When not juggling working in home offices and remote school lessons while under “stay-at-home” orders, I watched friends jump into various activities – gardening, bread making, Netflix bingeing, cooking, puzzling, reading, etc. – they never seemed to find time for in busy pre-social isolation days. But the common denominator in recalibrated schedules was the extra amount of outdoor time enjoyed. With the beautiful spring, many New Orleanians found reprieve from their homes as well as a boost to their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing by getting outside to visit and exercise in local parks. Not surprisingly, New Orleans City Park became a popular destination for these escapes.
You may know City Park has over 1,300-acres, is approximately 50 percent larger than New York City’s Central Park and its 20,000 trees make it home to the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. You have also likely noticed that since Hurricane Katrina the park has rebuilt, added world-class recreation and cultural facilities and improved the level of care and stewardship of their grounds and forest.
There is truly something for all ages and interests in the park, whether it’s strolling through the Botanical Garden, playing a round at City Putt, admiring the expanded Besthoff Sculpture Garden, exploring renovated Storyland, biking the Big Lake trail or just relaxing in the open green spaces.
What you may not know is that 90 percent of City Park’s revenue is based on activities that occur in the park – they receive no city and meager state funding. Despite developing a robust financial reserve post-Katrina currently being significantly drained for maintenance, the mandated COVID-19 closure of park activities for several months is projected to cause a loss of up to $4.7 million by June 30 – a staggering 24 percent of their overall budget. The park prudently cut expenditures, negotiated contracts and reduced salaries – but those actions alone won’t be enough to make up for the loss.
The City Park team has loved seeing hoards of New Orleanians enjoying their time in the park recently (while practicing proper safety protocols, of course!) and has been working tirelessly to ensure the park stays as beautiful and clean as ever. “The park’s natural spaces have provided a critical place to relax, recreate and rejuvenate during this difficult time. With the attractions opening in the park, I hope people will continue to enjoy our trails, wildlife habitats and quiet spots, which are truly priceless” says City Park Board Member Carro Gardner.
Inspirational community support of more than 800 individuals is helping fund park operations, including everything from protecting ground oaks, to planting flowers, maintaining the grounds, mowing the grass and much more. However, there’s still great need for financial support. As a thank you, for any contribution made donors will receive a packet of City Park’s wildflower seeds. Just think, a donation will brighten your own yard and brighten the future of the park! In order to make a donation, visit NewOrleansCityPark.com/donate. City Park has been here for us since 1850, so let’s be there for it!
A little more…
Only 750 tickets will be sold at $75 for a chance to win a 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Premium donated by Bryan Subaru with proceeds benefiting Friends of City Park. A virtual drawing will be held on July 22. Purchase tickets at FriendsOfCityPark.com or call 483-9376.