NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For many, Mother's Day includes a trip Uptown to the Audubon Zoo to watch a New Orleans legend perform.
"My family understands that when I come here it's all family," said Irma Thomas.
For the past 35 Mother's Days, Thomas has serenaded Moms at the zoo. One local says it has become a traditional gift to his wife.
"Every year this is what I do," said Will Jones. "She listens to Irma Thomas and I sit out here and sweat. This is my mother's day gift to her every year."
Thomas says to have the chance to play for many every year on Mother's Day, she wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's very emotional for me because I have fans out there since I've been in the business...three generations," said Thomas.
After such dedication, the Audubon Zoo thought the mother and grandmother deserved a special gift.
"I will definitely make use of that lifetime membership between the great grandkids and some of the younger grandkids," said Thomas. "It will get used because there are lots of areas in this zoo I have not seen, ironically. I'm just as much of a kid as the kids that are out here."
What started all those years ago as a way to get families to visit the zoo has morphed into so much more.
"It's being with family and it means a lot to me. It's a part of who I am now, and since they renewed my contract for two more years I better be around to do it all again but it's all what God has for me and I think he gave me this gift and I hope I'm using it in a way that he gave me to use to bring families together to share life and share moments. It has become a tradition for me as well," said Thomas.
One the soul singer plans to continue as long as she can.