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New Orleans Top Stories This Week, May 18-22

5) Wine Festival Time, 4) Bayou Festivals Celebrate Music and Heritage, 3) Account Due on Playground Progress, 2) Corps Pumping Plans, 1) Super Bowl Picks

5) Wine Festival Time
The five-day New Orleans Wine and Food Experience gets started on Tuesday, May 19. More than 175 winemakers and thousands of wine lovers will be in town for the wine and food celebration, which continues through Saturday. The event includes vintner dinners hosted at restaurants around town, the Royal Street Stroll block party, a charity wine auction, grand tastings in the Louisiana Superdome with samples from winemakers and local chefs, seminars and other wine-oriented events. New this year is a gala event inside Harrah’s Casino with celebrity chefs from around the country. Tickets are required and proceeds benefit culinary education programs. More information is at www.nowfe.com

4) Bayou Festivals Celebrate Music and Heritage
A pair of annual festivals this weekend should draw thousands to different sites along Bayou St. John. The Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo returns this Friday and Saturday, May 22-23, on the banks of the bayou near Orleans Avenue, featuring two music stages, vendors from the local art markets, activities for the kids and food and beverages from local restaurants. Admission is free. For more information, go to www.thebayouboogaloo.com. Just up the bayou in Lakeview, Holy Trinity Cathedral hosts the 36th Annual Greek Festival with traditional Greek food, music and crafts. The festival starts Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. and continues Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. on each of those days. For more information, go to www.greekfestnola.com.

3) Account Due on Playground Progress

The status of city playgrounds and recreational facilities will be in the spotlight this Friday, May 22, as FEMA and New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) officials are expected to give a City Council committee an update on their progress on repairs. In March, the committee learned that City Hall had some $13 million in uncommitted funds for recreation repair while many of the city’s playgrounds remained closed due to Katrina flood damage. NORD officials said at the time they were in a dispute with FEMA over the true cost of rebuilding some 161 properties.

2) Corps Pumping Plans
The Army Corps of Engineers this week will outline its plans to build drainage canal pumping structures in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish and the impacts of its proposed locations for pumping stations at the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals. Problems with pumping stations and retaining walls for drainage canals led to much of the flooding in the area after Hurricane Katrina, and the Corps’ new plans are intended to make them more effective. The plans will be discussed during a public meeting on Wednesday, May 20, at St. Dominic’s Church, 6363 Memphis St. in New Orleans. An open house begins at 6 p.m., with a presentation at 7 p.m.
1) Super Bowl Picks
The Saints’ chances of making the Super Bowl in 2013 are anyone’s guess, but New Orleans should find out this week if the city will host the NFL’s championship game that year. NFL owners are meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. from today to May 20 and are expected to vote on the host city for the 2013 game. New Orleans is in the running against Phoenix and south Florida for the game, which can bring hundreds of millions in corporate and visitor spending and tremendous media exposure. The Super Bowl was last played in New Orleans in 2002.

Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at imcnulty@cox.net.

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