashion dresses we contemplated how to wear.
We are blessed to have been given this opportunity which was a perfect fit; helping
kids, listening to local music, and stuffing our faces with home cooked food all at –
FRENCH QUARTER FESTIVAL 2016.