Cooler weather, falling leaves and pumpkin-flavored everything indicates the holiday season is just around the corner. Along with these benchmarks come traditions which inspire new memories. Friends and families come together to reminisce about times gone by, while colleagues celebrate with luncheons and gift exchanges. The Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) also has its own unique history of community engagement during the holiday season — namely the Holiday Marketplace.
While the moniker might make it sound like this is just another Christmas bazaar, the history of the marketplace proves it is so much more. Over the years, JLNO has showcased the marketplace through community outreach events including preview parties, fun runs and concerts.
In 1993, the women of JLNO chose the theme Jingle Bell Rock and Shop ‘til You Drop for the Holiday Marketplace. A Preview Party was held where a live auction included a trip to Chicago, complete with hotel, airfare and “tickets … for a Cubs game (that’s baseball!) with box seats right behind home plate.” Entertainment at the Preview Party was provided by none other than Deacon John.
Holiday revelers were also invited to participate in a 5k race through uptown New Orleans, made possible through a partnership with the Greater New Orleans Runners Association and Southern Runner. It was billed as a way to “get in shape for the shopping extravaganza” that boasted over 60 vendors. Adding to the festivities, the League hosted a post-race dance at the American Legion Hall with live entertainment by Broadcast. Race entrants were awarded free entrance to the marketplace that year, which offered “specialty shops, craftsmen, entertainment, demonstrations, [a] café and special events.”
Media advertisement took center stage for the Holiday Marketplace in 1994. League member, the late Brennan Baumer, orchestrated attention-grabbing advertisements such as walking billboards and marquis displays at both the Superdome and Galleria to advertise the line-up of events. JLNO’s community partners in the hospitality industry helped get the word out by dispersing flyers to the traveling public. Post-race entertainment for that year’s Fun Run was the always-engaging Benny Grunch and the Bunch, well before their “12 Yats of Christmas” success. The Preview Party was hosted by the New Orleans Marriott, where party goers enjoyed shopping, dining, live music but perhaps best of all, “complimentary photos by Radiophone.”
As the 2019 holiday season approaches, so does another year of JLNO’s Holiday Marketplace. JLNO looks forward to the continuation of this time-honored event, as well as the expansion of the experiences surrounding this festive occasion, all of which contribute to the legacy of this annual tradition that remains a favorite among League members. Happy Holidays!