Earn CEUs and certifications while in New Orleans

NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La., at the Hyatt Regency, New Orleans is the perfect event to earn CEUs or even prepare to add a new certification to your resume.

With a wide range of sessions and workshops to choose from, attendees at this year’s event can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.  Workshops include the ever popular CRC Workshop, the CRR Boot Camp, the Punctuation Workshop, and the CLVS Certification Workshop, which features the Intro to CLVS and CLVS Hands-on Training.

This year’s schedule is chock-full of cutting-edge educational sessions led by some of the profession’s key leaders and experts. Take a sneak peak at some of what’s being offered below in the words of the presenters.


Theater Captioning 101

Linda S. Hershey, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Chattanooga, Tenn.

There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing live theater – Les Miserables, Wicked, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Whether you are tackling a play on Broadway, a traveling production, a local theater performance, or even a performance at a high school, access means so much to so many people. This seminar will cover the different types of productions, the equipment needed, placement of equipment, working with a director, how to use the script, how to prep, and the other nuts and bolts of theater captioning. Attendees will also find out about specific ethics that must be considered, including copyright issues. This session will have plenty of time for specific Q&A.​


Being Proactive, Not Reactive

Cindy L. Isaacsen RPR, official court reporter from Olathe, Kan.

Do you feel unprepared and not sure what to do when state and local government want to get rid of us? Are you prepared to fight? This will be an interactive, fun, and encouraging session about what we all can do to be proactive to protect our jobs through educating our legislators, community leaders, judges, lawyers, and the general public. I’ll give many examples of how each one of us can assist our state boards and our state and national associations. Be prepared to laugh, be inspired, encouraged, and take some great ideas home to share with your association and other reporters. There will be a Q&A session,  as well as prizes distributed throughout the session!


The Good, the Bad, and the Embarrassing!

Teresa Evans, RMR, CRR, freelance court reporter and agency owner, Charleston, W.V.

Have you ever misspelled a word in a transcript and were humiliated when you realized it was too late to correct it? Since we make our living with words, we’ve got to get them right! Don’t embarrass yourself with lack of knowledge or depend upon spellcheck or a proofreader to cover your rear. There are things you just have to know, and we will teach you in this advanced homonym seminar!

See if you can pick out the errors in this sentence: “He was a trooper, the way he handled his forced immigration to another country, based solely on his principles.” If you don’t see two errors, you need our course. Make it a goal this year to showcase your knowledge and make everything you write perfect.


The Challenges of Online Teaching 

Jeff Moody, President, College of Court Reporting, Valparaiso, Ind.

Many reporters and prospective students do not believe that the court reporting skill and knowledge can be developed in an online college environment. Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., will demonstrate how everything a teacher does in a brick-and-mortar classroom can be done effectively online. Moody, with members of his staff and some students, will conduct an interactive discussion/demonstration regarding online teaching. The advantages and disadvantages regarding online distance education will be discussed. Participants will be registered in an online learning management system (LMS) to interact with teachers using proven academic and skill-development methodologies. Topics will include motivation, testing, attendance, feedback, professionalism, interaction, and camaraderie between teachers and students in teaching all required court reporting courses. Attendees can bring their laptops to this seminar.


Attendees also won’t want to miss the new Saturday night Member Recognition Gala that will feature a wonderful night of dinner, drinks, dancing, and celebrating NCRA members. The Gala and a special VIP reception are both being hosted by President-Elect Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC. Guests are free to dress up or dress business casual for the gala and are encouraged to join in celebrating the profession along with sharing their stories.

Other notables on this year’s schedule include a student learning zone that features a special meet-and-greet with NCRA’s Board of Directors; Ethics Jeopardy, where participants will have fun while testing their knowledge; a look at the future of court reporting; and a special presentation that showcases the Innocence Project New Orleans, which works to free the wrongfully convicted. The session will also highlight the importance of old records.

And don’t forget the numerous networking opportunities that range from coffee with the vendors on the Expo floor to nightly receptions.

NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, students, and other legal services professionals. Register now for the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo before July 23 to avoid late fees. Reserve a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans using NCRA’s special discount rate by July 6 and get a free breakfast on Friday and Saturday (a $75 value).

