Survival Guide to Living Near Jazz Fest – Mid-City Messenger
After a few years of pent-up demand among festival fans, crowds are pouring in for the long-awaited New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Fest typically draws around 500,000 people – more than the entire population of New Orleans – to the fairgrounds over the two long weekends.
Throughout the seven days of Jazz Fest, surrounding neighborhoods can expect road closures, traffic delays and heavy foot traffic. The New Orleans Police Department will limit vehicular traffic around the festival, and additional intermittent street closures may be required if crowd sizes warrant.
Below are some phone numbers and other information Jazz Fest neighbors need to survive the next two weekends.
But above all, enjoy the Fest. Take some music. Invite your neighbors over if you’re boiling crawfish or just drinking a beer on your porch while watching the crowds go by.
On Locals Thursday (May 5), residents can purchase one or two tickets for that day for $50 each. They are only available at the door and with state identification.
As music lovers invade the Fair Grounds Racecourse, a restricted area will be in place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on festival days. Vehicles without a residence permit will not be permitted within the limits of Mystery Street, Fortin Street, Gentilly Boulevard, Esplanade Avenue and Grand Route St. John.
Remember, these are not parking passes; they simply allow access through the barricades on holidays to get to your place. Parking is always a challenge – and parking patrols are in effect on holidays.
Calling the NAT line
The Neighborhood Action Hotline (NAT) provided by the Jazz Fest organization is available to report any Fest-related issues in the neighborhood.
A 2018 survey of Bayou St. John neighbors found that in addition to traffic, excessive noise and litter are top neighbor concerns. Many have also complained about the pushy vendors near the fairgrounds.
Intrusion can be processed quickly; do not hesitate to call the NAT line to report it.
Street groups are part of the Jazz Fest experience. However, groups that are in the same place all day will be asked to move it around a bit, so that a neighbor can have peace while they can entertain festival-goers and earn some money.
The only department that can answer Illegal sellers is the revenue department, which deals with the inside of the festival grounds. The NOPD cannot do anything about illegal sellers unless they are trespassing, disorderly or displaying threatening behavior.
If there are illegal vendors with neighborhood access passes, NOPD and Jazz Fest folks can work to get their vehicle removed. The FSJNA has discovered that some neighbors are selling their passes.
When calling the NAT line, please provide clear and accurate information, especially if you need to leave a message. Tell the NAT operator:
• Where the incident or situation is occurring (street address if available)
• Who is involved (number of individuals, description of clothing, description of vehicle, etc.)
• What happens (vendors, intrusions, illegal parking, disturbance, etc.)
Also provide a callback number (you don’t have to leave your name) so that the NAT operator can call you if additional information is needed. Attempts will be made to notify callers of the status of their complaint. If you do not receive a callback, call back the NAT line and request the status.
An NOPD officer on traffic duty may report an incident, but he must remain where he is. NAT line operators can send information to agents who can respond.
If a car is blocking your driveway and needs to be towed, you can call the city’s parking enforcement office directly at 504-658-8100. Parking problems can also be reported to the NAT line.
For emergency and crime reports, dial 911.
Post-festival issues, especially noise, should be resolved by the First District NOPD. Do not hesitate to report call 911 or the non-emergency line at 504-821-2222. You can also call the First District directly at 504-658-6010.
Lyft and Uber: The Lyft and Uber “Geofence” will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Jazz Fest days. The boundaries of the Geofence are approximately Bayou St John, Orleans Avenue, North Broad Street, Gentilly Boulevard and DeSaix Street. Lyft and Uber pickups and drop-offs are scheduled in Gentilly and Paris, St. Bernard and Broad, and Ursulines and Broad.
Taxi: During the Fest, taxis are only permitted to drop off and pick up at designated taxi ranks at Parc Fortier on Avenue de l’Esplanade and Stallings Playground on Boulevard Gentilly.
Bikes: Bicycle parking areas are located next to the entrances to the Piéton Gentilly and Rue Sauvage Piéton festival. Blue Bikes will also have drop zones at these entrances.
RTA: RTA routes may experience delays or detours during the festival. All RTA service alerts, updates and deviations can be accessed by downloading the RTA’s GoMobile app. For more information, visit www.norta.com or call Ride Line at 504-248-3900.