Ice skating at the zoo _lowres

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Dad, Scott Bennett helps Kamrie Bennett ,3, balance during a day of "ice'' skating at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans on Sunday, November 23, 2014. The rink of synthetic ice made from a high-tech plastic, which measures 40 feet by 28 feet.

Parade to open NOLA ChristmasFest

NOLA ChristmasFest, New Orleans’ only indoor Christmas festival, will open to the public Friday at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, but local children can get a sneak preview the night before by being part of a colorful Lantern Parade through the streets of the Warehouse District.

ChristmasFest will feature an ice skating rink, holiday characters, amusement rides and more inside the Convention Center.

The Lantern Parade will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at Fulton and Lafayette streets. Children of all ages are invited to light the way to the Convention Center and to be among the first to experience all of the attractions and activities that NOLA ChristmasFest has to offer.

Children and their guardians interested in participating in the Lantern Parade and private preview must register in advance at www.nolachristmasfest.com.

NOLA ChristmasFest will run through Dec. 27, featuring an ice skating rink, a walk-through maze, themed inflatables and rides such as the Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl, Snowball Fight and Snowy Summit Climbing Wall. It will take place inside Hall B at the Convention Center from noon to 8 p.m. each day. Special hours on Christmas Eve are from noon to 5 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tickets are available online, at www.nolachristmasfest.com and can also be purchased on the site during the 10-day event. Single-day general admission tickets are $5. Single-day all-access tickets are $20.

Meeting to explain new French Quarter tax

The New Orleans Bureau of Revenue will hold a public meeting Tuesday for French Quarter businesses to discuss the sales tax increase approved by French Quarter residents in October.

The meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the City Council chamber at City Hall.

Beginning Jan. 1, businesses within the French Quarter Economic Development District will charge an additional 0.2495 percent sales tax on any tangible items or taxable services sold or delivered in the French Quarter. The tax increase amounts to an additional 25 cents for every $100 spent.

The affected district includes all businesses bounded by the Mississippi River, the center line of Canal Street, the rear property line of properties fronting on the lake side of North Rampart Street and both sides of Esplanade Avenue.

The sales tax is expected to generate $2 million annually to help fund State Police troopers and other public safety measures throughout the French Quarter.

Business owners will have to make the appropriate rate changes to their cashier system prior to Jan. 1.

Also starting in January, the city’s Tax Form 8071 will have a new Section F for businesses located and making deliveries in the French Quarter.

At the public meeting, officials will explain the new collections forms and how to enter sales tax information online.

Audubon Zoo to offer skating on synthetic ice

Holiday “ice” skating will return to the Audubon Zoo as part of a Snofari Adventure celebration from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31.

A skating rink of synthetic ice made from high-tech plastic will be open all six days from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in front of the Capital One Stage beneath the oaks.

Snofari Adventure holiday activities are included with zoo admission, but the skating will require an additional ticket that can be purchased at the zoo’s front gate or at the Endangered Species Carousel ticket booth inside the zoo.

Skating tickets are $5 for Audubon members and $7 for others and are good for one-time access to the rink. Children under 2 are free. Ticket sales will close daily at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are not available online.

The rink, which measures 40 feet by 30 feet, has a capacity of about 35 people. Special skates in all sizes will be available at no additional fee. Skaters cannot bring their own skates.

Skaters will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

A DJ will spin holiday tunes, and a sleigh will be available for photos.