Auld Lange Sesame Street
Ringing in the New Year with children
Traveling with children can be a mixture of frustration and reward. Often the two combine, starting with the former and becoming the latter, then creating stories that get retold every year: “Remember that time we were in New Orleans and Joe wanted to buy those tacky beads and Mom said no? He threw a fit, but then a total stranger gave him her beads and Joe still has them to this day.”
Celebrating the start of a new year as a family is a great opportunity for togetherness and memory-making. New Orleans has a lot of options, some off the beaten path, to kick off 2018 without needing to hire a babysitter.
A visit to the zoo with special events included, Zoo Year’s Eve at Audubon Zoo is a chance for outdoor fun and lots of space for kids to run around. On Dec. 31, the zoo opens at 10 a.m. and the event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., so there is plenty of time to participate in the festivities and visit the animals.
Super Stars Events will present music, games and prizes for the first hour and then “The Pop Princesses” will take the stage at 11:30 a.m. Disney Princesses Ariel, Belle and Cinderella will sing pop songs and then at noon will lead a Pepsi toast and “Auld Lange Syne” before they continue their performance with more pop hits. There will also be onsite exhibitors including Travel Central Vacations, Discovery Toys, Porta Puppet Players and martial arts demonstrations.
Access to the event is included with the purchase of zoo admission or Audubon Membership. Tickets can be bought in advance online.
Explore the Louisiana Children’s Museum(LCM) with the added bonus of a New Year’s Eve countdown to noon. The Dec. 31 event includes making special paper party hats and festive noisemakers. After the countdown at the stroke of noon, confetti will be tossed and helium balloons will be released. The Blu Kru Brass Band will bring live music NOLA-style.
Special event pricing is in effect for this event. It is $5 per person for LCM members, and $10 per person for non-members. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged and can be done online until Friday, Dec. 29 at 12 p.m. LCM opens at 9:30 a.m. and will close at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Spectators of this parade will get a hint of what Mardi Gras parades are all about. Floats, bands and other performers will bring some New Orleans festivities to the streets of the French Quarter. The parade is scheduled to depart the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street at approximately 2:30 p.m. and make its way up Decatur to Canal Street.
Families can watch the parade from either side of the street anywhere along the route, but I advise you to set up near a coffee shop that will allow bathroom access with purchases. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can watch the parade from your hotel room. Local television station WDSU will be broadcasting live 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. from a stage near Jax Brewery, where all parade participants will do two-minute shows.
Grab a Beer
No, really. New Orleans is a pretty family-friendly town for adults who imbibe. If the weather holds out and you can score a spot at one of the outdoor picnic tables (no kids allowed inside), Mid-City Irish pub Finn McCool’s hosts a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza that rings in international New Years with free food and tasty drinks. It starts at 4 p.m. with African New Year, then Dutch New Year at 5 p.m. and Irish New Year at 6 p.m. The grown-ups stick around for midnight, but the early evening toasts are more than enough for kids.
To be clear, this isn’t an event designed for children, but my family has made it work. Just don’t be shocked if your child hears a few choice words and some arguments about the best soccer teams. Finn McCool’s is located at 3701 Banks St. and has Extravaganza information on its Facebook page.
A sure bet for good beer and kid-friendly activities is Urban South Brewery. The microbrewery won’t have countdowns on Dec. 31, but it will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the Saints game on t.v. and a bounce castle for kids to jump in. It also has arcade games, board games, pool and bean bag toss games for the kid in all of us. The Quesadilla Company food truck will be onsite for food purchases. Urban South sells its non-alcoholic lemonade and ginger ale, as well as Honest juices. Urban South is located at 1645 Tchoupitoulas St.