We don’t know what the news will look like in 2018, for God only knows what the future holds. But the 300th anniversary of the city of New Orleans will be a notable event in that year, and it is certain to be talked about and in the news.
We want people to experience it firsthand, too. That is why we welcome the star-studded list of Louisianians who are contributing their time and talents to promote this landmark in the history of our state.
Attention on New Orleans’ birthday is why it has always made sense for Mayor Mitch Landrieu to use 2018 as a target date for projects large and small. He will be mayor for the big party, and we think it helps in government to give folks, and particularly government agencies, a deadline to get things done.
Things don’t just happen, and that’s as true in the private sector as in the public. An event like this tricentennial involves public services, nonprofits and private businesses. A public-private partnership will be necessary to make the most of the event.
The 2018 Commission is privately funded, but it will coordinate with international, national and local partners to create programs and celebrations throughout the city leading up to and during the tricentennial year. Landrieu and his wife, Cheryl, will serve as honorary co-chairs of the commission. Mark Romig, president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., will be the group’s director.
There is, of course, a website, www.2018nola.com.
The members of the commission are a large and diverse group, reflecting the wonderful variety that makes New Orleans such a delightful place to live and visit.
The “visit” part is important, as the economic benefits of such a notable anniversary are also key to Louisiana’s ambitions for the tricentennial year.
The state’s top tourism official, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, said his office has strongly pushed for expanded international tourism — visitors who stay longer and spend more. “We’ve targeted international visitors, and it has paid off,” he said.
Dardenne won’t be in his current office — he’s running for governor next year — but he said the state clearly has an interest in backing tricentennial events with advertising and other support. “It is certainly going to be a major event, an event of national and international significance,” he said.
At 300, the city is in many ways in pretty good shape. The official First Fan, Landrieu named the 2018 Commission and then noted the good news that deserves attention: “schools are improving, our economy is getting stronger and murder is at a historic 30-year low.”
If more remains to be done, as Landrieu acknowledges, his overall point is well-taken, and that is that in 2018, there is an opportunity for more attention on New Orleans than is usually the case, particularly around the country and the world.
The comeback story of New Orleans from the storms of 2005 is going to get new attention in the 10th anniversary year of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of much of the city and the metropolitan area. We’ve got a lot to show in the way of progress, but the 2018 party also will draw attention to the Crescent City and the region and state. We should indeed try to make the most of these anniversaries, happy and sad.