State sets celebration 200 years in the making

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NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana has never been shy about celebrating its culture and heritage, and 2003 offers the state a grand opportunity to take center stage.

Next year marks the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase, a deal cut by Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon in April 1803.

Two hundred years later, Louisiana is planning a year-long celebration to commemorate the event as follows.

• The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Conference will be held Jan. 22 to 25 at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans. The educational conference will focus on the purchase and its impact on issues of race, gender, ethnicity and national identity. For registration information, visit www.louisianapurchase2003.org.

• Gray Line New Orleans will offer the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Tour all year. The tours will depart at 1 p.m. every day, beginning Jan. 2, from the Gray Line Ticket Booth (Lighthouse) at Toulouse Street and the Mississippi River.

The tour includes the Cabildo Museum in Jackson Square, the site of the transfer ceremonies, and the convent of the Ursuline nuns, who were visited by President Andrew Jackson to express his thanks for their help in colonizing New Orleans.

The two-and-a-half-hour tour costs $24 for adults and $12 for children. Call (800) 535-7786, Ext. 719. Commission is 10%.

Louisiana is planning a yearlong celebration of events and festivals for the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Above, St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans' Jackson Square. • The Louisiana Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge will display the original Louisiana Purchase documents, on loan from the National Archives in Washington.

Also on display will be the original Treaty of Cession in French, the signature of the Convention for Payment of 60 million francs and the Senate Resolution of Advice and Consent on the proposal.

For more information, call (225) 342-0500 or visit the Web at www.sec.state.la.us/museums/osc/osc/osc-index.htm.

• The 2003 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, to be held April 26 to 28 and May 2 to 5, will have a bicentennial theme. This year, the festival will have exhibits and panel discussion groups on the Louisiana Purchase.

The festival schedule will be released and tickets will go on sale in early April. Destination Management will be selling packages that are commissionable to travel agents at 10%.

For more information, call (800) 380-FEST or visit www.nojazzfest.com.

• Bicentennial exhibits will be featured at a number of other museums statewide, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Botanical Garden at City Park and Jackson Square, all in New Orleans; the Alexandria Museum of Art in Alexandria (the "Heart of Spain" exhibit); the University Art Museum in Lafayette; and the Louisiana Arts and Science Center in Baton Rouge.

General information on bicentennial plans can be found at the Louisiana Office of Tourism's Web site at www.louisianatravel.com or at www.louisianapurchase2003.com.

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