Bouncin’ into the City
Just a couple weeks after Mardi Gras comes to an end, the city will experience another big boom in tourism as basketball fans from around the globe will flock to the New Orleans Arena on Feb. 17, for the NBA 57th annual All-Star Game.

The New Orleans Arena will be hopping as some of the biggest basketball stars today play in a nationally televised game. But it’s not just the game that will please fans; Feb. 14-17, there will be parties and amusing competitions. One of the most popular attractions, the All-Star Jam session, is the world’s largest interactive basketball theme park, 450,000 square feet of basketball for fans of the game. Fans are invited to test their skills and learn fun facts about players and even compare shoe sizes with favorite players!

Information, (800) 4-NBA-TIX, www.nba.com, www.ticketmaster.com or visit the New Orleans Arena Box Office.



Intriguing Italia
This month the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will host “Una Festa d’Italia,” celebrating the Italian influence on the city. The fun begins on Feb. 22, with a concert at Tulane’s McAlister auditorium featuring select works by Italian composers such as Puccini, Toscanini, Rossini, Pavarotti and Verdi. The next day, you can head downtown to check out more Italian influences – street performers and musicians will be downtown, while Saks Fifth Avenue will display a variety of beauty products. Rubensteins will be featuring Italian fashions and Adler’s will showcase Italian jewelry. Plus, Harrah’s and lots of local restaurants will be dishing Italian cuisine as part of the celebration.
The grand finale will be the “Festa d’Italia Ball” at the Foundry with yet another performance with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. This weekend event is a joint effort between the Italian Consulate, the LPO and a variety of Italian American organizations.
Information, 523-6530, www.lpomusic.com.

Freret Frolic
Though it’s normally held on the first Saturday of the month, The Freret Market will be held on Feb. 9 this month due to Carnival festivities. The market often draws around 75 vendors offering food, art and various crafts of all kinds. Participating restaurants this month will include La Divina Gelateria, Superior Grill and Meals from the Heart. Some of the highlighted flea market vendors are Renee Allie, Ze Dalez and Cree McCree. In addition, live music from Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives, among others, will delight viewers. The Freret Market is a public market located at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue in the city-owned parking lot from noon until 5 p.m. And, here’s a cool fact: Ed Blakely, Recovery Czar, announced last year that the Freret Market will be one of the major recovery projects for the city. With local support, the market can thrive and help the area become an important presence for Uptown.

Information, 638-2589, www.freretmarket.org.

Cleanin’ Up With Jokes
Southern Rep’s latest play, The Clean House, is a heartwarming performance touching upon domesticity and relationships. Lane simply wants a clean house but her maid Mathilde is more of a writer type. Lane’s sister Virginia starts cleaning the house (on the sly) and all is smooth or so it seems, until Lane’s husband leaves her for an older woman. The play shows that there’s always more than meets the eye and our lives and relationships aren’t as squeaky clean as we’d like them to be. Performances will run Feb. 20-March 16. Written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Aimee Hayes, The Clean House was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
Information, 522-6545, www.southernrep.com.

O-Mazing Race
Scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids anymore. The Kohlmeyer Circle of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art are putting on the second annual O-Mazing Race, an interactive hunt that gives participants a chance to explore different parts of the city for charity (via horsedrawn carriage!) In short, it’s a quest to explore the city and for a good cause too! Be prepared to search for all things local – it might be something as big as a steamboat or as mysterious as a secret garden or a ghost. The carriages will accommodate six participants – but hurry! Space is limited and you’ll have to make a reservation. Tickets to the after party, a fun-filled, Southern soiree, are also available.
Information, 539-9616, www.ogdenmuseum.org.

Helluva Hullabaloo
Feb. 22 will mark the return of the Tulane baseball team as it starts a fresh new season, in a brand new stadium to boot.

The three game series against the University of Illinois-Chicago, will be exciting, as the opponent made it to the post-season in 2007. The new stadium will feature seating for more than 4,500 shouting fans. It also boasts more chairback seating, expanded bathroom and concession areas and a fan plaza. Four luxury suites are available as well as a press box. (It’s so great, in fact that it’s been chosen as the spot for the 2008 C-USA tournament!)
Information, 861-WAVE, www.tulanegreenwave.com

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