Louisiana State Parks to celebrate 75th anniversary; year-long celebration to highlight culture, resources

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana State Parks system will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2009, commemorating its journey from a three-site commission in 1934 to 37 parks located all across the state. The year-long celebration, “75 years of Celebrating Louisiana’s Treasures,” will begin January 17, with a 10 a.m. kick-off ceremony at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site.

“For 75 years, Louisiana’s state parks have protected and celebrated the state’s cultural, historical and natural resources,” said Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, whose office oversees the Office of state parks. “Millions of visitors have experienced our unique heritage, thanks to our parks and historic sites. From learning about marshland ecosystems to experiencing Civil War battles to camping under the stars, Louisiana’s state parks are the best in the nation. In 2009, come see everything we have to offer.”

The official kick-off of the 75th Anniversary celebrations will begin with a ceremony recognizing the role of the Office of state parks in the preservation of Louisiana’s natural, historical and cultural resources. As one of the oldest sites in the state parks system, Longfellow-Evangeline SHS will provide a uniquely-Louisiana experience with staff in period clothing and demonstrating the daily life of the Acadians and Creoles that settled in the Bayou Teche area.

“We are proud to mark this great milestone in Louisiana State Parks history,” said Dr. Stuart Johnson, Assistant Secretary for the Office of State Parks. “The accomplishments made over the past few years – from brand-new parks to extensive renovations of existing sites – highlight the progress the Office of State Parks has made over the past 75 years. And, we’re looking ahead to continue offering a quality experience for our visitors.”

Events during the year will include recognition of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the development of some of the earliest Louisiana State Parks; commemoration of Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site’s 100th Anniversary in April; a statewide free “Day in the Park” June 6, during which visitors can also enjoy the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ “Free Fishing Weekend,” and many other activities and events celebrating the history of Louisiana State Parks. Plans are underway to round out the festivities with the opening of three brand-new parks in late 2009 and early 2010: Bogue Chitto State Park near Franklinton, Palmetto Island State Park near Abbeville and Fort Randolph State Historic Site in Pineville.

The schedule of special 75th Anniversary events is as follows:

•Saturday, January 17, - 75th Anniversary Kickoff at Longfellow-Evangeline SHS

•Saturday, March 7, - CCC Commemoration at Lake Bistineau State Park

•Saturday, March 14, - CCC Commemoration at Chicot State Park

•Saturday, March 21, - CCC Commemoration at Fontainebleau State Park

•Saturday, March 28, - CCC Commemoration at Chemin-A-Haut State Park

•Saturday, April 4, - 100th Anniversary Celebration at Plaquemine Lock SHS

•Friday May 15, - 10th Anniversary Celebration at Tickfaw State Park

•Saturday, June 6, - Statewide “Day in the Park”

•Saturday, June 20, - 50th Anniversary Celebration at Hodges Gardens State Park

•Monday, September 28, - Commemoration of the State Parks Commission, at Fort Pike SHS

•Friday, October 2, - New Deal Archaeology at Marksville SHS

Traveling the state, stopping at welcome centers, local libraries and chambers of commerce, will be an exhibit highlighting the history and providing a look at the future development of Louisiana State Parks. Also throughout the year, visitors will be encouraged to explore Louisiana’s State Parks’ 165 miles of nature trails.

Visitors will enjoy free entrance to many Louisiana State Parks sites during these special events. Commemorative items, celebrating the state parks’ 75th anniversary, can be purchased online; all proceeds will benefit future improvements at State Parks sites.

The Louisiana State Parks system was created in 1934 when the legislature formed the State Parks Commission of Louisiana. This commission was charged with the “establishment, protection, and management of state parks and recreational centers.” The state parks system began with only three state parks; but today, operates 20 recreational sites, 16 state historic sites and a preservation area.

For more information about the 75th Anniversary and Louisiana State Parks visit www.lastateparks.com or call 1-888-677-1400.

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