This Community Rocks!

In a word: Bravo!

Friends and neighbors, I have never been more proud of this community. Ever.

Last weekend’s second annual Tour du Teche paddle race was not only a fabulous success in its own right, but we in St. Mary Parish showed exactly what we are capable of when we put our minds and hearts and work into it.

The race began in Port Barre Friday morning and paused in St. Martinville that night. Saturday morning they got up and took off for Franklin, facing a more than 15-mph wind and rafts of water lilies that defy description.

In Franklin, we were ready.

We had volunteers to spare. We had music and dancing. Great food, great hospitality and terrific support.

This is what I’ve longed for all these years.

Make no mistake: Franklin flat out blew them away.

Listen to what Nicole Patin, executive director of TdT said in our feature in the Banner-Tribune today:

“Franklin set a high bar as far as throwing a party and helping the race to run smoothly.”

And co-organizer Ken Grissom said, “Franklin’s finish line will serve us as a model. Everything was in walking distance, the music was available but not intrusive, and of course the waterfront made a wonderful grandstand for spectators. We heard nothing but great things about it from the paddlers.”

Not over yet. co-organizer Ray Pellerin said, “From the parish president, sheriff’s department, mayor, chief of police, fire department, the volunteers and Boy Scouts all working together to make TdT run smoothly was just awesome to see…What a party you put on.”

David Dupree, a paddler in the race, said on Facebook, “Please thank the folks there for me, especially the guys that cleared the lilies! Coming in at night with the crowd cheering and the band in the background was pretty awesome!”

As I said, I have never been more proud.

I don’t want this to sound like an Academy Awards recipient speech, but hell, that’s what it feels like, so here’s some thanks and attaboys.

Everyone in the City of Franklin’s various departments went above and beyond any call of duty last weekend. Development Director Arlana Shields held the reins to the TdT organization with only a month or so of time after she took the position and excelled mightily. It was all ready to go when we got there Saturday morning.

Public works, the fire department, everyone in the city that was involved in the Franklin preparations just absolutely excelled!

But I must give loud applause to Police Chief Sabria McGuire and her officers. Not content to just work security, Franklin Police spent hours running outboard boats through the massive rafts of lilies in an attempt to keep a path open for the paddlers as they arrived. I mean, hour upon hour of fighting what was surely a losing battle, but it didn’t deter them at all.

At the boat ramp, officers were helping weary paddlers disboard, move their boats and just about anything we asked for. Mega-salute to FPD.

Jimmy Broussard, sheriff’s department, deserves a big attaboy. Jim used his skills to create floating finish line buoys with lights used the entire length of the race, and we here in this area were the only entries to have a carpeted ramp that kept the smooth, slick bows of these vessels protected. He organized and readied major portions of what would become a successful race.

I just can’t name everyone in this space. But certainly thanks to the St. Mary Parish School system and Dr. Donald Aguillard for allowing use of the field house at Franklin High School for paddlers wishing to shower, and Edgar Dugas III for the same at the truck stop. As it happens, only two or three paddlers asked for shower facilities, so those facilities were underutilized, but the most important thing is that we were ready to meet their needs at every turn.

Our volunteers. I can’t say enough about our volunteers. They spent the first four hours of the event killing time because the wind and lilies meant a long, long delay before the arrival of the first racers. When things got rolling, though, they were there, they were working, and they helped make this a premiere event for our community.

Thanks to Chitimacha for sending out their display on our culture and history, and Cypress Bayou Casino for the bottled water and ice. Thanks to the St. Mary Parish Bear Conflict office for bringing theirs as well.

Thanks to Dr. Bill Karam for getting us a spotlight in a pinch!

Gosh, there’s so many. Everyone bragged about the great supper from Main Street Café and breakfast from Joe’s on the Bayou.

Thanks to all the folks up and down the bayou who were cheering on the paddlers as they came through. Make no mistake, they noticed it, they appreciated it, and they won’t forget it.

The bands were great, and Robin Boudreaux was too, as usual. Lion’s Club came out to serve some adult beverages and we thank them all profusely.

Many public officials came out, including Mayor Raymond Harris, Parish President Paul Naquin and Chitimacha Vice Chairman Jules Darden, that I noticed. If there were more, you have our appreciation as well!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone, so please forgive me. You are not unappreciated.

We rocked this weekend. We were the stars of Bayou Teche in this race, and we should all be very, very, very proud.

1 comment to This Community Rocks!

  • blufloyd

    Sweet. Getting ready for my Louisiana trip but unfortunately that means diabetes doc visits. I’ll be touring a bit when I get there looking for retirement home. So I’ll be available for these paddle events like yours and Lafourche.

    Stay on course.

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