[Ben Hershey/Unsplash]

Football and Festivities

00:00 January 21, 2013
By: Kristal Blue


[Courtesy of NewOrleansOnline.com]
Every year, locals know that Mardi Gras day falls 46 days prior to Easter, and what to expect for the two weeks of celebrations, family traditions and insanity of the Carnival season. This year, a third week of sports-specifi c celebrations invades the lineup, with the city rescheduling the fi rst week of parades to Jan. 24 - 27 to make room for the Super Bowl XLvII frenzy leading up to the big game on Feb. 3. This year will bring the city to a record-tie with Miami hosting the Super Bowl 10 times since 1970. But that doesn't make it a predictable event. It's not just game day that will be taking over the city, but several different events including fan experiences, music, food, media, and service days to contribute back to the community. here's a little insight into the goings-on planned by the NFL and local New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee.

NFL Experience

First on the list of events is the NFL Experience - young sports fans are very familiar with the interactive theme park that springs up to build the excitement around the two teams going head-to-head for the championship. This year will bring the 21st NFL Experience presented by GMC to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Jan. 30. First day kick off of the NFL Experience starts at 3 p.m., Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, it's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Game day closes early at 4 p.m.

Past NFL Experience events include an interactive history of the Super Bowl, pro football displays, kids' football clinics in the NFL rush Zone, free autograph sessions and the largest football memorabilia show, as well as a chance to view the vince Lombardi Trophy up close. The NFL Experience encompasses 850,000 square feet includes attractions for kids between three and 10 years old and NFL Play 60 youth Football Clinics for 6 - 12 year olds. Online reviews of past NFL Experiences offer the advice to go early and expect lines, but also state the experience is worth the wait.

Family ticket packs or individual tickets are available through Ticketmaster or onsite kiosks. Fans can come out to see their favorite players, or call 1-888-NFL-CArD (635-2273) beginning Jan. 28 for a list of players appearing. Player appearances will be announced the night before they are scheduled to appear.

The NFL Charities organization donates $1 million from ticket sales each year to benefi t local youth charities for under-served youth organizations in diverse communities.

Super Bowl Media Center Fan Gallery

Fans will have free behind-the-scenes access to portions of the Media Center located in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Fans will be able to see NFL players, celebrities and other athletes interviewed on the NFL Network and other television network sets and on radio row. In addition to being onsite of the Media Center, which accommodates 5,000 credentialed media, fans can check out sponsored interactive zones.

Super Bowl Media Day

If the NFL Experience isn't enough pre-game football talk for fans, the NFL will host the second Super Bowl Media Day on Jan. 29 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A limited number of lucky spectators will enjoy what it's like on the other side of the big screen up close with players and coaches taking questions and talking game strategy with thousands of reporters from around the world. The media circus that builds the Super Bowl buzz across networks is now open to a live audience. Fans get the opportunity to see the inner workings of the media frenzy.

Last year was the fi rst Media Day event and as a special part of the experience, fans in Indianapolis witnessed team photos in uniform, walked the fi eld, visited locker rooms and the media compounds that make up the Super Bowl production. Who knows what this year's Superdome Media Day experience will include?

Media Day concludes with the New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee hosting the NFL Media Party. While locals enjoy what New Orleans is known for daily, the host Committee will take this opportunity to reintroduce the world to New Orleans through local cuisine from more than 50 local restaurants and cooking demonstrations from the city's celebrated chefs. Anne Tuennerman from Tales of the Cocktail will curate specialty cocktail pairings to accompany the culinary delights. New Orleans' culture will also be touted with a variety of local musicians performing throughout the evening.

Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard

[Courtesy of Romney]

Woldenberg Park has been home to many festivals and events, but the verizon Super Bowl Boulevard is anticipated to be a four-day blowout that tops the riverfront's list of live productions. Local musicians, food and beverage vendors, live national Tv broadcasts, interactive events and fans from both sides of the fi eld will bring the riverfront to a roar at the fi rst ever Boulevard experience. This festival is free and open to the public - as with all other free riverfront experiences, expect lines and limited-to-no parking or driving access anywhere around the French Quarter, or most likely the downtown area for that matter. Walking shoes will be your best mode of transportation to get you to the activities from Thursday, Jan. 31 through Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3.

Envisioned as "Where Super Bowl Lives," verizon Super Bowl Boulevard at Woldenberg Park will set the bar high for future Super Bowl cities to house such a public celebration alongside the game. If Lombardi Gras was the vehicle to introduce Mardi Gras parading to Super Bowl Championship parades, then this Super Bowl Boulevard crowd should expect Jazz Fest levels of music and culture with a sports-backed theme. Quint Davis and his Festival Productions staff make up the well-oiled machine behind this riverfront production. It has now been written in the requirements for Super Bowl host cities to include a public event such as this, and who else can take on the challenge like New Orleans to kick off a party?

Additional mentions have also included the return of the NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. Details haven't been specifi ed as of press time. The NFL Players Choir is a part of the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, an NFLsanctioned event that has been a part of Super Bowl Weekend since 1999. The choir made its debut in 2008, when more than 40 NFL players showed off their vocal talents under the direction of Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Donnie McClurkin. This will be the second time the Gospel celebration has been hosted in New Orleans. A separate website will announce their music lineup and events: superbowlgospel.com.

Bookmark these sites for additional Super Bowl-related announcements: the NFL website at NFL.com/superbowl, and the New Orleans' host Committee website at neworleanssuperbowl.com.

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