Sunrise Interview: Louisiana’s ‘Celebration Riverboat’ opportunity to promote tourism
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Louisiana Tourism will come out smelling like roses in Pasadena next week. For the second year in a row, the state will have a float in the prestigious Tournament of Roses Parade.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser joined us live this morning with the details along with Miss Boudin Queen Emily Leleux and the Assistant VP of Communications for the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission (CVB) Kaylie LeBlanc.
This will be the second time in just over a month that Louisiana tourism has been featured in the national spotlight with the state’s “Celebration Gator” float prowling the streets of New York during November’s 96th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What do events like this mean for Louisiana?
Lt. Gov. Nungesser: “Well, it’s incredible to be able to promote Louisiana all over the world and really put us on the front line here.
And I’m here with the CVB from Lafayette and the Boudin Queen. Well, the Boudin Queen will be riding with 19 other festival queens from all over Louisiana. And they’re a big supporter and partner in this as we partnered with CVB’s all over Louisiana.”
Talk about highlighting our culture! I understand the float is a real-life-sized replica of a paddlewheel riverboat. What was behind that decision?
Lt. Gov. Nungesser: “Well, the mighty Mississippi River is so important to our economy. And now with the river cruises upriver, visitors will get a chance to get off at many different ports in Louisiana and see all of our state. So, we wanted to highlight the Mississippi River and all of the great festival queens as I stand here with Mrs. Boudin. She is going to be a great representative for us on the float. And she gets to talk about all the great things Lafayette has to offer.
And what better way to kick off Mardi Gras than with a parade here in La.?”
Absolutely, and I’m sure it takes a lot of work to make a Louisiana riverboat float out of roses. What went into turning that idea into reality?
Lt. Gov. Nungesser: “Well, last year we had our first responder, teacher of the year, and police officer of the year. And how do we outdo that, highlighting all those great Louisianans? What better way than these fair and festival queens who have to compete to get that crown? They have to know about their festival, about their parish, about their town, about their culture.
So, what better ambassadors?
And I’m gonna let her say a couple of things about her ride.”
Miss Boudin Queen Emily Leleux: “Oh absolutely. And it’s a complete honor to be able to have been selected to showcase not only my festival and my town but also Louisiana on a national and even worldwide platform.”
That’s wonderful. And this year’s parade theme is “Turning the Corner,” and that is certainly everyone’s theme coming out of COVID. But how is Louisiana turning its corner from the pandemic?
Lt. Gov. Nungesser: “I think every area of Louisiana has different challenges. And surely the Lafayette area, which is with me here this morning, has their challenges getting people to come to places other than New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
And what better way than to have these great ambassadors here, talking about their town and culture? As well as what’s special about their area and why you should visit. It gives us the opportunity to promote all of Louisiana.”
And you brought up Mardi Gras, so of course, we have to talk about that. It’s the biggest event of the year for Louisiana. Carnival season starts next week, so how is the state gearing up for Mardi Gras?
Kaylie LeBLanc: “Yeah so, Lafayette has always been known as a family-friendly Mardi Gras. And so we’re just excited to have a full season this year. Currently, we’re in gumbo season. But we’re gonna be rolling right around into King Cake season to kick off that celebration.
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