Please $upport New Orleans Today

by Deroy Murdock

If it’s Tuesday, it’s GiveNOLA Day.

Between right now and 11:59 PM Central time this evening, fans and friends of New Orleans have an excellent opportunity to contribute to a wide variety of causes that are helping to keep the Crescent City alive and well.

The Greater New Orleans Foundation organized GiveNOLA Day and describes it as the first “one-day, online giving event to inspire people to give generously to nonprofit organizations that are creating a thriving community for all.”

The Foundation will use its own funds to augment gifts made today to some 300 non-profits that serve local needs in America’s most unique and unparalleled city.

One excellent cause worth supporting is the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, on whose advisory board I serve. Named in honor of Louisiana’s state bird, the Pelican Institute is New Orleans’s own free-market think tank.

Under the energetic leadership of its president, Kevin Kane, Pelican has promoted limited government, free enterprise, and public integrity in a city and state that historically have underemphasized these virtues. Kane and his wife, Lesley, are enthusiastic supporters of school choice. New Orleans now is, essentially, America’s charter-school headquarters, after Hurricane Katrina flushed the local teachers union into the Gulf of Mexico. The Pelican Institute has chronicled these very encouraging developments and is working sedulously to solidify and advance these and other gains.

The Pelican Institute’s specific gift page eagerly awaits your generosity here.

During my 20th annual visit to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival during the last weekend of April, I found one of my favorite cities in terrific shape. The place is gleaming in many spots, with brand-new medical research facilities just opening or still under construction along Canal Street. Construction crews are attending to deferred maintenance on many thoroughfares. While this is inconvenient now, it should bolster the local infrastructure considerably.

Magazine Street stretches into the Garden District and Uptown sector and boasts splendid restaurants and delightful small shops. Fleur d’ Orleans, for instance, sells hand-designed and largely Nepalese-made jewelry, furniture, cards, and weavings. In nearly limitless varieties, almost all of these are decorated with fleurs-de-lis, New Orleans’s heraldic symbol from its days under Napoleonic rule.

From the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, hotels old and new welcome guests eager to enjoy this town’s 24-7 cocktail culture as well as such delights as pork-belly sandwiches and numerous local beers at the just-expanded Butcher in the Warehouse District.

After hosting people like Eric Clapton on the Acura Stage and Vampire Weekend, the Honey Island Swamp Band, and Lois Dejean — “Queen of New Orleans Gospel” — at other daytime venues at Jazz Fest, per se, this city never sleeps. The Big Easy stays wide-eyed past 1:30 a.m. with such acts as Parliament Funkadelic at the House of Blues and the San Francisco Bay Area’s funk/soul guitar master Ron Kat Spearman and Katdelic at the Blue Nile until 5:30 a.m.

A local bumper sticker captures it perfectly: “New Orleans: Proud to Crawl Home.”

New Orleans never fails to amuse or amaze. Please open your wallets today, and let the good times roll!

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