Most locals have gotten used to New Orleans being a playground for tourists, sports and music fans on any given weekend or celebration. As the city gears up to host its tenth Super Bowl since 1970, it's no surprise for most in what's ahead for the big game events. But many wouldn't expect the levels of community service, environmental efforts and volunteerism in a the city that hosts such an affair.
Locals have witnessed strategic amounts of street resurfacing, new sidewalks in the French Quarter, and streetcar line additions leading up to the big game. The improvements are necessary, but having them happen all at once is more off-putting than most locals were prepared for. As the deadline nears, everyone hopes they'll complete the tasks without compromising quality. But these are just a few of the improvements that the city, NFL, community partners and the host committee are bringing together due to the Super Bowl. Three of the larger efforts for community and environmental concerns will kick off the weekend between parades and offer additional efforts throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
Taste of NFL's Party with a Purpose®
"Flavors of New Orleans" is the theme of the 22nd Annual Taste of NFL premier party. Wayne Kostroski, founder of Taste of the NFL, helped start this annual strolling food-and-wine tasting event in Minneapolis in 1992, which has become the most successful NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl fundraiser. Proceeds go directly to fight hunger, with more than $14 million distributed to food banks in NFL cities throughout the past 22 years. This year, New Orleans will receive 30 percent of proceeds from local Taste of NFL events, including the Party with a Purpose, as well as an ongoing Taste of NFL Dinner Series that has continued throughout the football season at restaurants around the city. R'evolution, La Petite Grocery, Bayona, Café Adelaide, Patios, and Commander's Palace have participated in the Taste of the NFL Dinner Series, with special events taking place at their restaurants during the NFL season to raise funds for Second Harvest.
The big premier event for Super Bowl weekend is the Taste of NFL Party with a Purpose®, taking place Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with seven of New Orleans' noted chefs joining 32 Taste of NFL chefs, one from each NFL city, to serve up signature dishes from each region alongside NFL players past and present. The seven chefs representing the Flavors of New Orleans include Chef John Folse, Chef Rick Tramonto, Chef Justin Devillier, Chef Susan Spicer, Chef Sean Daigle, Chef Keith Faulkner, and Chef Stephan Blaser. In addition, Chef Tory McPhail is representing the New Orleans Saints as their Taste of NFL chef.
Tickets and VIP tables are available online at TasteoftheNFL.com. The event includes a silent auction with more than 250 items to bid on, including sports memorabilia, travel getaways and more. Also, Miss America will be greeting guests, and for the third year in a row, cast members from TLC's "Cake Boss" will reveal an original cake creation for the event. Visit TasteoftheNFL.com for a full list of chefs and players serving up the cuisine.
For those unable to make the event, online fundraiser Kick the Hunger Challenge has also been established, where fans can turn their spirited sports competition into a healthy donation in their favorite team's name. Saints fans can go online to KickHungerChallenge.com to make a donation in the Saints' name, and all proceeds will go directly to Second Harvest Food Bank. Each of the NFL teams is represented in the Kick the Hunger Challenge, bringing funding to food banks in each community.
Super Saturday of Service
Prior to attending the Taste of NFL event, Saturday, Feb. 2, visiting and local volunteers are encouraged to get involved in renovating five local playgrounds. The NFL, City of New Orleans, New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD), and the Super Bowl host committee are partnering with the Young Leadership Council and Habitat for Humanity to create a Super Saturday of Service. Matching funding from NFL Charities, the City of New Orleans and NORD will allow volunteers to complete major capital improvement projects at the Lyons Center, hunter's Field, Kingswood Playground and Pontchartrain Park. Those parks will receive improvements prior to the game, while harrell Stadium in the hollygrove neighborhood will receive Super Bowl turf from the game fi eld directly after game day. Super Saturday of Service lends a hand to community projects and lets volunteers invest sweat equity into the Super Bowl experience by planting trees, painting and cleaning up.
