Festivities highlight the site of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) 2023 Convention
February 21 is Fat Tuesday, an indulgent Catholic tradition with roots in ancient Roman spring festivals. Better known as Mardi Gras, this day precedes the 40 days of Lent that start Ash Wednesday. No place on earth celebrates Mardi Gras quite like New Orleans, with its abundance of parade floats, colorful beads and king cakes throughout the Carnival season!
Affectionately known as NOLA, New Orleans is the location for this year’s HLAA 2023 Convention in June. As millions view the city’s pageantry, parades, and over-the-top Mardi Gras celebrations this week, I am looking forward to a calmer time this summer when we will welcome hundreds of HLAA members and guests to NOLA for our annual Convention—the largest event of its kind—offering workshops, social events, and technology demonstrations, all designed to empower people with hearing loss.
I love this city and am not only thrilled to be planning my first HLAA Convention here, but I’m also excited for our HLAA 2023 Convention attendees, who will get to see this historic city at a quieter time, beyond the Mardi Gras excitement! Participants will have the chance to explore the true New Orleans, as they learn and connect with people with hearing loss from all over the United States.
Our Convention hotel, the New Orleans Marriott, is a 4-star property conveniently situated in the midst of it all—right on glitzy Canal Street between the French Quarter and Warehouse District! Here are a few of the sites you can easily visit from there:
Canal Street – The famous Mardi Gras Parade route, also known for its streetcars, upscale fashion and jewelry stores (such as The Shops at Canal Place), and some of the country’s oldest restored theaters.
Royal Street – One-of-a-kind boutiques filled with vintage clothing, European antiques, art galleries, T-shirts, cookbooks, and more. Wandering down Royal is a fascinating exercise in people-watching, while perusing unique items you may never need but want to check out. Don’t miss Sucre, a bakery with amazing pastries, and Hotel Monteleone, with its revolving circus-themed Carousel Bar.
Jackson Square – A 2.5-acre National Historic Landmark designed in 1721, this central gathering place teems with local artists and musicians. Surrounding the Square are historical buildings and museums, including St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo and the Presbytère Museum—our off-site venue for Thursday night’s splashy Welcome Back Bash: A Taste of New Orleans! While there, attendees can view two exhibits: Living with Hurricanes – Katrina and Beyond and Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana.
French Market District – A historic open-air market, the oldest of its kind in the U.S., founded as a Native American trading post in 1791. Start off with a delicious beignet, café au lait and Mississippi River view at the 161-year-old Café du Monde, then visit vendor stalls with fresh produce, cheese, wine, candles, clothing and jewelry, and wind up at the Christmas shop, selling everything from Cajun ornaments to Mardi Gras themed nutcrackers.
Bourbon Street – A never-ending party in the heart of the French Quarter, this street is popular for its neon lights and raucous night life. If that’s your scene, check out this list of the 13 Best Bars on Bourbon Street.
Music, Museums and More
World renowned as a city of music and the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans boasts live performers on almost every street corner. The three-block stretch of Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny district, about a mile from the Marriott, is home to many small jazz clubs such as the Spotted Cat, Café Negril and Snug Harbor, along with countless blues, rock and reggae venues. The historic New Orleans Jazz Museum is just down the street and the Frenchmen Art Market is open nightly all summer long, featuring original art and crafts made by local artists.
In a fitting tribute to New Orleans, where music is so important to the fabric of the city, this year’s Convention Research Symposium on Friday morning is titled, “The Joy of Music/Loving Your Ears.” Topics will include protecting your hearing while making music, music perception in cochlear implant users and making music with hearing loss.
For those needing a break from the city bustle, the scenic, serene New Orleans Botanical Garden is a short Uber ride away. Check out the sculpture garden highlighting the work of Mexican American artist Enrique Alférez and the train garden with railroad cars and late-1800s streetcars on 1,300 feet of track. For history buffs, I recommend the interactive National WWII Museum and Museum and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, which are close to each other.
These are just some of the wonderful things New Orleans has to offer. There is also the Magazine District, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, ghost tours, amazing restaurants on every corner and so much more.
See You In NOLA!
We look forward to seeing you at the HLAA 2023 Convention in New Orleans! Online Registration is open until May 26, with early-bird rates through March 31. Don’t miss our engaging Educational and State/Chapter Workshops, Awards Ceremony, Exhibit Hall, and everything else on the schedule!
If you or someone you know has a hearing loss, visit hearingloss.org for resources and to find a local chapter, or a Walk4Hearing near you.
For questions, contact HLAA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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