Rediscovering Gretna, Louisiana

Welcome to Gretna, Louisiana – the charming town that’s often overlooked by tourists when visiting New Orleans, but true locals to the state of Louisiana know that this city has so much to offer those who choose to give it a chance. Thanks to this detailed guide from Travel + Leisure, you’ll be able to experience this hidden gem at its absolute best. Gretna offers a unique blend of cultural history, culinary delights, and laid-back vibes that are moving at a different pace than the streets of nearby New Orleans. From picturesque streets lined with colorful homes to delicious seafood restaurants serving up Cajun specialties, this small town packs a big punch.

First of all, Gretna is one of the state of Louisiana’s largest national historic register districts, and this is because the city is filled with culture, history, and intrigue. The architecture and landmarks found in downtown Gretna’s historic district tell quite the story. Gretna is a small city located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. It is an outer suburb of New Orleans, and it is the parish seat of Jefferson Parish. Gretna is known for its laid-back atmosphere, and it is a popular destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Big Easy. There are plenty of things to do in Gretna, and visitors will find that there is something for everyone in this charming city.

One such location is the David Crockett Firehouse, which is both the home of the Louisiana State Fire Museum and the nation’s single oldest continuously operating volunteer fire department. The Firehouse dates back to 1859 and even displays its 1876 steam fire pumper, “pride and joy,” that’s still kept in pristine condition.

Another historically rich spot is the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, which is a snapshot back in time in and of itself. This classic blacksmith shop is based on a historic Scottish shop with the same name, and it has since become a prime spot for locals to get hitched, matrimonially speaking.

If you’re looking to get a glimpse of railroad memorabilia, then you should check out “the red caboose,” also known as the home of the Southern Pacific Freight Depot and the Illinois Central Caboose Museum.  Additionally, you can stop by the German-American Cultural Center to learn about the state’s history of German immigrant contributions. As the above list of one-of-a-kind historic spots shows, Gretna is abound with niche and culturally-rich destinations that would otherwise go overlooked if you only sought out nearby New Orleans.

Gretna is home to some of the best food in Louisiana. From Cajun and Creole cuisine to fresh seafood, there’s something for everyone in Gretna. Gretna’s restaurants offer a taste of Louisiana’s unique culture and history. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, you’ll find it in Gretna at the following spots: The Red Maple, Gattuso’s, and Rivershack.

So when is the best time to visit Gretna? Spring and fall are generally considered the best times to visit New Orleans as the weather is pleasant and there are fewer crowds than in summer. However, Gretna is a great year-round destination – even in winter, you can enjoy mild temperatures and festive holiday celebrations.

Gretna, Louisiana is a great place to visit for those looking for a laid-back and quiet experience outside of the hustle and bustle of New Orleans. From its charming small town atmosphere to its diverse cultural attractions, there truly is something for everyone in Gretna! No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find plenty of activities that will keep you entertained during your stay. So if you’re looking for an alternative New Orleans vacation spot, be sure to add Gretna to your list!

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Ground Broken for New Pump Station in Donaldsonville

It was recently announced that officials in Louisiana have broken ground for a $96 million pump station in Donaldsonville that will help to revive the local barrier islands and marshes that protect a large region of south Louisiana from Hurricanes and sea level rise. According to this article from The Advocate, the construction of the long-delayed pumping station, which is considered to be the key to many Bayou Lafourche and coastal restoration projects, had officially broken ground in Donaldsonville on Friday, October 21st.

The project actually caps a larger $220 million effort to reconnect the Mississippi River to the 106-mile-long Bayou Lafourche, which flows from Donaldsonville and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Port Fourchon.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, members of the congress, and other elected officials were in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony. All parties came together in order to honor the start of construction of the $96 million pump station, which will protect the drinking water supply for four parishes (Ascension, Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne) and combat saltwater intrusion in Lafourche and Terrebonne estuaries. These estuaries experience some of the highest land loss rates in the world.

Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke about the long-delayed pump station by saying, “this is tremendous for the entire state. The lack of freshwater flowing into the bayou has endangered wetlands and drinking water supplies for 300,000 people. And it robbed this region of one of its most scenic waterways for too long.”

For more than a century, Bayou Lafourche had been sealed off from the Mississippi River, its main source of freshwater, and this action has led to a series of environmental problems, such as the loss of wetlands south of Houma and New Orleans.

Officials in south Louisiana have announced that the new station will be constructed atop the river levee in downtown Donaldsonville, alongside a nearly-70-year-old pump. The station is set to provide the area with increased water capacity. The pump will triple the flow of the river into Bayou Lafourche and revive marshes and barrier islands that help protect South Louisiana from hurricanes, while also ensuring that a region of South Louisiana has a safe drinking water supply.

