Olympic gold medalists a big draw at Volleyball Tourney in Kenner

Olympic gold medalists a big draw at Volleyball Tourney in Kenner

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Some Olympic gold medalists showed why they're best in the world at beach volleyball, at Saturday's Association of Volleyball Professionals New Orleans Open. Thousands flocked to the Laketown area of Kenner to watch them play, after a rain out Friday.

Some enjoyed a cocktail, and the sun, while taking in the action. Others, came with a specific goal; to get some pointers.

"I slow mo'd at least 18 videos because I was like, let me study this real quick," Jamie Matthews said.

Organizers estimate 10,000 to 15,000 people showed up Saturday to the courts set up along the lakefront, to check out the AVP's New Orleans Open.

"I came to see Kerri Walsh. I've been following those girls for years," spectator Connie Gaines said.

This is the first stop on an eight city tour for Kerri Walsh Jennings, gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, and the rest of the AVP athletes.

And they're not just showing their skills on the court, they're interacting with locals at Coconut Beach, like Laura Beard's son, Evan. "Yesterday he got to come out and play against some of the guys playing the AVP. They did a little king of the beach. He's had a great time," Beard said.

Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni says he's honored the tour chose to return to the area after a 15 year absence, and he has big dreams for what lies ahead. Yenni explains, "I hope in the future we have a music festival at the culmination on Sunday after it's over with so we can give people even more."

Sort of along the lines of the party after the Zurich Classic, Yenni thinks.

While it's only slated to be here this year and next, AVP managing partner, Donald Sun, says he's got a good feeling about the area. "I'm looking beyond two years so I think based on what I see here, there wouldn't be a reason why we don't come back for many years to come," Sun explained.

It's good news to Kenner residents Kelly and Kevin Nunez. "It's nice to come out to something local," Kevin Nunez said.

And it's welcome news to the many Kenner restaurants, bars and businesses that are benefiting from this huge influx of visitors this holiday weekend.

The New Orleans Open wraps up Sunday. Admission is free.

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