Crowley site of JFK speech to receive marker
(EDITOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, May 31, 2008, beginning at 12 noon an historical marker will be unveiled at the site where then Presidential-candidate Sen. John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to a Rice Festival crowd that exceeded 135,000 people. That speech was delivered on October 16, 1959 from the main platform of the festival, located on the southern lawn of the Acadia Parish Courthouse. It was the 23rd International Rice Festival. Efforts to secure the marker were initiated by Crowley native John Gott who will also be one of the dignitaries in attendance for the unveiling.)
CROWLEY – A massive crowd assembled on the streets of Crowley for the 23rd International Rice Festival in anticipation of hearing Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline speak during his campaign for the U.S. Presidency.
Historians claim it was the largest crowd ever assembled in Acadia Parish with Louisiana State Police stating that over 135,000 people were present.
Kennedy went on to win the United States Presidency 10 months after his historic visit to Crowley and the Rice Festival crowd was the largest he addressed before winning the White House.
The crowd that day extended several blocks south of the festival’s main platform on Parkerson Avenue then on all the intersecting streets up to the railroad crossing on Front Street. The address was carried to the huge crowd by connecting loud speakers that carried the address throughout town.
Sen. Kennedy and his wife were in town as guests of Judge and Mrs. Edmund Reggie where he was to crown Judith Ann Haydel of Houma as the 23rd International Rice Festival Queen.