To jazz things up even more, check out this party playlist of songs selected by NCRA staff to get everyone excited to meet in New Orleans!

For more information about the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention.


For sponsorship information please contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs, at mpetto@ncra.org.


Join NCRA in June and you might win a Kindle Fire

Anyone who joins NCRA for the first time in June will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire.

NCRA member benefits include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR magazine and the JCR Weekly online newsletter
  • Access to multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Take advantage of NCRA member discounts for exams and premier events
  • Access discounts for a variety of suppliers, with no cost to sign up, through the NCRA Saving Center
  • Save on NCRA Store items like the RPR Study Guide, a comprehensive guide written by testing experts
  • Stay protected with Mercer insurance, including cyber liability insurance, health insurance, equipment insurance, pet insurance, and errors and omissions insurance
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 2-5, 2018)



Parker Burton

New NCRA member and court reporting student wins Kindle

In April, Parker Burton, from Atlanta, Ga., won the drawing for a Kindle Fire 8 by joining NCRA. Burton is a first quarter student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga. The JCR reached out to him to learn more about why he is pursuing a career in court reporting and what advice he has for other court reporting and captioning students.


JCR | Why did you choose court reporting as a career?

Burton | My initial inspiration of court reporting was from my aunt who was a long-time court reporter who lived in New Orleans, La. However, since being enrolled at Brown College, my current inspirations have been my awesome instructors,  Todd Vansel and Bob Tanner, CRI, who have been guiding me and offering the best advice on improving my skills and helping guide my career paths.


JCR | What is your current speed?

Burton | As a first quarter student, my speed at this point is at only about 30 wpm but I am working on it daily to get that up little by little weekly.


JCR | What inspired you to join NCRA?

Burton | Very shortly after I started school, I joined NCRA because I am very excited to attend the upcoming convention in my hometown of New Orleans, and to network with other professionals in the field.


Joining NCRA is easy and available online at NCRA.org/join. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.


12 Constitution & Bylaws amendments to be voted on at Annual Business Meeting

NCRA members will have the opportunity to vote on twelve amendments to the Constitution & Bylaws during the Annual Business Meeting on Aug. 2. The proposed bylaws amendments are available through NCRA’s website. The amendments range from minor, including cleaning up some repetitive language, to more substantial, such as streamlining the voting procedures for amendments and elections. In addition, one amendment proposes changing NCRA’s name to National Captioners and Reporters Association to be inclusive of the captioning profession.

NumberNameBenefitAdditional Information
1Voting for Officers and Board of DirectorsIncreases the voting window for elections to 24 hoursArticle
2Voting on Bylaws AmendmentsIncreases the voting window on Bylaws amendments to 24 hoursArticle
3Clarification of electoral processAttaches the preparation of the slate of nominees to the election process instead of the conventionArticle
4Elections when more than two candidates are running for the same positionAllows Voting Members to choose from among all duly nominated candidatesArticle
5Number of Directors on the BoardSupports financial integrity of the Association and creates more efficiencies
6Clarification of the timing of terms of officeTies the timing of the office to the Annual Business Meeting
7Elimination of requirement to include a consumer or public member as part of the Council of the Academy of Court Reporters (CAPR)Removes a requirement to have a public member on CAPR
8Clarification of electronic mail votingSimplifies the language
9Removal of reference to electronic voting in a business meetingSimplifies the language
10Definition of Voting MembersSimplifies the language, as all Voting Members vote by electronic means
11Name changeBetter reflects the current and future status of the professionArticle
12Meeting referenceEstablishes Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised as the parliamentary authority for all NCRA business meetings

The Constitution & Bylaws permits all eligible NCRA voting members to vote through electronic means on Bylaws amendments and contested Board of Directors elections. Members who are eligible to vote will be able to sign in to the secure website and vote through a private, secure link during the 12-hour voting period, which should open within two hours of the end of the Annual Business Meeting. Members who are interested in voting must have an active email address on file in NCRA’s membership database.

Members attending the Annual Business Meeting will also be voting on new members of the Board.

