Gott instrumental in securing JFK marker
(EDITOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, May 31, 2008 beginning at 12 noon a 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 – John Gott remembers at the tender age of five sitting on his father’s shoulders in front of Raymond Hunter Appliances trying to catch a glimpse of a charismatic statesman addressing a massive crowd at the 1959 Rice Festival.
In his own words Gott explains, “I remember may father telling me. ‘Son, you are looking at the next President of the United States.”
Gott said his father then chuckled when he said, “Gee Dad, he looks nothing like Eisenhower!”
Since that time Gott said he has passed the court circle on humorous times and is always reminded of how fortunate Crowley was to have had one of the greatest persons of this century speak to not only the people of Acadia Parish but also, all of Louisiana.
“As a young boy I always anticipated that the “powers within” (something I felt helpless to challenge) would someday erect a marker commemorating that day back in ’59. I always thought the historic marker was beyond my reach. However, with the passing of time and still no marker, I felt it was now time to take the bull by the horns and proceed forward.
Gott said in November of 2007 he was able to get the grassroots of the process planted. “I first contacted the Judge Reggie family. I felt Judge Reggie should be aware of the endeavor since he was instrumental in getting JFK to Crowley in the first place. During Thanksgiving week I told the Judge and his wife Doris of may plans and I will never forget his enthusiastic response over the phone with, “Let her rip!”
Gott said he then contacted the Louisiana Office of Culture and Tourism where he received and filled out three pages of documentation for securing the marker.
“At the very beginning of this endeavor I never dreamed it would mushroom into such an event,” Gott said. “The thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Now Gott will see the fruits of his efforts unveiled in noon ceremonies Saturday on the south lawn of the Acadia Parish Courthouse.