14th Annual "Holiday On the Boulevard"
Eric Connerly | 12/4/2013, 5:29 p.m. | Updated on 12/4/2013, 5:29 p.m.
It is again that time of the year where for the fourteenth consecutive year, music and merriment are the order of the day as Ashé Cultural Arts Center lights up the boulevard with musicians, actors, merchants, and the community, creating an astonishing holiday family festival and marketplace in Central City New Orleans. The Ashe’ Cultural Center since opening its doors has become a beacon light for the arts community and Central City. Located in the Cultural District at 1712/24 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in New Orleans, the festival will bring together a hefty mix of talented individuals from a variety of art forms including many from the world of music that over the two day festival will showcase the best the City has to offer in the fields of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, folk, reggae, sprinkled with spoken word and incredible dancers.
“Holiday on the Boulevard is an opportunity for folks to begin the process of slowing down to enjoy the bonds of family, friendship and community. It is a time to assess the blessings of the rapidly departing year and to set expectations and goals for the New Year. Such deep thoughts then combine with music, good food and fellowship to offer an unfrenzied and unbothered respite from the demand of too full lives,” says Carol Bebelle, Co-founder of the Ashe’ Cultural Center and its commitment to the betterment of the New Orleans community not just doing the holiday season, but year round.
In the spirit of preserving and recognizing our cultural traditions on Friday, December 6th , “Holiday on the Boulevard” kicks off with the Annual Kwanzaa Demonstration led by our special holiday icons Baba Kwanzaa (John O’Neal) and Mama YéYé (Olayeela Daste). Young people will learn about the principles of Kwanzaa, the meaning behind its terminology and the significance of the lighting of the Kinara. Afterwards, at the Imagination Tour, participating children will travel the continent of Africa. With some of the youngsters dressed in African attire and becoming dancers led by Mama Jamilah, while others take to the drums to play rhythms taught by master drummer Luther Gray of Bamboula 2000. That afternoon, the community is invited to learn more about Ashé and its programming at the Annual Luncheon and Open House.
The importance of the festival is more than simply a display of the cultural arts, but it also provides economic opportunities for small businesses offering a variety of services with visibility that will hopefully expand their customer base and increase their revenues. “’Holiday on the Boulevard” allows us to practice economic development at the community level. Small vendors, artists and entrepreneurs are able to participate in the money changing that happens in such high volume during the end-of-the-year holidays. We call it cooperative economics or "Ujamaa" in the Nguzo Saba--Seven Principles of Kwanzaa,” says Bebelle of the “Holiday on the Boulevard’s” larger purpose.
It is free to the public and those attending are encouraged to don their dancing shoes, because it is promised that the grooves will make you just want to move. As with some festivals the weather is a problem, but not with this one for all the entertainment is indoors, free, and open to the public.