ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – A celebration of New Orleans culture will take on a more somber tone Monday, as plans for a large party at the Republican convention has been scaled back because of Hurricane Gustav.
Gustav is set to make landfall at sunrise, potentially delivering a devastating blow to New Orleans, which is still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city causing massive death and destruction.
The “New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya” was designed to highlight the city’s culture as well as bring attention to the ongoing reconstruction efforts. It is being paid for by a diverse group of companies ranging from Roll Call newspaper, PhRMA, and the National Restaurant Association and featured New Orleans musicians, an open bar and cuisine that has helped to put the city on the map. The musicians will still play, but the drinks are no longer free and they are scaling back on the food.
Instead the focus will now be on raising money for relief organizations that are expected to be overwhelmed once the storm passes as well as educating the 1,500 people that are expected to attend the event about the needs of the region.
“We want to make sure we are talking about what needs to happen for long-term protection of the city and to sustain a long term building effort,” said Emily Byram, executive director of the Friends of New Orleans, which is organizing the event.