On a stately Southern-style Colonial balcony, several generations of a tightly knit family gather during Carnival season. Jerry W. Kelly Sr. and his wife, Marilyn, reside in the home, along with his mother. The Kellys’ children and grandchildren can often be spotted in the spacious front yard or above on the grand balcony.
And while the Kellys and their guests may be looking at the parades this year, the krewe members may be looking back up at them –– because their balcony itself is a sight to behold.
Jerry estimates the balcony can fit 50 to 60 people at a time. It serves a trio of purposes: relaxation, happy hours and entertaining, though the latter receives a special emphasis this time of year. Later this month, the family will transform it into a true Mardi Gras venue, with an official Carnival flag breezing over the center and a multitude of colored lights.
Of course, the family and their friends will be able to catch plenty of throws from the merry revelers.
Fans and heaters are set up on the balcony as well in order to accommodate the changing temperatures, and the balcony offers plenty
of seating in the form of wicker furniture.
Often, Jerry says, evenings on the balcony begin at 4 p.m. and extend until well after dark. “It has become a real hot spot,” he remarks fondly. “We use the balcony on a daily basis.” •
A Victorian Vantage
Some balconies downtown are hot spots for partying and throwing beads to tourists, but beyond the party scene of Bourbon Street and adjacent to the echoing music of the more bohemian Frenchmen Street sits a house on a quiet block of Dauphine Street in the Marigny Triangle. Although it’s between two popular areas, the street offers peace and quiet for Mike and Brenda Moffit, who live in a green Victorian house with purple trim.
One of the couple’s favorite features of their townhouse is the balcony, which is located off of the master bedroom and overlooks the street.
With the wooden newels, spindles and rails that are typical of late Victorian design, the balcony is used primarily for relaxation and intimate gatherings with friends. Mike estimates that the balcony seats four to six people, and it offers a peaceful ambiance away from the busier areas of their neighborhood.
To the right of the balcony is a view of the New Orleans skyline, and to the left is a 19th-century streetscape that Mike says is “charming.”
It’s also a great venue to observe and listen to the neighborhood chatter. Says Mike, who is very active in the arts scene with Brenda: “We use the balcony for nightcaps, enjoying the street scene and unwinding. It puts us in a state of bliss.” •
Stargazing and Streetcars
Designer Jon Vaccari and his partner, Steve Fleming, along with their 2-year-old son, Gio, invite friends over to their scenic spot on St. Charles Avenue and Fourth Street to take in the sights of the parades –– their favorite is Muses –– and revelry this month.
Because it’s high off the ground, Vaccari believes that being on the balcony is like “being on a float but standing still. It’s part of the scene without being too involved,” he says of the location, which is on the opposite side of the avenue as the parades.
Comfortably fitting 15 to 20 guests, the balcony is classically elegant with a wooden deck and ornate cast-iron railings. It’s also conveniently located off of the upstairs sitting room, so guests can step inside and take a break if they please.
Originally built in 1857, the house has been owned by Vaccari and Fleming for the past three years. It’s officially named the Grima House, and it was once a property of the Louisiana Landmarks Society. “People take pictures of it all the time,” says Vaccari.
During the quieter months, Vaccari and Fleming enjoy stargazing on the balcony. Gio has also recently taken a liking to living in one of the most coveted spots in town.
Able to recognize the clanging on the tracks, “he runs out to the balcony when he hears the streetcars,” says Vaccari. After all, no one is ever too young to be in love with the city. •