State Parks kicks off 75th anniversary here

ST. MARTINVILLE – With a heartfelt welcome by Mayor Thomas Nelson and remarks by Stuart Johnson, assistant secretary of Louisiana State Parks, the State Parks system kicked off its 75th anniversary celebration here Saturday.

TV chef Cajun Karl Breaux served historically correct jambalaya and blackeyed peas and gunsmoke from costumed re-enactors provided a quaint verisimilitude.

Louisiana’s State Parks system began in 1934 when the then State Parks Commission assumed the operation of three historic sites: Camp Moore, a Confederate training camp in Tangipahoa Parish, Fort Pike at the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain, and in St. Martinville, the site of an early 19th century plantation, named Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in honor of the area’s connection to the epic poem about the Cajun diaspora.

“We are proud to mark this great milestone in Louisiana State Parks history,” said Johnson. “The accomplishments made over the past few years, from brand-new parks to extensive renovations of existing sites, highlight the progress that 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.”

Stuart noted that while the economy is not looking too good, it’s a good deal better than it was when the park system was created in the midst of the Great Depression.

Mayor Nelson expressed his gratitude to Johnson and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, whose office oversees the Office of State Parks, for their interest in creating an RV park in association with Longfellow-Evangeline to provide much-needed lodging for tourists in St. Martinville.

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