Living History in South Louisiana

Credit: Chad Moreno

Fall means living history in South Louisiana.

In Lake Charles, local actors will dress in period costumes and portray city notables from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, for the annual Living History Cemetery Tour at four city cemeteries: Sallier Cemetery on Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive, Catholic Cemetery on Common Street, Combre Memorial Park on Opelousas Street and Bilbo Cemetery on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

Some of the city’s past citizens being represented include civil rights activist Doretha Combre, who served on the national board for the NAACP and helped desegregate Lake Charles; pioneer Lastie Reon, who was rumored to have found Jean Lafitte’s treasure; early settler Catherine Lebleu Sallier; Judge Alfred M. Barbe; French aristocrat Michel Pithon and Charles Michael McCormick, the first editor of what would become the American Press.

This year’s tour also includes an actress portraying jazz singer Nellie Lutcher visiting Combre Memorial Park, where Lutcher’s parents are buried. Lutcher began her career singing at the New Sunlight Baptist Church in Lake Charles and her legacy remains in the city’s Nellie Lutcher Cultural District.

Last year, more than 600 people took the tour so nab those tickets quickly. Tickets costs $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and older and free for children 12 and under who must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Tickets will be available the day of the event or purchased at or at the Arts Council of Southwest Louisiana office at Central School in Lake Charles.

Guests will have the freedom to drive from cemetery to cemetery at their own pace.

For more information and to receive updated information should the weather turn nasty, email or call the Arts Council at (337) 439-2787.

Over in St. Martinville, folks continue a century-old tradition.

About 100 years ago, a young boy from St. Martinville visited New Orleans with his parents and witnessed streetcars lit up at night. When he returned to Acadiana, he created his own lighted streetcar from a shoe box and candles and paraded it out as a “chariot” (pronounced sha ree o) among the neighborhood.

In the 1960s, an organized version of the parade began, with children creating different chariots in the Chariot Parade or Children’s Illuminated Cardboard Parade.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, a Chariot Parade sponsored by the Creole Farmers Market will roll beginning at 7 p.m. in front of the town’s St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church. Young people are encouraged to create their own chariots and enter the parade. Prizes will be awarded for the best entries in four categories — plain box, fancy box, kid-made and float.  First-, second- and third-place trophies will be awarded, as well as best overall award. All participants will receive a ribbon.

Registration for the chariot entries is free and begins at 6:30 p.m.

For those who wish to watch, lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged. For more information on the parade, contact Nanette at (337) 652-3819.


Categories: Lets Go, Louisiana