For Mardi Gras, New Orleans issues a warning
Throughout the quieter parts of New Orleans’ French Quarter, residents and businesses have posted signs that read “Caution: Walk in Large Groups. We (heart) N.O.P.D. We Just Need More.” It’s an unsettling message about violent crime in the Big Easy for the 1 million revelers about to descend for Carnival season, which this year ends Feb. 17, Fat Tuesday. Since November, a series of more than 60 robberies in and around the Quarter has shocked residents, sparked outrage and prompted the caution signs.
— The Associated Press
Dinner and a show in Southern California
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For fans of classic Broadway musicals, Welk Resorts San Diego has a Bed & Broadway package that includes a one-night stay in a one-bedroom villa, theater tickets and buffet dinner for two before the show. The season at the Welk Theatre, named after the legendary bandleader Lawrence Welk, includes The King and I (through April 5), The 39 Steps, Cabaret, Meet Me in St. Louis and Hello, Dolly. Packages start at $249. To make a reservation or check the theater schedule, call 800-932-9355 or visit http://welkresorts.com/san-diego.
— Sandy Guerra-Cline
A valentine from America’s national parks
It’s free to visit national parks this year on Valentine’s Day. That’s because Feb. 14 happens to fall during Presidents Day weekend, when entrance fees to all national parks will be waived. Feb. 14, 15 and 16 are among nine fee-free days this year. Others in 2015 are April 18-19, Aug. 25, Sept. 26 and Nov. 11. And if you’re wondering how to spend a romantic Valentine’s Day in a national park, the National Park Foundation offers lots of ideas at www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/play-together-stay-together. Of 405 national parks, 133 charge entrance fees.
— Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press
Little passport, big step
Ireland is launching a new plastic passport for travel in Europe — and Irish citizens can provide their own selfies as the ID photo using a smartphone app. The credit card-style passports will make their debut in July and, according to Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan, can be used to travel throughout the 28-nation European Union as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The cards are similar to those used by U.S. residents to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but Ireland’s passports will be good for air travel, too.
— The Associated Press