Edwards highlighted the necessity of this project by saying, “the importance of this project to the Bayou Region and to our state can’t be overstated. The pump station will protect nearly 10 percent of Louisiana’s drinking water supplywhile nourishing over 85,000 acres of marsh in some of the country’s most land-starved areas. We’re investing more than ever before into protection and restoration projects across our coast, and it’s clear these efforts will continue to benefit Louisiana for decades to come.”

Since Hurricane Gustav in 2008 churned up a massive amount of muck and debris that blocked and contaminated the mouth of the bayou, state officials have been hard at work to restore Bayou Lafourche and build up the pump station. When Hurricane Gustav hit, there were weeks-long boil-water advisories in effect for approximately 300,000 residents. U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge spoke at the ceremony about the conditions following the 2008 hurricane saying, “after Gustav, that water was stagnant and disgusting. You could smell the bayou for miles.”

According to The Advocate, the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District has spent the past 11 years preparing the bayou for the pump station’s increased flows by widening and deepening several miles of it, raising a railroad crossing in Donaldsonville, installing water control gates, and removing a small dam in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

The bayou projects have already attracted more residents to the neighborhood. Recently, there have been a number of recreational projects in the area that include public docks, boat launches, and bayou-side trails. The new pump station is projected to start operating in 2025, and it should be up and running by the end of 2025.

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New Krewe Parades through Golden Meadow for Mardi Gras

After a harrowing year along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, one community banded together to raise the spirits of Golden Meadow, Louisiana, and they are accomplishing this by forming an impromptu Mardi Gras Krewe, according to HoumaToday.

The Krewe des Couyons, which is made up of residents from Golden Meadow, aimed to make up for both the 30 canceled Mardi Gras parades in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and those canceled thanks to damage sustained by Hurricane Ida.

They set out to “make things right” with a call to arms so to speak. Krewe leader Kyle Williams organized a convoy of roughly a couple dozen homemade parade floats with about 150 operating them and participating in the festivities. To say that The Krewe des Couyons floats are clearly crafted by a community that had gone a year without Mardi Gras would be an understatement.

As per the Golden Meadow Krewe des Couyons Facebook page, which invited the public to join in the festivities this year, the “newly-founded” Mardi Gras club set out early on with self-awareness. They posted that their krewe will be riding in “homemade floats, golf carts, side-by-sides, and just about anything else you can imagine.” That succinct, yet poignant description emits the exact type of positive spirit needed in South Louisiana after the past few years.

After Hurricane Ida, the Category 4 storm that swept across the Gulf Coast but first came ashore at Port Fourchon on August 29, 2021, many traditional Mardi Gras Krewes found that their floats were damaged or destroyed along with countless homes and businesses. Not only did this cause mountains of dismay for the residents and their families, but citizens of Lafourche Parish knew that they wouldn’t be able to relieve some stress with a traditional Mardi Gras celebration some six months following the storm. That’s just when Krewe Organizer Kyle Williams went to work.

Williams said, “with COVID last year and now Ida this year, canceling again is not an option. Our community needs a pick-me-up to get their minds off of Ida damage. We need to take steps toward getting back to normal. We’re making our own floats. We’re riding in the backs of trucks, and we’re just making do with what we got.”

On Fat Tuesday, the day of Mardi Gras, The Krewe des Couyons floats will make their way down La. 1 at noon in float types ranging from golf carts to tractors. They will pass through Golden Meadow on a route that would traditionally be traveled by the Krewes of Neptune and Nereid in a normal year.

This year, however, several parades were canceled across Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes due to sustained damages from Hurricane Ida. Parades that would traditionally run in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes but had to cancel were Athena, Des Petite Lions, Nereids, and Neptune in Golden Meadow; Des T. Cajuns and  Bon Temps in Larose; and Tee Caillou in Chauvin.

A Spokeswoman for La Krewe du Bon Temps in Larose, Corine Berthelot, remarked on both the sadness at having to cancel parade-going this Festival season and the hope for parades to return in 2023. She told HoumaToday, “this year, there’s so much devastation here that there’s no way that anybody’s going to be able to ride. We’re just going to pray and keep our fingers crossed that the following year we can ride.”

What came as a result of the new Golden Meadow Krewe’s immaculate planning and a bruised community banding together will be a parade maybe not quite as grand and large-scale as it has been in previous years, but one that will perhaps be more meaningful and symbolic than those that came before it.

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