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Travel Treasures departments

Mar/Apr 2012 Issue

Tall ships will be sailing into New Orleans

As part of Louisiana’s bicentennial celebration, four tall ships, including the Coast Guard’s historic sailing ship Barque Eagle, will sail majestically into New Orleans in April.

Starting in New Orleans, Operation Sail also is kicking off the Navy’s three-year commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As part of this national celebration, these ships and a dozen others from around the world will tour a handful of U.S. port cities during 2012. New Orleans’ position as a major port city and its historic role in the War of 1812 made it the ideal candidate to launch a three-year nationwide commemoration that also will finish in New Orleans in 2015.

Four graceful, tall sailing ships representing the United States, Colombia, Ecuador, and Indonesia will be in New Orleans April 17–23. The ships will dock at Woldenberg Park alongside the French Quarter for a week-long program that will include a ship parade, public visitations, an air show by the Blue Angels over Lake Pontchartrain, and other activities with an international flavor.

The Barque Eagle, home-ported in New London, Conn., is a 290-foot long globetrotting ambassador and sail training ship of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Eagle always leads the Parade of Sail.

Among the other ships will be international vessels used to train their naval cadets, including the Guayas, the 257-foot long tall ship of Ecuador; the Gloria of Colombia; and the Dewaruci, the largest tall ship in the Indonesian fleet.

All of the ships will be open for public visiting free of charge from noon–6 p.m. daily, and visitors will have the chance to interact with sailors from around the world.

For additional information, visit


The U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle will be among the tall ships visiting New Orleans. Operation Sail Inc. photo


Newly renovated Museum of Discovery lives up to its name

Almost the only thing that remained the same for the revamped and rejuvenated Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Ark., is its address.

The completely remodeled museum opened earlier this winter after a year-long project that was so extensive that past visitors won’t recognize the facility. Funded by a $9.2 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the renovation involved gutting the museum from top to bottom and then building it back up with state-of-the-art galleries. Even the front door is in a new location for easier access.

“We were able to re-dedicate our focus as central Arkansas’s premier math, science, and technology center,” said Nan Selz, executive director of the museum.

Outdated exhibits were replaced with 85 interactive science and technology showpieces in three new galleries focused on health, physical and earth sciences. Among the new exhibits is Tornado Alley, where visitors can “ride out” the 1999 twister that hit Little Rock.

Also new to the museum is the Tinkering Studio, a hands-on workshop where visitors get a chance to create, invent, and discover using supplied materials and their own imaginations.

The renovated space boasts almost 6,000 additional square feet, primarily in the elegant front entrance and reception area. There’s also a new theater and traveling exhibit gallery, and many of the museum’s resident critters are back in brand new quarters, including ferrets, snakes, birds, and flying squirrels.

The museum, located at 500 President Clinton Ave., is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 1–11. Call (501) 396-7050 for additional information, or click on


The renovated museum features dozens of hands-on exhibits that focus on math, science and technology. Museum of Discovery photos



Paint the town green at this Jackson, Miss., family party

Once described as a “green Mardi Gras,” the annual Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade in downtown Jackson, Miss., offers fun for everyone, including the family pet.

More than just a parade to mark St. Patrick’s Day, Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade is more like a celebration of spring. In its 30th year, the event is typically held on the third weekend in March, but this year’s festival actually falls on the holiday, March 17, and will bring more than 65,000 people to the state’s capital to run, walk, play, eat, dance, and yes, march.

The day gets underway with Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade Race, featuring a 5K run, 5K walk, and a one-mile fun race. A children’s area will open at 9 a.m. on Lamar Street in front of the Mississippi Museum of Art, where festivities will include a pet parade and a children’s parade.

The big parade steps off at 1 p.m., beginning and ending at the place that started it all: Hal & Mal’s restaurant. The parade is followed by a block party in the parking lot of the restaurant, which is located at 200 S. Commerce St. Admission to the block party is $5. Donations from the parade and other events help support the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. For details, including a map of the parade route and the races, click on


The festive parade features dozens of motorized and walking units. Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children photo


Civil War will echo in northwest Arkansas

It was 150 years ago this spring that the stillness of the forests and fields around Pea Ridge, Ark., was broken by the sound of cannon fire, muskets and shouts of soldiers in a tumultuous battle, one of the most decisive of the Civil War.

When the Battle of Pea Ridge Sesquicentennial is held this spring, the silence will be broken again in a spirit of remembrance and respect. On the weekend of March 9–11, the Pea Ridge National Military Park will commemorate the 150th anniversary with a host of activities and tributes.

This event kicks off on Friday in the Bentonville Square with a cavalry re-enactment at the actual site where the Union and Confederate armies met in March 1862 before the Battle of Pea Ridge.

That night, Bobby Horton will perform “Songs and Stories of the Civil War” at the Shewmaker Center at North-west Arkansas Community College. Horton will explore stories of the North and South through the music they loved.

Activities move to Pea Ridge National Military Park the following day. Re-enactors will bring to life the conflict through encampments, battlefield talks, guided hikes, and artillery and rifle firing demonstrations. There will be a battlefield luminary event on Saturday evening and memorial service on Sunday morning.

The kick-off is free, but tickets to the concert are $20. All park events will be $5 per adult or $10 per vehicle. For details, call (479) 451-8122, or click on


Among the activities will be cannon firing demonstrations. Pea Ridge National Military Park photo

Grand Isle calls campers to the beach

For the first time since recent hurricanes ravaged the Louisiana coastline, campers are allowed to pitch tents on the beach at Grand Isle State Park.

A preservation and recreation area, Grand Isle State Park is located on the northeastern portion of Grand Isle, the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Barataria Pass, the park is the only state-owned beach on the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

The majority of the park is salt water marsh, a tidal wetland environment. Renowned for its many crabbing and fishing opportunities, the area is home to 280 species of fish. Also, birders will delight in many species of birds, including the Brown Pelican.

The park offers a great spot for swimming in the Gulf most of the year, and there are more than three miles of hiking trails. An observation tower gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the east end of the island and the ruins of Fort Livingston on nearby Grand Terre island.

The beach has 10 permits for overnight stays for tent camping only. Sites can be reserved for $12 per night at or at (877) 226-7652. For details, visit

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