The Annual Business Meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, Aug. 2. The Annual Business Meeting will be held in conjunction with NCRA’s Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Eligible voting members will check in and receive a ballot and information starting at 8 a.m.

PROMOTING THE PROFESSION: Passion for captioning and court reporting showcased at high school career day

Cindi Lynch

Earlier this spring, Cindi Lynch, training program manager for Stenograph, based in Elmhurst Ill., and Sharon Vartanian, RPR, a district sales manager for the company, spent a few hours promoting the captioning and court reporting professions at a career day held at Prospect High School in Saratoga. Calif. Lynch, who is well-known for her enthusiasm for the court reporting profession, has a sister-in-law who teaches English at the high school. She passed along Lynch’s information to one of the school’s career specialists. Lynch was asked if she would give a presentation to a group of their students, and she readily accepted. Vartanian, who represents Stenograph in the area, and Lynch also enlisted the help of NCRA member Maggie Ortiz, manager of the court reporting program at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., and Tobi Giluso, a high-speed student from the program.

Sharon Vartanian


JCR | What did you do to prepare?

SV | Cindi put the word out on social media and spoke with people working with the A to Z program and with Project Steno to get their input on similar presentations they had done in the past. Cindi took that information and then put together a brief presentation based on the information she had gathered.

CL | Sharon thought it would be a great idea if we asked the court reporting program at the local college to also participate in the presentation, and she took on the task of gathering representatives from West Valley College to join us.


JCR | What was the event like?

SV | Cindi’s presentation focused on what a court reporter is, where and how reporters, captioners and CART providers work, and the basic principles of machine shorthand.

Tobi captioned the presentation. She did an excellent job, and the high school students were able to see firsthand the skills of a reporter/captioner. (Tobi has passed all her qualifiers and will be taking the state exam this July.)

Maggie Ortiz, court reporting program manager, talked about West Valley College’s specific program and gave current information about earning potential in the local area. In 2017, West Valley also started offering a free court reporting course through Silicon Valley Adult Education. Maggie explained how the high school students could immediately take advantage of this free course before graduating high school to learn the theory of steno writing. The course is designed to give students a head start in the West Valley court reporting program.

There was a small, but very interested, group of juniors and seniors in attendance, as well as parents, teachers, and teacher aides. We were pleased that we had a wide range of panelists to answer questions during the Q&A session. Maggie addressed school questions, Tobi answered student and CART questions, and Sharon was able to address working as a freelance court reporter.


JCR | How did it go? Did people seem interested?

CL | We were really pleased with the presentation and how warmly it was received. Both the students and the adults were very interested. We were asked a lot of thoughtful, smart questions and it was clear to us that they had paid close attention to the information they’d been given.

We brought a few Luminex writers with us. At the end of the presentation, the students eagerly waited in line to have their first experience of writing on a steno machine.


JCR | You are both such professionals, you’re probably prepared for anything. But did anything surprise you? Can you tell us about that?

CL and SV | No surprises. We put a lot of effort into being well prepared. We were delighted we had male and female attendees.

One person we had consulted while preparing for the presentation advised us to bring food, especially candy for the kids. We rewarded the attendees for asking questions by giving them candy bars. While we know rewarding for candy works, we were amazed at how well it works.


JCR | What advice would you give others about telling people about careers in court reporting and captioning?

CL and SV | Show your passion for the profession; it’s infectious. The attendees appreciated the fact that all of us who spoke at the event had been around the profession most of our lives and were excited to talk about it. When you love what you do, it definitely comes through. Convey how much support they can expect from the court reporting community. Communicate how much we need them and want them to join us in this fabulous career.


JCR | Is there anything else you would like to share?

CL and SV | We were well-received by the teachers and career specialist at Prospect High, and they expressed an interest in having us come back in the future to talk to additional students. They also asked for more information from Maggie so that they could partner with West Valley College. This made us very happy. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from our presentation!


Cindi Lynch can be reached at CLynch@Stenograph.com. Sharon Vartanian can be reached at SVartanian@Stenograph.com.

