Festival activities are a treat for children
By ROBERT R. JONES III
As the last vestiges of Hurricane Isaac cleared out of the Morgan City area, giving way to a warm, sunny September morning Saturday, children attending the 77th annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival were treated to fun and games topped off by their own parade.
Beginning at 9 a.m. in Lawrence Park in downtown Morgan City, Children’s Activity committee members Allison Guagliardo and Theresa Ward hosted children’s games for about 20 youths.
Children participated in a balloon blow-up contest, where kids race to see who could blow up and tie a balloon first; a balloon-pop race, where kids raced about 20 yards then sat on the balloon to pop it; a sack race and a three-legged race with partners.
Guagliardo, a resident of Morgan City who is also a pre-kindergarten teacher at Stephensville Elementary School, said she leaned on those experiences to pick games she knew the children would enjoy.
“From my experience as a teacher doing field day at school, I knew these were games the kids would really love,” she said. “This year, we did not do the wheelbarrow race or duck race because we have had injuries with those events in the past. Kids prefer the balloons.”
Besides her role as a festival committee member, Guagliardo said she also enjoyed doing the children’s events because her own kids, Ashleigh, Amelie, Brandon and Shannon, enjoyed participating in the festival events.
“I like to become really involved in anything my children participate in,” she said. “My kids love Children’s Day, so it was natural that I became involved.”
After the events were over, Guagliardo planned to reward each first-place finisher with a prize of $10, but because there were not an overly large number of a children at the event, every young child was given the award after about an hour of games.
At 11 a.m., parents became involved with their children and walked or pulled them in the annual Children’s Parade.
About 20 families participated in the parade, which began at the courthouse, made its way around Lawrence Park, the returned to the starting point.
Sitting astride a red Ford Mustang convertible, 2012 Children’s Day royalty Joshua Fribley and Trysten Tallada led the procession, complete with its own Morgan City Police Department escort.
Setting up a wagon with an oilfield theme for the festival, Jody Howard said this was the first event for his son, Carter, 11 months.
As the boy sat in his decorated wagon wearing a yellow hard-hat and happily soaking up the sun, Howard of Morgan City said he spent a good bit of time preparing for the special event.
“It took us about three days to decorate the wagon,” he said of himself and his wife, Lasonja Prince, who was also in attendance. “This is Carter’s first everything, and we wanted it to be special.”
After the parade, Jocelyn Davis, 10, who was dressed as a bottle of Tabasco, said the Children’s Parade has been important to her for as long as she could remember, as it was for her own mom, Bliss Roy.
“I’ve been in the parade my whole life,” she said. “I’m the second generation of my family to be in the parade because my mom was in it too. The carnival rides are my favorite part of the festival, but the parade is really fun too.”
After the 25-minute parade, participants were judged by Guagliardo and Ward.
Winners were given trophies and $10 cash prizes to first-place finishers.
Parade winners are as follows:
Parade Walkers: first place, Jocelyn Davis; second place, Zavier Prince; third place, Emma LeCompt.
Parade Riders (decorated bikes and scooters): first, Kain Glatter; second, Gianna Case; third, Madelyn Fendley.
Most Original: first place, Ashley and Madison Alleman; second, Dianne Ward.
Best Theme: first, Aidynn LeCompt; second, Sage LaPoint; third place, Finn Harrison.
Shrimp and Petroleum Festival theme: first, Carter Howard.
Group: Sophie and Emma Matte.
Following the parade, a special area for children was opened in Lawrence Park at noon.
The Children’s Village included several fun jumps and other activities for younger festival attendees to enjoy Saturday.