Now in its second year, the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade benefits Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, and the Big Buddy Program—whose children receive costumes collected during the 10/31 Consortium club's costume drive. These costumed children march in the parade each year, in keeping with the organization's efforts to preserve the practice of trick-or-treating.
The parade follows a surprise theme each year, and community individuals and Krewes, who drive and march along a downtown route, contribute and construct colorful floats. The 10/31 Consortium organizes this annual parade in an effort to nurture community creativity and inspire local youth.
Spanish moss drops from the branches of Afton Villa Gardens’s 250 live oaks, brushing the shoulders of Apollo, Diana, and other faded statues of Greek gods. The vitality of the greenery stands in stark contrast to the remnants of past grandeur dotting the landscape. A Gothic Revival mansion stood in the center of Afton Villa Gardens 130 years ago, but crumbled in a 1963 fire. But signs of the estate remain: classical statues carved from Italian stone dot the 250 acres of fertile land, and the mansion’s brick foundation now supports English wallflowers, wild ferns, and exotic Post-it notes.
As the newest residents and caretakers, the Trimble family pays homage to the past not only by preserving the ruins, but by nurturing plants typical to 19th-century southern gardens and West Feliciana parish. Camellias and sweet olive border a formal boxwood parterre, and honeysuckle and silverbell compete for the affections of bumblebees beneath cherry trees. Visitors are welcome to tote along food and beverages to savor a picnic lunch on the idyllic grounds.
Today, Bocage Plantation's eight white columns and grand staircase gleam in the afternoon sun just steps from the Mississippi River. But the 175-year-old Greek Revival mansion hasn’t always looked this dapper. When Louisiana native Dr. Marion Rundell purchased the property in 2008, he supervised a careful restoration before beginning the mansion’s first public tours. The pathologist also decorated its interior with antiques and furniture from his personal collection, including Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, old Paris porcelain vases, and paintings by Thomas Sully and Rembrandt Peale. A bed and breakfast with four rooms allows guests to bask in period atmosphere overnight.
The history of Bocage Plantation dates back to 1837, when wealthy planter Marius Pons Bringier had it built for his daughter and son-in-law. Architect James Dakin—best known for creating Baton Rouge's former state capitol building—designed the mansion, which now graces the National Register of Historic Places. The Bocage Plantations belongs to the prestigious group of Greek Revival and Creole plantations located along River Road, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Kliebert’s Turtle and Alligator Farm hosts handicap-accessible walking tours that educate guests of all ages during interactions with exotic reptiles. Kliebert’s staffers call themselves “the original swamp people,” and accommodate thousands of cold-blooded critters in their watery hotel. During tours, reptile-loving guides introduce their scaly friends such as Big Fred, a 16-foot gator who's excited he recently turned 55, or Yetta, the 16-foot snake who's convinced her new neighbor, the crocodile, is a reincarnated pair of Rick James's shoes. Guests traverse the grounds to observe feedings or pose for photos with baby turtles and alligators. In addition to demonstrating their dedication to reptile preservation, the tour guides show visitors a bird sanctuary for egrets and herons. Once the riveting tour winds down, guests can browse the gift shop, where they’ll find alligator heads, turtle shells, and alligator meat for purchase.
Original slave cabins are just one of the historical sites that groups explore during tours of St. Joseph Plantation, a working sugar-cane plantation built in 1830 that shares a fence line with neighboring Oak Alley Plantation. A schoolhouse, a blacksmith's shop, and many other structures reveal the workings of day-to-day life in the 19th century. Relatives of the family that has owned the property for more than 135 years guide many of the tours, peppering excursions with tidbits of history such as details about the childhood of plantation son and famed architect H.H. Richardson.
Devoted to preserving Cajun culture by sharing it with the public, Cajun Pride Tours’ knowledgeable and passionate guides lead groups on tours that explore area swamps, plantations along the Great Mississippi River Road, and the historic districts of New Orleans. They also stroll along city streets in the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Garden District, and areas that display the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. On boat trips, groups can spot friendly gators while floating through the Manchac Swamp—a protected area that prohibits any hunting, fishing, or tickling of the native wildlife. A short drive past the swamps drops tourists off near the area’s plantations that are notable for their history, architecture, landscaping, and insight into Creole culture.
In partnership with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Insta-Gator Ranch strives to preserve Louisiana wetlands and educate its visitors on regional wildlife. On the ranch, tour guides explain the ins and outs of the Louisiana alligator industry, from hatching gators to using them for food and textiles. During the tour, guests stroll along protected walkways near crystal clear waters to witness the goings-on of more than 2,000 alligators and view the specialized airplane used to scoop up alligator eggs from Louisiana swamps. Adding flair to the experience, a guide leaps into the pen to catch one before giving it a warm embrace and a box of water buffalo-flavored chocolates. Before tour's end, both kids and adults can hold and play with baby gators and have their portrait taken with the scaly youngsters. The hatchery also allows for the adoption of infant gators and houses a retail shop filled with alligator belts, wallets, heads, and more.