By: Marie Turner – New Orleans Cultural Advisor
Sycamore Canyon PTSA sponsored its first ever Culture at the Garden event for a U.S. city. We selected the city of New Orleans, famous for its rich history and culture, jazz music, and delicious and unique food specialties.
In anticipation of the world famous Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) holiday of March 13, 2018, Culture at the Garden – New Orleans took place one day early on February 12, or Lundi Gras. Children and adults alike were able to feel what it is like to partake in this celebration that is the culmination of Carnival Season. This eagerly awaited event had an
attendance of over 660 K-6 participants.
Those who made the trek out to the garden had various opportunities to learn about New Orleans and Mardi Gras. As kids entered the garden, they each received a pair of beads to wear around their neck to get them in the Mardi Gras spirit. A beautiful and colorful Mardi Gras mural provided eye candy, and Dixieland jazz music performed by the local Conejo Valley Mad Hatters Jazz Band drew people in with lively New Orleans classics such as When the Saints Go Marching In. The “shotgun” architecture table featured mock shotgun houses demonstrating this historic house design in New Orleans. The New Orleans Lingo area featured terms and expressions (many in French) commonly used in the city. New Orleans Story Time had volunteers, including a native New Orleanian, reading New Orleans-themed picture books to grades K-3. Who’s Who provided a guessing game with facts about famous people from or residing in New Orleans and their photo underneath revealing each person’s identity (i.e., Ellen DeGeneres, Louis Armstrong, the Manning brothers). At the Taste of New Orleans area, children could sample not one, but two, famous N.O. food items: red beans and rice and king cake! Samples of New Orleans packaged food items were also on display. The wildly popular History of Mardi Gras table had a vibrant display with mock floats, pictures of parades and Mardi Gras revelers, costumes, masks, and Mardi Gras trivia for the kids to earn prizes. The PTSA-sponsored Lunch Lab demonstrated the science of hurricanes that allowed children to build houses using paper, tape, cardboard, and scissors, then using a wind blower to test their construction to simulate a hurricane. This was a great STEAM activity! As the event came to a close for students, a few members of the jazz band and a volunteer holding a second line umbrella led them out with a “second line” dance, and kids waved tissues in celebration. Upon exiting, volunteers offered children the popular Mardi Gras parade throw of a doubloon before heading back to their classrooms.
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
SCS PTSA Garden Project would like to express sincere appreciation to the following individuals and organizations:
- Marie Turner – New Orleans Cultural Advisor
- Planning Committee: Marie Turner, Andrea Feagan, Jen Lunney, Marivic Marko, Subha Tholudur, Nicole Twyman
- Chef, Baker, Artists: Marivic Marko, Tina Mintz, María Pas Varas, Jodi Bobb
- Mad Hatters Jazz Band
- Lunch Lab
- SCS Parent Volunteers: Janice Ahumada, Alicia Andrae, Liz Armstrong, Darshana Bhamre, Judy Caples, Johanna Duc, Namrata Dutta, Andrea Feagan, Imelda Fuentes, Stacy Gleason, Samatha Gummadi, Puja Kaushik, Alex Lagrave, Jinju Lee, Jen Lunney, Kevin Lunney, Caroline Malouf, Marivic Marko, Tina Mintz, Heidi Nielsen, Jean Sawitzky, Winnie Sitarz, Sebastian Sitarz, Subha Tholudur, Archana Timmaraju, Nicole Twyman, Eszter Zubovics.
- Community Volunteer: Nicole Comeaux, Millie Ward
Photos By: Caroline Malouf, Stacy Gleason, Marivic Marko, Anette Power