"hosting the Super Bowl is about more than a football game. It is an opportunity to make a memorable and lasting impact on a community," offered Jay Cicero, Super Bowl host Committee Executive Director and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. "The Super Saturday of Service will not only leave a lasting physical legacy in these neighborhoods, but should also prove to be a memorable Super Bowl experience for the local and visiting volunteers, NFL players, media, non-profi t organizations, partners, and organizations that choose to participate."
Individuals or organizations interested in participating in the Super Saturday of Service are asked to visit NolaSuperBowl.com for details on how to participate. For information on all 2013 Super Bowl volunteer opportunities, text the word "super" to 63566, or register as a Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation volunteer online at NolaSuperBowl.com. If you're interested in signing up a large group of volunteers or as a corporate employee volunteer program, email [email protected] or call (504) 525-5678.
Super Bowl/NFL Environmental Projects
This may be news to some, but in the summer of 2010, the New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee started gearing up to do their part in minimizing the Super Bowl's carbon footprint. While they may not be as noticeable between Mardi Gras parade trash, there will be a lot of Super Bowl related materials that need repurposing. The NFL has helped focus on environmental efforts in communities that host the Super Bowl. In 2010, following the Saints Super Bowl win in Miami, the host committee took responsibility over décor elements and materials from the NFL event and found opportunities to repurpose them instead of discarding. Jack Groh, NFL Environmental Program Coordinator, contacted Sam Joffray, Associate Executive Director of the host Committee with the challenge of fi nding new uses for more than 30,000 linear feet of stadium and hotel banners from the 2010 event. Since taking delivery of the materials, the host committee has developed partnerships with community groups to recycle the commemorative pieces of the Saints' historic win. The Green Project and rEpurposing NOLA stored the truckload of materials, then developed a line of clothing, travel bags, shower curtains and other products out of the recycled materials. Their intent to produce environmentally conscious products for fans and eco-consumers turned out to be a success.
The chance to recycle such historical materials attracted owner of rEpurposing NOLA Traci Claussen. "It is inspiring to have powerful organizations like the NFL and the Super Bowl host Committee lead the fi eld in corporate environmental responsibility. This single gesture allows us all to give back to the community, as well as the planet, and I am extremely honored to be part of this moment in history," said Claussen. All of the proceeds from the retail line will benefi t future projects for the host Committee's Environmental Program. To fi nd out more about rEpurposing NOLA, visit their website at rEpurposingNOLA.com. There are still some recycled products available on the site from the 2010 banners, under the Sustainable Sports section.
In addition to recycling materials, the Super Bowl host Committees do their part to plant it forward: in this case, literally planting trees. In a partnership with the hike for KaTrEEna and Navy Week, the New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee received a Bald Cypress tree, gifted from the Indianapolis host Committee of the 2012 Super Bowl. The ceremonial gift tree was planted on the Lakefront with the goal of reaching 2,013 trees before Super Bowl Sunday 2013. The Bald Cypress is a tree common to both Indianapolis and New Orleans, representing how NFL cities connect between annual Super Bowl events, and minimizing the carbon footprint from those events.
Connie uddo, Director of hike for KaTrEEna was excited to partner with the New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee. uddo said, "hike for KaTrEEna is delighted to be a part of the Super Bowl XLvII Environmental Initiative by planting our 13,000th tree with Navy sailors during NOLA Navy Week. We are excited and honored to work with the NFL and the New Orleans Super Bowl host Committee Environmental Committee, and are grateful for their support of our effort to replace the 100,000 trees lost to hurricane Katrina."
Working with the NFL Environmental Program, the host Committee has launched a number of legacy programs leading up to Super Bowl weekend in February, when New Orleans will host its 10th Super Bowl. To learn more about all of the host Committee efforts, visit nolasuperbowl.com, and fi nd out about additional volunteer opportunities throughout the Super Bowl week.