Kids’ parties set this week at ChristmasFest

NOLA ChristmasFest, an indoor, family-friendly holiday event that kicked off Dec. 12 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, is featuring two kids’ parties this week.

The festivities include daily “Parties with the Ice Princesses” until Christmas Eve and a “Singalong with Santa Pajama Party” on Monday. The special events, which are sectioned off from the regular ChristmasFest activities, feature refreshments, entertainment and singalongs.

Admission is $35 and includes access to all other NOLA ChristmasFest activities and entertainment.

Aside from the special parties, NOLA ChristmasFest offers myriad activities for the whole family, for a “pay one price” entry fee of $15. Children under 3 are admitted free.

The area features 13 inflatables, a rock-climbing wall, a petting zoo and hands-on crafts. Families also can Skype with Santa’s elves and hang out with Mr. Bingle, Rudolph, Frosty, Santa and Mrs. Claus. The entertainment lineup includes storytelling, puppet shows and performers Lena Prima, Joe Krown, Benny Grunch, the Victory Belles and Robin Barnes.

Festivalgoers also can explore the Great Hall of Trees, which includes more than 50 Christmas trees decorated by hotels and businesses and a gaggle of gingerbread houses.

NOLA ChristmasFest hours are from noon to 9 p.m. through Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets may be purchased online via christmasinthedistrict.com or at the Convention Center.

Pussyfooters’ ball slated for January

Blush Ball, an annual fundraiser held by the Pussyfooters, an all-women’s marching group, will take place from 9 p.m. to midnight Jan. 9 at Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive.

The party raises money for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.

Tickets are $40 for general admission and $60 for the patron party from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Are You Blushing?” with live music by Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Quickie Mart, Fresh Johnson and special performances by the Pussyfooters. Prizes will be raffled and available for bidding in a silent auction.

The Pussyfooters consist of 100-plus women over 30. They appear in their trademark pink plumage, corsets and white boots in nearly 50 parades, fundraisers and special events during the year.

Over the past four years, the group has raised $70,000 for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.

Tickets are available at www.pussyfooters.org, through any Pussyfooter member, at Miss Claudia’s on Magazine Street and at all Fleurty Girl locations.

Loyola Opera Theatre presents Puccini

The Loyola University Opera Theatre will present two one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini on Jan. 23 and 25.

“Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi,” to be performed in Italian with supertitles, are part of the trio known as “Il Trittico.”

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 and at 3 p.m. Jan. 25 in Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall.

“Suor Angelica” is set in an Italian convent. Sister Angelica, forced to become a nun by her wealthy family, learns that the son taken from her at birth has recently died.

“Gianni Schicchi” is a comedy about the conniving nature of the Donati family of Florence. As relatives gather at the deathbed of a family member, they turn to an outsider to manipulate the will and their own inheritance, with unexpected results.

New York stage director and choreographer Bill Fabris will direct, while Carol Rausch, director of the Loyola Opera Theatre, will serve as musical director and conductor.

Tickets are $40 for preferred seating, $25 for reserved seating and $15 for Loyola students, faculty and staff. For tickets, visit montage.loyno.edu or call (504) 865-2074.

Free parking is available in the West Road Garage, accessible from St. Charles Avenue.

Startup St. Bernard entries due Jan. 31

Startup St. Bernard, an initiative announced by the Meraux Foundation, is seeking innovative entrepreneurs to compete for a prize worth $110,000.

Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for a chance to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges in St. Bernard Parish on March 23 during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Entries are due Jan. 31.

“We created Startup St. Bernard to showcase the parish as an ideal place for businesses, especially startups,” said Rita Gue, president of the Meraux Foundation. “This is a unique way to approach economic development and a new way to promote the parish.”

The prize package includes office space, legal services, marketing, accounting and $42,500 in cash. The challenge is open to any business that will locate its base of operations in St. Bernard Parish for at least one year.

The judging, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm at the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center.

Businesses interested in competing must complete the entry form and submit a business plan at www.startupstbernard.com by Jan. 31. The five highest-scoring businesses will be selected to appear before the judges.

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week helps entrepreneurs through discussion, debate, education and competition that happen over eight days.