Another Fat Tuesday is upon us and we can only imagine the festive atmosphere in New Orleans, Louisiana. Every year, the entire city is transformed into a deluxe Mardi Gras bash complete with masks, costumes, beads, delicious sweets and traditional Creole food. This annual celebration showcases the liveliness of New Orleans and people travel from all across the world to participate in this unique and thrilling experience.
But in August 2005, the liveliness was darkened by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands pitched in to revive this treasured city, with some of the most important efforts involving volunteers, the military and neighboring arenas like the Mercedes Superdome and the Houston Astrodome. Both of these arenas played an essential role in housing and assisting with the relocation of evacuees. More than 60,000 refugees took shelter in both of these stadiums combined shortly after Katrina hit the Big Easy.
On Sept. 21, 2005, we held the Neighbors in Need – Austin’s Katrina Relief Concert to help our neighboring city which, like Austin, is also a popular entertainment destination. The entertainment community in Austin and surrounding areas came together to host a night of home-hitting performances including Willie Nelson, the Neville Brothers, the late Ray Price, Jimmie Vaughan, The Flatlanders, Patty Griffin, Bob Schneider and Eric Johnson. Many people helped in organizing this event including The University of Texas, the Frank Erwin Center, former Austin Mayor Will Wynn, the late Clifford Antone, Freddy Fletcher, the late Robin Shivers and Direct Events. The concert raised more than $229,000 for the Red Cross Katrina Relief effort, but beyond that it demonstrated the camaraderie in the New Orleans revitalization.
Now, almost 10 years later, New Orleans is back on the rise with a prosperous film industry, flourishing music scene, Bowl Games and festivals. The annual Mardi Gras celebrations continue as a way to honor the resurrection of the lively city and everyone who has contributed to the relief efforts. Happy Fat Tuesday!
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