Tuesday, December 8, 2015 –
This past weekend was all about Christmas, with family and our church family.
New Orleans is absolutely the place to be for the Christmas season. In the Mid City area of New Orleans is the most amazing central
city park we’ve ever seen. Here’s just a bit about City Park. It should be high on the list of “must see” places in New Orleans for all RVers and anyone who travels.
It is a 1,300 acre public park, the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States. City Park is approximately 50% larger than Central Park in New York City. City Park is very unusual in that it is a largely self-supporting public park, with most of its annual budget derived from self-generated revenue through user fees and donations. Enormous damage was done to the park by Hurricane Katrina and has taken years to recover. City Park holds the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some older than 600 years in age. The park was founded in 1854, making it one of the oldest parks in the country, and established as the “City Park” in 1891.
City Park is a large part of my growing up years and I plan to write a blog soon sharing more about why everyone should visit here. For today I’m going to share our family outing to City Park and the annual Celebration in the Oaks there.
The following information is from their website:
Celebration in the Oaks in City Park is one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country, with more than 165,000 visitors pouring into the park to see the magical winter spectacle. City Park’s famous oaks are swathed in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and breathtaking light displays are scattered throughout 25 acres of the Park, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens.
New Orleans’ mild winter weather and City Park’s stunning natural landscape, with its oak groves, moss-covered cypresses and meandering lagoons, make Celebration in the Oaks a truly unique holiday event. This beloved annual celebration is fun for all ages and has become an enduring holiday tradition for families, who come to Celebration in the Oaks to ride the train or carousel every year. Visitors are treated to a wide range of attractions, from light displays to the walkways lined with dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school groups. Perennial favorites include the two-mile train ride through glittering light exhibits, the animated Cajun night before Christmas display, and of course, New Orleans’ iconic snowman Mr. Bingle – a holiday character beloved by generations of New Orleanians.
Mr. Bingle will also get his own blog post soon!
Roy and I visited City Park Saturday with Chip, Madisyn, Misty, Kallie, Haylee and Pam! Even though I was born and raised in New Orleans we’ve never been to Celebration in the Oaks but it will hopefully become an annual family tradition!
We started the day by walking through a bit of the park along the ponds feeding ducks, enjoying the beauty of the park and sitting atop one of the City Park Lions (cement lion the girls are waving from). When I was a child my father brought me to City Park to the colliseum attached to the lions where I could roller skate on the large cement floor there.
This was followed by enjoying coffee/milk and beignets. Whats a beignet?? Beignets are commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top (actually LOADED with powdered sugar on top). They are traditionally prepared right before consumption to be eaten fresh and hot. Beignets just scream New Orleans Cuisine and should always be enjoyed by everyone visiting the area. We enjoyed our beignets and Cafe au Lait at “Morning Call” Coffee Stand located within City Park. Their sister coffee stand is known as Cafe du Monde, both of which now have multiple locations throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area. The original is down in the French Quarter and most every youngun growing up in New Orleans remembers early morning, mid day or late night visits there with their parents. Beignets are typically served with either Cafe au Lait (coffee with cream) or milk. My favorite growing up was beignets with chocolate milk.
Morning Call and Cafe du Monde are old New Orleans traditions. The hats and coats worn by the waiters are part of the tradition. The businesses may be called Coffee Stands but they are actually very large buildings with indoor and outdoor eating areas. In true New Orleans style we were serenaded with some Jazz by two men outside Morning Call. The interiors have these beautifully lit signs saying the name of the coffee stand.
One thing to know about beignets is that exhaling your breath on them causes the powdered sugar to go all around. That’s some of the fun of eating them other than their scrumptious flavor!
From our beignet event we went over to a play area (which there are several of within the park) so the youngest two girls could play off some of that powdered sugar!
While the girls were playing us adults got to enjoy seeing all the runners and walkers, many dressed in Christmas fun wear, participating in the Celebration in the Oaks Fun Run/Walk. It’s a 2 mile event with hundreds of participants. The park was even busier than usual with all the run/walkers but the event brought even more activities for the kids surrounding the end of the walk. I may have said there is hot chocolate everywhere but there was free hot chocolate at the end of the run/walk for everyone!
There was more to our day in City Park and I’ll share that in the next blog. Time to wrap this one up for the day and get on with other things!
Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!