Ever hear of the fire of 1910 that destroyed much of downtown Lake Charles, La.? Ever heard an animatronic baby tell you what it’s like to live in a king cake? Shared your bucket list on a city wall?
Those are some of my highlights of time in Lake Charles this summer. Once you go over the bridge featuring crossed dueling pistols, you can get into bunches of fun that doesn’t even involve slot machines.
I learned about the Great Fire of Lake Charles at the Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center and retold fascinating details to several people who, like me, had never heard of this dramatic change of landscape. Perhaps it started in an alley behind the opera house. Wonder what 1910 opera house clientele would have thought of the casinos that bring so many visitors to their city now. The hall also featured Southern Mythology, works by Mark Messersmith that combine large and colorful swampy-type birds of our coast with canvases topped by intricate cut outs and bottomed by inset boxes of individual scenes. Photos were forbidden, so go see for yourself through Aug. 23.
No one minded as I snapped pictures of the classic white steps in the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse. It’s getting a remodel inside. The only person who noticed me admiring the massive white columns was a woman making her exercise rounds. What a historic place to work out.
Shops and restaurants in the downtown area have chic, artsy fare. I noticed I was walking on colored chalk pieces and looked at a massive brick building with a giant chalk board inviting people to scribble what they’d like to do before they die. One said to eat boudin. That’s a great goal, though I would have spelled it boudain.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has always been closed when I’d tried to see it before. I pulled on the door the other day and it came open. There was rosary and confessions going on, but no one stopped this quiet tourist from subtly snapping photos of the magnificent stained glass. They know they have something to admire.
Sequined costumes with themes from Darth Vader and Ben Hur to carnival snacks and Lindburgh’s flight await visitors to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. My mouth was hanging open throughout most of the visit, as each room yielded more sparkle. I noticed a door frame was made to look like you are walking through a king cake. On the other side this big baby display began speaking to me about the tradition. That’s just one of the Lake Charles experiences I won’t forget.
I will also report that L’Auberge du Lac is as appealing as ever and The Golden Nugget looks ready to go, set to open by the end of the year.
Here’s my report on lovin’ Lake Charles.
To plan your fun time, go to VisitLakeCharles.org.