With 1300 acres of lush open spaces and dense forests, criss-crossed by a network of ancient waterways, trails, pathways, and bridges, New
Orleans City Park is one of the nation’s premier urban sanctuaries. CITY PARK MEMORIES debuted on WYES Wednesday, August 15 at 7:00 p.m. The documentary traces 150 years of park history from its use by Native American tribes to its present day enjoyment by generations of New Orleanians.
“That it has done what it has done takes your breath away,” says long-time park supporter Angela Hill of WWLTV.”
Local musician and puppeteer Harry Mayronne is equally enthusiastic. “It’s like stepping back in time and being a child again, and I love that.”
Nostalgic trips through Storyland capture the pure joy of childhood. Climbing inside the Blue Whale’s mouth and seeing live fish, ducking through the original entrance of the Old Lady’s Shoe, and climbing up the winding staircase of Old King Cole’s castle, these fairytale characters may have been altered slightly, but they continue to delight the visitor. Beau Bassich, the Executive Director of the City Park Improvement Association, shares his perspective on the carousel with its 54 historic “Flying Horses.”
The stories behind City Park’s iconic architectural landmarks: the Peristyle, Popp Bandstand, and the Casino offer a fascinating look back at late 18th, and early 19th century lifestyles. The 1930-1940s era influence of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, is evident throughout the park. Artist Enrique Alferez’s Art Deco sculptures are highlights of the Botanical Garden. Alferez’s creative genius spanned both small scale and larger scale formats. “The last big bronze piece he did was called the “Flute Player,” and he was about 96 years-old when he did that, says admirer, Paul Soniat, the Director of the Botanical Gardens.
CITY PARK MEMORIES is there for the park’s signature events: Celebration in the Oaks, Lark in the Park, the Twilight Concert series, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Symphony concert under the stars. Sporting activities and venues are also highlighted. Races such as the Crescent City Classic, golf, tennis, soccer, horseback riding, football, rugby, Frisbee, Tad Gormley and Pan American stadiums, are all part of the City Park story. And recently completed venues such as the Goldring/Woldenberg Great Lawn, Big Lake, City Bark, offer new opportunities to enjoy the park.
The Dueling Oaks, the haunting by the “Moaning Lisa,” “The Great Monkey Escapade,” thecontroversial Archer, and the saga of miniature golf which will soon make a long-awaited return, are a few of the interesting twists and turns profiled in this hour-long documentary.
Produced, Directed, and Written by Barbara Sillery. Edited by Larry Roussarie. Narrated by Executive Producer Peggy Scott Laborde with additional narration by Andrés Calandria. Special musical selections by Paul Soniat, Director of the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in City Park, from the album “Born In New Orleans.”