From the President: NCRA announces new Strategic Plan

By Chris Willette

NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC

It is with excitement and pride that I announce that the NCRA’s Board of Directors has adopted a new Strategic Plan. We will unveil our new plan on Aug. 2 during NCRA’s Annual Business Meeting. The months-long process included collaboration, debate, and envisioning exercises by the Board and NCRA staff as they relate to the changing industry, the need for growth, and the health and direction of the Association. Throughout our conversations, Executive Director and CEO Marcia Ferranto encouraged us to find and focus on our “true north.”

Although the entire Strategic Plan will remain under wraps for a few more weeks, I want to provide a brief overview of the highlights. The Plan will be supported by three pillars: financial sustainability, branding, and certification. The financial goal will seek to balance the budget over the next three years, and a big piece of that will include NCRA’s Corporate Partnership Program. Branding will consist of updating the image of stenography and creating greater awareness of the court reporting and captioning professions. Certification – and here I pause for emphasis – is our true north. NCRA’s certification program is truly how we showcase steno as the standard for capturing and converting the spoken word to text. Centering our future on certification means both encouraging members to seek and maintain their certifications and informing our consumers that a certified stenographer is the best method for their needs.

The new Strategic Plan will establish the direction for the Association for the next three years, and we are looking forward to all the success that this plan will bring to our members. Please join us at the Annual Business Meeting on Aug. 2 during the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo to learn more details.


Call for Altruism Award nominations

Nominations are now being accepted for the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, the highest honor awarded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. The deadline for nominations is June 15.

The Aurelio Award, which is presented at the NCRA Convention & Expo, is bestowed on a longtime captioner or court reporter who has given back selflessly to the profession or community. The nominee must be an NCRA Participating or Registered member or a Retired Participating or Registered member, have demonstrated altruistic behavior, and have been a working captioner or reporter for at least 25 years.

“Receiving the Aurelio Award was truly one of the highlights of my career as a court reporter. Having the respect of my court reporter colleagues means more to me than anything,” said Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, San Diego, Calif., who received the Altruism Award in 2017.

“Being altruistic is not anything I ever decided to do. I think life is more fun helping people in my wonderful profession,” Kramm added.

For questions or more information about the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or at bjshorak@ncra.org.

Nominate now.

Fast fingers: Demand for court reporters is high

The Brainerd Dispatch, Brainerd, Minn., posted an article on May 26 about the demand for court reporters that features interviews with several NCRA members about the profession.

Read more.

One time in New Orleans: A local’s guide to the city

New Orleans is celebrating its tricentennial in 2018 with the theme of “One time in New Orleans…” where they are asking visitors and locals to share their stories about New Orleans. NCRA Board Member Max Curry shares his story about what he loves about the city, his favorite restaurants and watering holes, activities to do, and invites everyone to come experience New Orleans for themselves during Convention. Max has many, many suggestions on how you can Write Your Own Story in NOLA!

By Max Curry

My family is rich with the tradition and culture of our beloved profession. My sister Betty and I are both court reporters, and my niece Melissa is currently training to become a reporter. Anytime my family gets together, they know there are the obligatory discussions of court reporting, current cases we are working on, and new technology and writing techniques. However, long before knowing this profession, we were steeped deep in the culture of our environment and home, New Orleans and South Louisiana, a.k.a. French Acadiana.

To be from South Louisiana and/or NOLA is to know a deep love of family, food, socializing (it’s where I get it from), parties, Mardi Gras, amazing food, amazing drinks, strong friendships, deep spirituality, and a love of nature. My sisters and I all have the commonality of nature and gardening in our blood — a love of flowers, useful plants, vegetable gardens, beautiful yards, Louisiana courtyards, and accessories for such! Think Steel Magnolias + one brother, and you’ll get the picture! Note: It is part of the reason I have thick skin and a quick wit.

The number one thing for a party or backyard cookout for NOLA, but especially Acadiana, is to never ever run out of food! You will never go hungry at a Louisiana party or cookout. The food is amazing and a competition among everyone as to who has the best recipes! “God bless your heart, but my grandmother’s brother’s recipe for jambalaya is much better.” You can say anything you want in the South (especially Louisiana) as long as it is prefaced with “God bless your heart…”

I’ve asked family and South Louisiana friends (loosely translated to family as well) to share one or two of their individual loves of NOLA and South Louisiana, what they each want you to experience for yourself or learn about us and our culture while our guests in August, and I’ve incorporated those thoughts into this article. Get ready, ’cause everybody had strong opinions and a lot to share. So here goes!

