05-20-2018  4:54 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

US arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested a Seattle woman, conducted raids and seized thousands of marijuana plants in an investigation into what they say is an international black market marijuana operation financed by Chinese money, a newspaper reported Saturday.Authorities are still...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.British...

First class for Mississippi school after desegregation deal

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A small Mississippi Delta town whose rival high schools were combined last year under a desegregation settlement has held its first graduation ceremony.No longer Trojans and Wildcats, they're all Wolves now at Cleveland Central High School, whose seniors collected...

ENTERTAINMENT

Reggie Lucas, who worked with Miles Davis and Madonna, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning musician who played with Miles Davis in the 1970s and produced the bulk of Madonna's debut album, has died. He was 65.The performer's daughter, Lisa Lucas, told The Associated Press that her father died from complications with his heart early...

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Small clubs cross fingers for World Cup windfalls

TORCY, France (AP) — The ideal scenario for the club where Paul Pogba played football as a kid might go...

On time, on target: LeBron, Cavs pound Celtics in Game 3

CLEVELAND (AP) — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside...

US, China agree to cut American trade deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to take measures to "substantially reduce"...

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

BERLIN (AP) — On the roof of Berlin's cathedral, bees are buzzing.Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb...

Love and fire: Text of Michael Curry's royal wedding address

WINDSOR, England (AP) — And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and...

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as...

Stacey Plaisance the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- As Carnival builds toward its out-of-control crescendo of Fat Tuesday, Barry Kern and his team of float-builders and artists are already preparing for next year's parades.

One of the biggest free parties in the world fuels a multimillion-dollar industry for the city of New Orleans and the lifeblood of businesses like Kern's studio, which has been operating for more than 50 years and makes or repurposes some 400 floats a year, or roughly a float a day, Kern said.

The Mardi Gras season, which includes weeks of parades, fancy balls and parties leading up to the big day, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Orleans each year, said Kelly Schulz, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Schulz said a recent study conducted by Tulane University estimated the direct economic impact of Mardi Gras at roughly $144 million.

Some studies estimate the economic impact at more than $500 million, said Arthur Hardy, a Mardi Gras historian.

"There's no way to know for sure because we don't sell tickets," Hardy said. "Mardi Gras started small, in private homes and private balls, and it's evolved into this festival that some estimate produces more than a half-billion dollars a year."

Attendance is also hard to gauge, but every Mardi Gras hotels are full, or close to it, Schultz said.

"The city will be virtually sold out," Schulz said. "Mardi Gras and music, especially on the international scene, are our big sells."

In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, more than 100 parades roll into New Orleans and its suburbs. The big parading clubs, like Rex, Zulu, Bacchus, Endymion, Orpheus and Muses, hire Kern's studio to build the floats. Smaller clubs make their own by decorating trailers with everything from paint to crepe paper.

Hardy said more than 100,000 people ride in parades each year, and each rider can spend as much as $2,000 to $3,000 in fees, costumes and throws. Thousands more are spent on king cakes and the grand balls and parties, he said.

"It's a money-maker for the city, but that's not why we do it," Hardy said. "We do it because we like to celebrate. It's a free party we give ourselves and our guests."

There's big money in it. Major parade krewes often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Kern's studio make their floats. Depending on whether the floats are being built from the ground up or repurposed, the price can range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.

Kern declines to say just how much revenue his company takes in annually. But over the years the floats have become larger and more ornate, and more expensive.

They can be as high as 18 feet and up to 50 feet long, carry dozens of riders and be wired with electricity for decorative lights and moving parts. Teams of painters, artists and sculptors make props and decorations that will be attached to the floats. Music-themed floats can include props of Louis Armstrong and local favorite Professor Longhair. Some are modeled after characters in Greek mythology, such as the Muses of dance, poetry, music and other arts.

It takes an entire year to prepare enough floats to roll through the streets of New Orleans and its suburbs, Kern said.

"It's a constant process," Kern said. "It's like an assembly line."

With the revelry of Fat Tuesday at hand, Kern's preparation for Mardi Gras 2013 has already begun.

"We already have all the designs for all our major clients for 2013, and we've already got props and things picked out," Kern said. "Literally, the day after Mardi Gras, we're back to work and the process gets started almost immediately."

Besides Mardi Gras, Kern's studio has clients in Japan, Korea and theme parks across the country.

"There are a lot of municipalities all over the world that want to copy what we do here in New Orleans because it drives tourism," Kern said.

Besides float-building, Kern's studio is a tourist attraction. Tour guides take visitors through Mardi Gras World's displays and to see sculptors and artists at work.

"I'm awestruck by some of the props," said Debra Sanders, of North Sioux City, S.D., just after her tour of Mardi Gras World recently. "It was very nice, very entertaining. I enjoyed it."

Paul Thompson, of Cheshire, England, said he was surprised by the quality of the work.

"It was very intricate and very colorful, much more professional than what you would surmise from a once-a-year Carnival," Thompson said. "It's quite amazing."

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