By HENRY PRIMEAUX III
BIG EASY RISING ART: It has been my honor to work with Oklahoma artist Mike Wimmer over the years. After the hurricane and flood in New Orleans, I asked him to try to capture what the city has been through, showing the Big Easy in ruins and its potential comeback. This drawing, appropriately called “Big Easy Rising,??? is the result. Mike has spent some time in New Orleans, which helped him get a feel for the work. Among the depictions are the city’s indigenous African American Indians in Mardi Gras costumes, the famous Bourbon Street, street signs of Dauphine and Reynes Streets (I went to high school at Holy Cross on Reynes), tragedy and comedy masks of New Orleans and the Mardi Gras, Pete Fountain playing his coronet and also marching in the parade with me and my best friend Arthur Hickman, the crescent for the resilient Crescent City, Jackson Square, the Superdome, a river boat and downtown New Orleans. As usual, Mike created a superb work. Full scale reproductions as well as posters will be offered as a fund-raising source for Big Easy Rising. The Big Easy Rising artwork will be available at the SpiritBank 18th and Baltimore location in Tulsa. Please see our Web site, bigeasyrising.org for more information.
MICHELLE WEEKS, Tulsa People
I am happy to report that our Web site, www.bigeasyrising.org, is up and running to help support our nonprofit 501©(3) Oklahoma foundation, Big Easy Rising, Inc. Please check out this site to learn more about our nonprofit organization and the need to help small businesses impacted by Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flooding.
While I love my adopted hometown of Tulsa, I also have a deep love and commitment for my original hometown of New Orleans, and I was moved by the devastation generated by Hurricane Katrina.
Initial funding for the foundation began through a partnership of my wife, Jane, and myself and SpiritBank. Big Easy Rising bracelets with the three colors of Mardi Gras (green, gold and purple) have been created and are being sold for $3 each. In addition to bracelet sales, donations are being raised through individuals and corporations. Also, Mike Wimmer’s painting, described in this column, will be part of our fund-raising efforts.
Amazing as it may seem, Mardi Gras will be held this year in New Orleans, and Jane and I are going!
This year’s Mardi Gras is February 28. Not everything will be completely normal in New Orleans, but the spirit will be alive.
The city first celebrated Mardi Gras, a period of carnivals, masquerade balls and parades that leads up to the Christian penitence season of Lent, in 1837.
Mardi Gras normally generates $1 billion of spending in New Orleans and draws more than 6 million visitors. The city reduced this year’s event to 10 days from 14 and decided to skip three of 34 traditional parades.
Only 11 percent of businesses in the city have opened amid the post-Katrina cleanup, according to reports I have read.
I hear that about 21,000 of the 28,000 hotel rooms in downtown New Orleans are available to visitors. The other 7,000 remain off the market because of damage from Katrina or because relief and recovery workers are using them, according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Who says that Tulsa isn’t a very good sports town? On a recent Saturday evening, TU and ORU men’s basketball teams and the Tulsa Oilers hockey team were all at home. The combined attendance for the three events was close to 18,000 fans.
Speaking of TU, congratulations to the Golden Hurricane football team for the Liberty Bowl win over Fresno State. TU fans took Beale Street and Memphis by storm and had a great time. The Memphis hospitality was excellent. We look forward to more football excitement next year.
Remembering Ed Lacy
Tulsa lost a great man with the recent passing of former Booker T. Washington head football coach and educator Ed Lacy.
In 17 years of coaching Booker T. Washington athletics, Mr. Lacy earned the respect of his players and his teams became a source of pride in this community. His football teams won five state championships in 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1973.
Education always came before athletics for Mr. Lacy. Long before there were statistics to back him up, he believed that extra-curricular activities kept students interested in high school. The enormous numbers of college athletic scholarships his students have earned prove that athletics are a means to further education as well.
He was a great man, and we will miss him very much!
We wish everybody the best in health and happiness throughout the new year, and, if you’re out and about, cruise on down old Route 66 or I-44 and see us at Crown Bristow at 910 South Roland. We’ll be happy to visit, and we’ll beat any deal!