The common thread everyone touched on is our culture! It is a unique, distinguished culture steeped in proudly being Louisiana Southerners. When people ask me what I love about NOLA, my immediate answer is that it is the only place in the continental U.S. I have been that feels like I have left the U.S. and gone to Europe. Standing in a street in the Quarter, you know exactly where you are, and it feels very different than anywhere else. There is an open-minded vibe for you to just be who you are, to love and celebrate your life, and to let your hair and guard down, breathe, and relax. You can do what we were meant to do, celebrate life and enjoy living. When the stresses of our profession become too much, I occasionally go for a massage; but more often than not, I just plan a long weekend and take off (like right this moment to write this article) and head home to my Lady and relax. If you want and/or need to unplug, recharge, and get your mojo back, you just found it: It’s NOLA!

Read Max’s recommendations for cultural experiences in NOLA and/or South Louisiana.

Read Max’s restaurant recommendations for New Orleans.

Read Max’s favorite bars, hangouts, and dance clubs in New Orleans.

Read Max’s miscellaneous things to know and fun things to do.

I know Convention can be an expensive investment between the travel arrangements, hotel, event registration, fun events, etc., but convention is a lot more than just getting CEUs. It is an opportunity to further develop your circle of connections in the reporting community — to network and develop those connections that might just yield work you wouldn’t have known about or had access to otherwise. It is also an opportunity to grow and challenge yourself as a reporter through introduction of the latest and greatest technology and writing techniques that may just be the thing to help up your game to the next level. It certainly has mine!

I hope you will join us in August as my Beautiful Lady, New Orleans, hosts court reporters from around the world as NCRA prepares to offer an incredible educational and networking experience, all while in a city known for her parties, amazing food and drinks, but ultimately a relaxing escape from the realities of life! If you need a getaway to relax and recharge, I hope you will escape with NCRA in August and find yourself again in NOLA!

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at max@elitereportingservices.com.

Register now.


One time in New Orleans: Max Curry’s miscellaneous things to know and fun things to do

New Orleans architecture

New Orleans street cars

New Orleans Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral

New Orleans City Park






New Orleans Mardi Gras







By Max Curry

  1. Remember, you can carry an open drink anywhere in NOLA, but it has to be in a plastic or paper container – no glass containers on the streets outside of the bars or restaurants.
  2. Catch the St. Charles street car and ride down into the Garden District to see all the beautiful homes, oak trees, and architecture.
  3. If you have your family and/or children with you, head out to City Park and Audubon Zoo for the afternoon. There are several ancient live oaks in the park that are amazingly beautiful and a great site for pictures.
  4. Enjoy the Riverwalk and Crescent Park at Jackson Square and watch the mighty Mississippi River rush by, along with the paddle wheel riverboats. It is a great escape back into the beauty of nature, all just a few steps from the hustle-bustle of the Quarter.
  5. Enjoy coffee and some beignets while relaxing in Jackson Square in front of the Cathedral. There is some amazing people-watching right there, as well as being beautiful and relaxing in its own right.
  6. While in Jackson Square, be sure to walk around the periphery of the Square and enjoy all the amazing artists, performers, and shops, and have your fortune told in front of St. Louis Cathedral.
  7. Be sure to walk into the Cathedral and take a peek. St. Louis Cathedral was completed in 1720 and is the oldest cathedral still in active use in the U.S. If you have a chance to attend Mass, even if you’re not Catholic, it is a worthwhile experience. Life is all about the experiences, right?
  8. If you are standing in front of the church, the alley to your left is called Pirate’s Alley. It is a must for all visitors. You can find the stories about this alley on the Internet and/or any of the walking tours you go on in the city. A few good restaurants and bars are here, all hidden away in the shadows of the Cathedral.
  9. The Old Absinthe Bar (not House on Bourbon) is in Pirate’s Alley as well, and it’s fun to watch their mixology in action. Sit at one of the outside tables to people-watch and quench your thirst in the late afternoon/early evening hours. (As a side note, I’m here now writing this article, so it is one of my favorite hangouts too.)
  10. Also, if you are looking for a mask for the Saturday night masquerade NCRA is hosting to celebrate our members, there is a shop in Pirate’s Alley I always go to to either buy or compare to all the other mask shops. I bought my mask for the masquerade here. They hand make all the added details, feathers, and sequins, and at a very surprisingly affordable price. Lots of mask shops all over the Quarter, though, but this one is my go-to.
  11. Leave Jackson Square at this point and head across the street to the French Market. Food and drink opportunities, as well as shopping, all in a crossroads of Louisiana culture, await you in the French Market.
  12. At the end of the French Market, stroll onto Esplanade and enjoy this beautiful avenue of ancient oaks and French Quarter architecture. It is one of my favorite streets in NOLA.
  13. While in this area, if you love plants, botanicals, fountains, yard accessories, etc., you have got to stop by the American Aquatic Gardens over on Elysian Fields Avenue. I never go without bringing a new plant or piece of yard art home with me. James calls it my “NOLA Mothership.”

Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at max@elitereportingservices.com.


One time in New Orleans: Max Curry recommends cultural experiences

By Max Curry

For an experience of culture in NOLA and/or South Louisiana, the following are recommended.

Plantation tour along the Mississippi River
Whichever tour you choose to do, they all cover the big plantation houses and gardens from NOLA to Baton Rouge. There are another couple plantations just past Baton Rouge (one of which is listed on “Ghost Hunters” as one of the most haunted places in the U.S., The Myrtles.) If you have all day, it is worth adding to your tour. Otherwise, just stick with the tours that cover from NOLA to Houma, which is just south of Baton Rouge. It is about a half-day tour, but a great cultural experience. You must see Oak Alley (featured in Interview with a Vampire), and Houma’s House (the most amazing Gone-With-the-Wind meets 12-Oaks landscaping you will ever see). Both plantations have amazing restaurants paired with them as well, so have a light breakfast and plan to arrive for your mid-morning meal hungry… and enjoy!

Swamp tour
I know this sounds a little dirty and creepy, maybe even a little scary, but the swamp tour is a fun and beautiful tour of the surrounding swamps of NOLA, some of which is by airboat, so dress appropriately. You get to see the beauty of the natural environment around NOLA: the moss, the beautiful trees, the swamp flowers, and the wildlife that call the swamp home. You will learn about our unique environment. You will rave to your friends back home about this experience. After all, a life well lived is a series of great experiences.

The cemetery tour
NOLA and South Louisiana are known for their beautiful above-ground cemeteries. The water table is so close to the ground in NOLA, you can’t bury underground or when it gets very moist with rain in the spring, storms, and/or hurricanes, the dead will revisit you — and I don’t mean in the haunted way. Long ago New Orleanians learned through necessity to bury above ground, not below. There is an amazing process to this whole ritual within families that you learn about, and how the process works over the period of one year. I will leave the rest to your tour, but it is extremely interesting and eerily beautiful as well. Make sure any tour you take includes Lafayette Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2. If they don’t, skip it. Find another tour that includes them.

A haunted New Orleans tour
NOLA is famous for lots of things, but among the most famous are the stories of ghosts, zombies, vampires, witches, werewolves (known in Louisiana as the Rougaroux), and voodoo! Any one of these subjects alone for a city to be famous for would be a lot, but NOLA is contending with stories and events surrounding all six — and sometimes it is all six together! Think of Dynasty meets Dallas meets The Shining meets American Werewolf in London having a muddy battle royale in the swamp, and you’re getting a clear picture! NOLA is the crossroads in America of the bizarre. Almost all these tours are walking tours; a few are by bike, buggy, or Segway. You can find tours that address any one of these subjects individually, or ones that have a cross section of a few or all of them combined. Come thirsty and plan to have a lot of fun on these tours, learn a little bit of history, and get the bejezus scared out of you along the way.

