Axios New Orleans

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🌷 It's Tuesday and the first day of spring. Smell the flowers and stock up on your allergy meds.

Today's weather: Chilly morning and then sunny with a high of 60.

It's a great day to contribute to our newsroom by becoming an Axios Local member.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios New Orleans member Margaret Phelps!

🎧 Sounds like: "Hey Hey (Indians Comin')" by The Wild Tchoupitoulas.

Today's newsletter is 828 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🇮🇹 May St. Joseph smile upon you

The St. Joseph's Day altar in Dorignac's features the Sicilian flag, a statue of the saint and many foods with symbolic importance. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

It's St. Joseph's Day and a big deal for Catholic New Orleanians with Italian ancestry.

Why it matters: These celebrations are part of the rich multicultural heritage of the city.

The big picture: St. Joseph's Day is named after Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father to Jesus. It's also Father's Day in Italy.

  • Catholics in New Orleans observe the day by creating altars laden with food to honor the relief St. Joseph provided during a drought in Sicily, the archdiocese says.

Driving the news: The St. Joseph's altars are open to the public and one of the most visible ways the day is celebrated, other than the annual parade.

  • They are usually constructed in the shape of a cross and include a statue of St. Joseph, flowers and the Italian flag colors of red, white and green, the archdiocese says.
  • The altar tables are filled with food of symbolic importance, such as intricate St. Lucy eye pies, Easter lamb cakes, olive oil and bread in the shape of ladders and saws to represent Joseph's carpenter tools.
Photo shows bread shaped like carpenter tools.
The altars feature bread shaped like staffs, saws, hammers, ladders and nails to honor Joseph. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

Zoom in: Lucky beans are one of the many traditions.

  • Fava beans are dried, roasted, blessed and then given to visitors at altars. The superstition is you'll never be broke as long as you carry one.
  • Another legend says if a woman steals a lemon from an altar, she'll be married by the next St. Joseph's Day, according to Uptown Messenger.

If you go: Dozens of churches have altars today.

  • Dorignac's and Rouses also have them in stores. Irene's has one in the Quarter today and tomorrow.
  • Bring a cash donation for a lucky bean, candles and cookies.

Go deeper for more photos of altars

2. New Orleans libraries drop fines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The New Orleans Public Library officially dropped its late fees last week.

Why it matters: The move permanently brings the library in line with a 2019 American Library Association resolution that said late fees get in the way of book borrowing.

Yes, but: You really should still return your books on time.

The big picture: The 2019 resolution came as libraries around the country found that fines disproportionately impacted low-income families and kids, NPR reported.

  • In Chicago, for example, library data showed that nearly a third of South Side residents weren't able to check anything out because they'd hit the $10 limit on late fees, and about 20% of all blocked borrowers were under 14.
  • The analyses prompted many local libraries to drop their fines even before the official resolution.

Between the lines: New Orleans libraries have been fine-free since 2020 in what was intended as a temporary move to help borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Library Board voted last week to make the change permanent.

Yes, but: The library will still charge fines for interlibrary loans at $1 per day.

Zoom out: The Jefferson Parish Library is still charging fines.

Go deeper: Free things you can do with a library card

3. Fully Dressed: Ray Nagin is "free at last"

Ray Nagin is the city's former mayor who was sentenced to 10 years after being convicted of several corruption charges. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Ray Nagin is "free at last," he says on X. The city's former mayor was in jail and then probation after being convicted in 2014 on federal corruption charges. (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 🔒)

🤒 Nicki Minaj canceled her performance last night at the Smoothie King Center just hours before showtime. The star was sick, and a rescheduled date is expected but not yet announced. (Fox 8)

🚌 A 28-year-old bus driver for Lafayette Academy is being heralded as a hero after getting nine children off her bus before it exploded. (The Guardian)

🏈 The Saints signed defensive end Chase Young, who last put up career highs for the Super Bowl-contending San Francisco 49ers. (Yahoo Sports)

A New Orleans police officer was arrested amid accusations he forced a 17-year-old driver to strip after a car wreck. (WWL)

4. 🌡️ Spring is heating up

Change in average spring temperature from 1970 to 2023
Data: Climate Central; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Spring in New Orleans is getting hotter, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report from a recent Climate Central analysis — a trend that reflects human-caused warming, the group says.

Why it matters: Much of the seasonal climate change discussion is focused on summer and winter, when temperatures are typically at their annual high and low extremes. But the "between seasons" are affected too.

By the numbers: Springtime in New Orleans warmed by 4.1°F on average between 1970 and 2023, per Climate Central.

  • That's compared to warming of 2.2°F on average across nearly 230 U.S. cities.

Zoom out: Today is the first day of astronomical spring, but allergy season started early this year.

Full story

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5. 🌹 Will she find love?

Kelsey Anderson took Joey Graziadei home to New Orleans to meet her dad. Now, she'll meet his parents. Photo: John Fleenor/Disney

Kelsey Anderson of New Orleans is heading to the finale of "The Bachelor."

Why it matters: Our local sweetheart is in the final two this season, and we're hoping she finds true love.

The big picture: Kelsey got a rose in last night's episode. Next week, she'll meet Joey's family.

  • Then, he'll give his final rose. Will it be Kelsey? We'll know soon enough.

Full story with spoiler alert

🎙️ Chelsea is heading to WWNO's "Sea Change" podcast recording tonight.

💰 Carlie put a lucky fava bean from Dorignac's in her purse and is hoping for a prosperous 2024.

Tell a member of the Bachelor Nation to subscribe.

Thanks to our editor Fadel Allassan and copy editor Carlin Becker.