City will hold wreath-laying ceremony on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The Mayor’s Office will mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday (Jan. 17) with a ceremony at the monument to the slain civil rights leader at South Claiborne Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The memorial wreath-laying ceremony will be held in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument at 11 a.m.
The city has traditionally honored King on the national holiday with a march through Central City, beginning at A.L. Davis Park, pausing at the statue on MLK and Oretha Castle Haley boulevards, and culminating with the wreath-laying ceremony. The parades traditionally featured high school bands, dance troupes, and city officials, church leaders and civil rights activists linking arms.

The march will not be held this year, Mayor’s Office spokesperson Sharmaine Russ said in an email. In 2021, the city’s official MLK Day events were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nation’s oldest World War II veteran, Lawrence Brooks, dies in his Central City home

Lawrence Brooks, the nation’s oldest World War II veteran at 112, died Wednesday morning (Jan. 5) at his home in Central City, his daughter Vanessa Brooks told Uptown Messenger. Brooks had been in and out of the Veterans Affairs Hospital several times in recent months, but was still alert, enjoying the holidays and watching his beloved Saints play until the end. He was able to relish the Saints’ win against the Panthers on Sunday. He died as he had planned — in his own bed.

Nation’s oldest World War II veteran?just wants to stay in his Central City home


Central City resident Lawrence Brooks, the nation’s oldest living World War II veteran at 112, is back at his home after a recent stay at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a few nights in the intensive care unit. When his daughter and caregiver, Vanessa Brooks, was notified of his impending release last Thursday (Nov. 4), she was asked whether she planned to ride home with him in the ambulance. She shook her head and laughed. “He’ll have six people with him,” she said.

‘A Century on Harmony Street’ to honor the Kohlmaier cabinet makers in the Irish Channel

Furniture maker Ruppert Kohlmaier Jr. was just 6 years old when he started working in his father’s shop on Harmony Street in the Irish Channel. Almost 80 years later, he still works there every single day. His long career has been blessed, he said, by having a legion of New Orleanians as clients, whom he considers to be his extended family. Select pieces from his clients’ collections will be on view at the Louisiana State Museum’s Cabildo beginning Nov. 4 in the exhibition “A Century on Harmony Street: The Kohlmaier Cabinet Makers of New Orleans.” Curated by gallery owner Cybèle Gontar, the retrospective honors both father and son Kohlmaier and will be accompanied by a catalog.

New commander to take over NOPD’s Second District

The New Orleans Police Department announced a change of command in the Second District, which oversees police services for Audubon, Carrollton, Hollygrove and other Uptown areas. Capt. Jeff Walls, the Second District commander since 2019, assumed command of the Eighth District on Friday. He replaced Capt. Anthony Caprera, who retired Friday after a 37-year career with NOPD. It’s Walls’ second leadership assignment to the Eighth District, which comprises the French Quarter, CBD, Marigny and Warehouse District. On Monday (June 21), Lt. Eric Gillard, the second in command in the Second District for the past four years, will be promoted to the rank of captain and assume command of the Second District.

Centenarian has seen 100 years of Uptown life

Sedonia M. Duffel, an Uptown native and long-time resident, will turn 100 on Tuesday (June 15). She has lived Uptown for most of her life, beginning in a shotgun double on Louisiana Avenue and eventually in her current home on Austerlitz Street that she and her late husband, Whelmon Duffel, purchased more than 50 years ago. The centenarian is the mother of eight, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 17. Her grandchildren hosted a celebration in her honor on Sunday with limited family, friends and neighbors. One of 14 children, Duffel overcame a serious case of dropsy (edema) as a child but was still able to help raise at least seven of her siblings.

Uptown team wins top prizes at Hogs for the Cause

An Uptown team of amateur pitmasters was named the 2021 champion over the weekend at Hogs for the Cause. The celebration of smoked meat returned to the festival scene at a new site in Belle Chasse. The barbecue and music festival hosted over 80 pork-punny teams from around the country along with musical acts like Anders Osborne and Old Crow Medicine Show. The Grand Champs, Lard and in Charge, are a true Cinderella story. In a field of teams consisting of 30 to 50 members, the Lards got it done with less than a dozen dedicated barbecue warriors.

Locally produced ‘Garden District’ named Best Short Film at London International Film Festival

A locally shot short film, “Garden District,” won Best Short Film at the 2021 London International Film Festival, held virtually last month from London, Garden District Productions announced. During the ceremony, Bryan Batt and Barret O’Brien were awarded Best Lead Actors in a Short Film for their roles in “Garden District.” “We are so proud of the amazing cast and crew of ‘Garden District’ for this prestigious national honor,” said “Garden District” creator Rosary O’Neill. “This film was written to celebrate New Orleans and all of its eccentricities, and the stellar local cast really deserve this recognition.”

“Garden District” is a short film created as a sizzle reel for a future potential television series. ?It was produced in its eponymous neighborhood by a local cast and crew and focuses on the life of a New Orleans family.

Hoffman Early Learning Center awarded $400,000 grant from The Kellogg Foundation

The Kellogg Foundation awarded Hoffman Early Learning Center (Hoffman) a two-year grant for $400,000. “These funds will help the center achieve sustainability and to achieve its mission to provide a high-quality, affordable early education to children from a diverse set of socio-economic background,” said Joel Castro, CEO of New Orleans College Prep which operates Hoffman. “We know there is a need for our services, and the support from the Kellogg Foundation will greatly help us further our mission,” said Castro, citing research showing that there are nearly 12,000 low-income families with children ages 0-4 without access to affordable, quality early childcare programs in New Orleans. “Our job is to close the learning gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers,” he said. “We are doing that,” said Hoffman Executive Director Zerlander Ragas.