This is one of the few times I will give a specific recommendation in this article. If you are interested in a tour that addresses all subjects, is well done, and a lot of fun, try the Witches Brew Tour or the Lord Chaz Ghost Tour. When I have friends or family I take on one of these tours in NOLA, I always go with one of these two companies. They all do a good job, but these two provide just a little lagniappe (little something extra, the baker’s dozen).

Historical Quarter tours
There are multiple forms of French Quarter tours you can undertake: 1) on-foot tours; 2) bike tours; 3) horse-drawn buggy tours; 4) Segway tours; 5) Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tours. I haven’t done all of these, but I have heard from family and friends that all are fun and educational. They are also a quick way to get your bearings in the Quarter as to what’s what, what you need to walk back and see and experience as boots on the ground, and what was good once for edification purposes but now you can move on.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
If you have your family along for the trip, another great thing to do with the kids would be New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium. It’s at the start of the French Quarter on the river and Canal Street and very easy to get to. You can’t miss it. The aquarium could take up to half a day to tour if you’re taking your time and reading and observing everything. Kids will love it; the kid in me did.

Cultural development in art, architecture, and antiques
Royal Street is one of the central corridors in the Quarter. It runs parallel with Bourbon Street, just one street over but closer to the river. It’s a lot cleaner and less noisy, and it is an area deeply steeped in culture, beauty, architecture, and antiques. Amazing art shops, old-world antiques, traditional NOLA balconies and building architecture, and street artists abound on Royal. You’ll hear a jazz band playing, then a new-world rendition of jazz one block up, an actor playing at the art of mimicry and/or frozen art, then two blocks down three boys playing drums on 5-gallon buckets that will blow your mind as to how talented they are, as well as people playing and dancing, giving poetry or tarot card readings, and performing Shakespeare. On top of all that, there are lots of places along the way to quench your thirst or fill your stomach with incredible food selections. NOLA’s beautiful Federal Court of Appeals building is on lower Royal as well.

Some of the art shops are amazing. My nephew David’s favorite art shop on Royal Street is Caliche & Pao. There is some beautiful art in this shop, but most of the buildings in the paintings look like they were painted after having one too many wobbly pops (beer or mixed drink). You will see what I mean when you visit. Love their art, though; very fun and jovial. My favorite art shop on Royal is Sutton Gallery. I’ve personally spent way too much money in that shop, but I love their art and the eclectic nature of the artists in this particular gallery. It’s a must-see in my opinion. I stop by every time I’m in the Quarter just to be inspired and amazed!

Riverboat cruises
Two riverboats, the Natchez and the Creole Queen, are docked in NOLA and permanently touring the Mississippi River from the Quarter every day. Both offer day and evening cruises that take you down the river toward the Gulf and then back to the Quarter again. They tend to run as three-hour tours. Each offers a package that is either the cruise alone with a cash bar, or cruise and a meal. I recommend the food on the cruise. They do a first-class job with this fun event, and the tour offers a beautiful view of the swamp and city from the river as well.

Frenchmen Street area
The Frenchmen Street area is a six city-block area that adjoins the French Quarter in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. The southern border of the Quarter is Canal Street, with the northern border being Esplanade. When you cross Esplanade Street, you are now in the Marigny area and only a couple blocks away from Frenchman Street. An easier route would be to walk all the way through the French Market, and at the end of the French Market you are only two blocks from Frenchmen Street in the Marigny.

This is a very eclectic area with a variety of live music venues, clubs, and great restaurants and bars. Many of the people who work in the Quarter live in the Marigny area, and Frenchmen Street is their go-to hangout for relaxation, not the Quarter. This is a place to listen to great music, eat great food, all outside of the party-touristy atmosphere of the Quarter. If you want to see how the locals do it, this is where you go. A tremendous amount of fun there every evening.

Mardi Gras World
It will require a Lyft/Uber ride to get to, but the Mardi Gras World is something everyone needs to see. It is about a two-hour tour, but you learn a lot about the history of the festival and get to see a lot of floats up close and personal. They also have many famous floats from the past. The last time I took friends to the museum, I spotted a float from my childhood. Tons of childhood memories around Mardi Gras here!


Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at max@elitereportingservices.com.