Volunteers Restore 100-Year-Old Carousel in New Orleans

Eight months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans still faces an enormous challenge in restoring houses, businesses and city landmarks. Government funds back much of the work, but private companies and citizen volunteers are also playing a role.

Restoring New Orleans is a process that often proceeds in small steps and part of what needs to be restored is the spirit of a wounded city. That is why Hampton hotels, through the company's "Save A Landmark" program, has donated $20,000 to support citizen efforts to restore the wooden carousel in City Park.

The carousel, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, was partly submerged in floodwaters last August and some of the wooden figures on the lower part were damaged. An expert in restoration of such material is now working with volunteers to reclaim the 54 painted wooden animals, half of which are fixed to the rotating platform and half of which are flyers, which go up and down on a pole as the carousel turns.

Among those overseeing the project is Beau Bassich, 80, the Executive Director of the City Park Improvement Association. Speaking to VOA by telephone from New Orleans, he explained the attraction this old amusement has for young and old alike.

"We had one of our band leaders say, 'Let the little kids use it during the daytime and let the big kids use it at nighttime,' which we do. We have dinners out here sometimes that people will put on for 400 people around in the carousel itself," he said.

Bassich says the carousel became an immediate attraction for New Orleans families as soon as it went into operation in 1906. He says generations of people have come to enjoy it since then and he hopes many more will after it is fully restored.

Also on hand at the park in New Orleans is popular culture historian and author of eight books on American landmarks Chris Epting. He says the restoration of this New Orleans landmark can have a powerful effect on the general effort to revitalize the city.

"So many people have come by and said, 'God, I was on that carousel when I was a kid, my kids were on it, my grandkids.' This place has meant so much to so many for so long that I think if you can get it going here, hopefully, it resonates," he noted.

This restoration project is also an example of how corporations are contributing to the city's recovery. When Mardi Gras organizers, for the first time ever, sought corporate sponsors for their parades and events in February, only one company, the Glad Bags company, came forward. But city officials say that was partly a result of a late start in seeking corporate help.

Hampton Hotels' Marketing Vice President Judy Christa-Cathey says she believes many more private companies will follow her company's lead in helping New Orleans get back on its feet.

"I think a lot of companies will start coming, identifying areas that resonate with their corporate mission, if they can help," she said.  "We have seen that in the past when Hampton has restored landmarks. We have actually seen other companies come forward and contribute additional efforts for other area landmarks. We have seen that type of synergism occur."

City officials say corporations have given significant support to projects to aid people displaced by Katrina and to carry on with the Jazz and Heritage Festival, which starts this weekend, and other events that draw people to the city and help with its economic recovery.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs