Weathering The Weather

Don’t like the weather in New Orleans? Just wait a minute, it will change. The weather has always been a factor in the Justice For All Ball – whether heat, rain, winds, tropical storms or hurricanes – the JFAB has learned to weather the weather.

When the board decided to hold the first JFAB in 1989, they chose the first Friday after Labor Day as the standing day for the Ball. As a result, the JFAB became the kick-off event to the Fall Social Season in the metro area. There were few other events scheduled so close to Labor Day, and so that placed the Ball in the limelight. It also placed the JFAB right smack in the middle of the hurricane season.

It’s hard to believe that in 30 years, only two JFABs were cancelled: 1998 and 2005.

In 1998, Tropical Storm Frances began to blow through the Gulf South beginning on September 8th, spewing wind and rain across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. The storm created pockets of flooding throughout southern Louisiana and the coastal areas. As rain began to pound the area surrounding the Crescent City, the Mayor moved into high alert to protect the city and its citizens. The Ball was scheduled for Friday, September 11th with Gallier Hall already decorated to the nines, and waiting to receive the evening’s guests.

After much deliberation, and dozens of calls from restaurants and others working behind the scenes to produce the JFAB, Ball Co-Chair Madeline Landrieu made the decision that it was better to cancel the Ball than to risk injury to any Ball patrons or providers – many who were unable to get through the rapidly flooding streets.

The news media jumped on board to help The Project inform guests that the Ball would not go on due to imminent flooding. In spite of the efforts to contact party-goers, a few brave souls turned out, only to find that the plug had been pulled on the evening.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devasted the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. As if that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Rita folowed on Katrina’s heels adding more damage to an already ravaged area.

There was no hope of having the Ball that year, and indeed, it was miracle that the 2006 Ball occurred in a city still wading through and recovering from the severe destruction of the two storms. For more on JFAB 2005 and 2006, check out Mark Surprenant’s entry to Tales of the Ball.

Supporters graciously allowed The Project to keep the funds raised through ticket and sponsorship sales, helping us to weather the aftermath of Frances, Katrina and Rita.

Since Katrina, the Ball date has been moved to the third Friday of the September, or as soon after that date as possible. This year, The Project celebrates the 30th anniversary Ball on Friday, October 5th, when hopefully, the weather will fully cooperate, providing some cool air to relieve us of the hotter than usual summer we’ve experienced this year.

If you have a JFAB story to share, please send it to CC Kahr