Regional Reports from across the state complied and edited by Jeanne Frois
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Alexandria Native Reigns Over New Orleans Mardi Gras
This past Mardi Gras, R. Hunter Pierson Jr., a native of Alexandria, ruled New Orleans for a day. When Mayor Ray Nagin relinquished his power to Rex, King of Carnival, on Fat Tuesday, merriment was the order of the day.
According to John Pope in the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, Pierson, who is neighbor to Saints quarterback Drew Brees, watched adoring Saints fans leave Hubig’s pies and bottles of Abita beer on the porch of the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player for days after the Super Bowl triumph. (Anyone who witnessed the Saints parade the Tuesday before Mardi Gras, thereby christened “Dat Tuesday,” couldn’t argue that Brees reigned as noble king of the Big Easy.) But Fat Tuesday rolled around a week later, allowing Pierson to reign as monarch of a city whose populace was overjoyed by the Saints victory in Super Bowl XLIV. That had to make it doubly special for the Cenla native son.
Pierson, an LSU graduate who manages private investments in timberland, securities and real estate, has also been newly appointed to the Tulane University board. Civic-minded, he likewise serves on several boards: the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, the Historic New Orleans Collection, Teach for America and the Louisiana Museum Foundation.
Pierson married his wife, Cathy, also an Alexandria native, in 1973, and shortly thereafter the couple moved to the Big Easy. They didn’t expect to stay. Pierson worked at the First National Bank of Commerce. “I always thought I’d learn a trade and go back to Alexandria,” he said.
While driving country roads on their way to a family visit in Alexandria, the Piersons experienced an epiphany of sorts, New Orleans-style.
“As we drove through the road, there was a tractor on the side of the road,” Cathy recalled. “It was right after Mardi Gras. Our son looked at me and said, ‘Where’s the float?’”
Added Hunter, “That’s when I knew we were New Orleanians.”
It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have a wonderful commodity to boast about in the first place, but add an excellent staff and strong partnerships with the likes of Louisiana Culinary Trails and El Camino Real de Los Tejas to the mix and there’s little wonder why the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau was named Outstanding CVB of the Year for budgets in the $250,000 to $750,000 range. Executive Director Iris Harper gives her staff and partnerships all the credit for the recognition. The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association, or LTPA, bestowed the award on the Natchitoches CVB during its annual meeting last January in Monroe. A release from LTPA stated that this particular convention bureau received the award due to “the production of exceptional tourism materials, effective partnerships and public relations campaigns.” Due to savvy marketing and partnerships with the Holiday Trail of Lights, Louisiana North Coalition and the aforementioned Louisiana Culinary Trails and El Camino Real de Los Tejas, more than $1.7 million of press mentions were garnered during 2009.
That's Just Ducky
The Vernon Parish Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, or DU, recently received news good enough to warm the “quackles” of their hearts. Of the 3,500 chapters of DU throughout the nation, the Vernon Parish chapter was named to the President’s Top 100 list. Clearly, the members of this local chapter, headed by Jeff Skidmore, are no quacks when it comes to duck habitation preservation. Being named to this elite list reflects their fine work when it comes to raising grass roots funding to keep the preservation of duck habitations flying. Highly committed to its cause, DU is the world’s largest nonprofit organization involved in the conservation of threatened North American waterfowl habitats since 1937. President John Pope, who offered his congratulations to Skidmore, said, “DU chapters throughout the country are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and wetlands that filter our drinking water are important to them and their communities.”
Stating how proud he was of his chapter committee members, Skidmore also cited community support.
“I want to give a huge thanks to Alford Motors … and to the folks of Vernon Parish who support us and our conservation efforts for Ducks Unlimited. Without each of them, we would not have achieved this honor.”