5) Zoo Hosts Party for Moms
For the 26th consecutive year, Audubon Zoo will host a Mother’s Day party on zoo grounds. Entertainment includes local R&B legend Irma Thomas and other New Orleans performers. There will be festival-style food and local jewelry artists displaying their wares. The party begins at 12:30 p.m. on Mother’s Day, May 10. Admission is free for mothers. For information, go to www.auduboninstitute.org.

4) Groundbreaking for Dog Park
Work gets underway this week to build a new area in City Park expressly for New Orleanians’ canine companions. The groundbreaking of NOLA City Bark, New Orleans’ first official dog park, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, at 10:30 a.m., at the future entrance just behind Popp Fountain in City Park, an area of the park that hasn’t seen much attention in recent years. Planning for the dog park has been led by a nonprofit called NOLA City Bark, which will continue to fund the park once operational. The 4.6-acre park is expected to open this fall with fountains, a walking path and facilities for animals and their owners.

3) Locals Up for Culinary Awards
Several New Orleans chefs will be vying for prestigious James Beard Foundation culinary awards at an event scheduled for today, May 4, while restaurateur Ella Brennan will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization. Brennan is matriarch of the famous restaurant family that operates Commander’s Palace. Sue Zemanick, chef at Gautreau’s, is a nominee for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award, Emeril’s Restaurant is nominated for the foundation’s Outstanding Service award and John Harris, chef-owner of Lilette, is in the running for the Best Chef: South award. Local food writers Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu are nominated for a James Beard Book Award for the cookbook they wrote together, "Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans," while the documentary "We Live to Eat: New Orleans’ Love Affair with Food" by local filmmaker Kevin McCaffrey is a nominee for a James Beard Broadcast Media Award. Awards will be presented at an event in New York, where New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse will preside as master of ceremonies.

2) Hearing on Impending Jefferson Trial
The long-awaited, often-delayed trial of former New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson takes another step toward beginning this week when attorneys and a judge meet for a pre-trial status hearing on Friday. One issue under consideration this week is what jury members will be allowed to hear among the reams of recordings the FBI made of conversations between Jefferson and others involved in the case in 2005. Jefferson’s defense attorneys suggested to U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III that the Justice Department has edited the recordings to give a misleading impression of their client’s actions. The trial is scheduled to begin May 26 in Alexandria, Va.

1) Commencement of First Post-Katrina College Classes
Local college graduations this week will honor the first classes of students to matriculate post-Katrina. For some of these students, freshmen orientation and other welcome activities were cut short by the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, but despite the tremendous upheaval of the disaster many did return to continue their education and help rebuild New Orleans. Dillard University, Southern University of New Orleans and Xavier University all hold their commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 9, while others are scheduled for the following week. Xavier’s ceremony generated controversy on the news that Archbishop Alfred Hughes would not attend the event because he objects to the university’s choice of featured speakers, Donna Brazile, a national political strategist and Georgetown University professor who supports abortion rights for women.