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.
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.
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.
The guides at Cajun Tours and Cruises lead small groups on expansive adventures through the history and architecture of New Orleans. Experts meet groups at their hotels, houses, or couch forts at 9 a.m. to venture out on citywide jaunts. Eyes explore prime examples of Southern architecture, including Creole townhouses with asymmetrical arched openings and stucco exteriors, and shotgun houses with covered front porches and lacey Victorian ornamentation. Camera wielders click photos, freezing moments in the French Quarter, Jackson Square, and St. Louis Cathedral before wandering past the site where the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. In City Park, guides dole out refreshments at the Pavilion, recounting how the sculpture garden was donated and how it once came to life on a full moon. After picnics, visitors hop rides on streetcars and cruise down St. Charles Avenue to take in more beautiful New Orleans structures, returning to their home bases at 4 p.m.