In New Orleans, Storyland Characters Wait Quietly In New Orleans' sprawling City Park, the Old Woman in a Shoe and other childhood characters await Storyland's reopening after Hurricane Katrina. But first, park officials are working on restoring the botanical gardens, a popular wedding venue.
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In New Orleans, Storyland Characters Wait Quietly

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In New Orleans, Storyland Characters Wait Quietly

In New Orleans, Storyland Characters Wait Quietly

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Go west from Honeysuckle Lane into the heart of New Orleans. City Park is a vast space, green and graced by live oak trees and Spanish moss. For half a century a favorite spot for young visitors to the park has been Storyland, the home of nursery rhymes. NPR's Noah Adams went to see how Storyland got through the storm.

NOAH ADAMS reporting:

George Parker is the Storyland manager, and when he came back into City Park, there was still lots of standing water around. He was worried about his "Mother Goose" characters. But Storyland lives without apparent damage, the familiar figures and structures providing happy colors amid the fallen tree limbs and the brown grass.

What are we looking at right here? What is this?

Mr. GEORGE PARKER (Storyland Manager): This is Peter Pan. This is the pirate ship. You can see there's Peter Pan and Captain Hook on top of the mast. This was just refurbished last year, so we're so glad that survived. As you can see, the paints are so vibrant in this one compared to some of the other exhibits.

ADAMS: Yeah, it looks great.

Inside Storyland, the nursery rhymes become touchable. The mast of the pirate ship soars up into the trees. Pinocchio is perched on the head of a blue whale. Several kids can sit in the whale's mouth, or they can climb to the top of Jack and Jill's slide. Mother Goose flies high over a gingerbread house and a large pink boot, the home of another favorite lade.

Mr. PARKER: The old woman in the shoe, and you can see the branch right across the top of it. I hope it's not bad. It doesn't look bad on this side. It looks pretty solid.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

ADAMS: We're walking alongside the Storyland fence. Mr. Parker hasn't been able to get a crew inside to start cleaning up. The big push at City Park is trying to get the botanical gardens ready for weddings. The brides-to-be are calling every day, but for the moment the botanicals are brown. And once that's fixed, it's hoped, the gates of Storyland will swing open again.

Mr. PARKER: This was here for your kids. This will be for my kids and my kids' kids. The "Mother Goose" nursery rhymes and the classic storybook stories will be around for all time.

ADAMS: The official word from George Parker, manager of this one small part of City Park in New Orleans: Storyland will always be here. Noah Adams, NPR News, New Orleans.

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