Nearly 350 volunteers from the tourism industry will convene in Louis Armstrong Park today in a cleanup event orchestrated by Tourism Cares, an organization that brings together the travel and tourism industry to give back to its communities. Illustrating Tourism Cares’ commitment to help retool New Orleans’ cultural fabric, the cleanup recognizes the legacy and dignity of Louis Armstrong and all of the jazz greats who honed their skills performing along the African-American Jazz Corridor: Storyville to the Eagle Saloon on N. Rampart St.
The scenic and historic Louis Armstrong Park has been left largely untouched since Hurricane Katrina, and its famed lighted archway has remained dark. Tourism Cares volunteers will be involved in painting, pressure washing and general clean up of the 33-acre site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will officially unveil the restored statue of New Orleans’ jazz legend Louis Armstrong in a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on April 18.
The effort of volunteers to repair this site not only restores its physical appearance; it also helps the local community reconnect with one of its most important cultural touchstones. This is especially meaningful now leading up to the annual New Orleans Jazz Festival.
“Louis Armstrong Park, and specifically Congo Square within, represents what some say is the single most important location of African-American heritage in our country — truly hallowed ground — the legacy of which must be preserved for generations to come,” said Bruce Beckham, executive director, Tourism Cares. “Rejuvenating this essential tourist and community landmark will help the city’s ongoing outreach efforts to bring visitors back to New Orleans.”
The History of Louis Armstrong Park Louis Armstrong Park plays a significant role in the history of New Orleans, particularly African-American history and the development of jazz music. In the 1800s, the park’s Congo Square — now listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was an open meeting place on Sundays for African Americans, both enslaved and free. The space was used to market goods, socialize, and participate in drumming, music making, and dance. The park, named after New Orleans’ “favorite son,” holds both the Municipal Auditorium and the Mahalia Jackson Center for the Performing Arts.
How Tourism Cares for America Works
During a Tourism Cares for America clean-up event, travel and tourism industry colleagues work side-by-side — regardless of their official titles — with the visible improvement of the site as their common goal. The impact is far-reaching — projects such as this increase visitor confidence in an area, aiding the economy and sparking further acts of responsible tourism.
The work of Tourism Cares not only helps restore important tourism sites, but promotes responsible, sustainable tourism and “voluntourism” — travel focused on doing good. The efforts of Tourism Cares have begun to compel others to act, and the organization is emerging as the umbrella for a speedily growing segment of industry activism.
The Tourism Cares for America project in New Orleans includes association sponsors such as ASTA, ABA, CLIA, NBTA, NTA, SITE, SYTA, TIA UMA and USTOA. Corporate sponsors include Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine, Collette Vacations, the New Orleans Metropolitan CVB, Valentino French Quarter Hotels, Amtrak, Performance Media Group, Sheraton New Orleans, Silversea Cruises, Amadeus, The Berkely Group, Globus, Go Picnic, Louisiana Coaches, Louisiana Office of Tourism, MaCher, Marriott International, Mohegan Sun, Photo Vision, Orbitz, Wyndham Worldwide and Valspar, the latter of which provided paint for the entire project.
Next year, Tourism Cares will be hosting their annual clean-up event in Gettysburg, Pa. This is the place where 165,000 soldiers met to fight for their beliefs. It is the place where Abraham Lincoln helped mend a torn nation with his Gettysburg Address, and the place where millions have stood to reflect on the importance of the events that occurred there. Since the smoke cleared from the Battlefield in 1863, Gettysburg has been a must-see for every American. And with the transformation that is occurring on this hallowed ground, this national landmark must be seen again. Tourism Cares is excited to be a part of this transformation hosted by the Gettysburg Foundation in April 2009.
Tourism Cares is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity that mobilizes the travel and tourism industry to give back to society through grants to natural, cultural and historic sites worldwide; through academic and service-learning scholarships for students of hospitality and tourism; and through the organization of volunteer efforts to clean up and restore tourism-related sites in need of care and rejuvenation. For additional information about Tourism Cares, please visit http://www.tourismcares.org .
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