Evangeline 2021 Isabella LoBue seeks a future of helping others
Hard work and determination became part of Isabella LoBue’s repertoire before she entered grade school, and now those attributes will lead her into a new chapter in her life.
Isabella, daughter of Jarid and Gina LoBue, will officially begin her reign as Evangeline during a ceremony Saturday night along Bayou Plaquemine.
The Evangeline Mass will be at 4 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, followed by the presentation of Evangeline and the princesses at 6 p.m. at Plaquemine Community Center.
The ceremony honors the Acadian roots shared by many local residents. It includes a reenactment of Longfellow’s poem in which Acadian exile Emmeline LaBiche (Evangeline) travels down from Bayou Plaquemine on her journey to the Teche Country in search of her lover Louis Arceneaux (Gabriel).
In the ceremony, Evangline – the festival queen – arrives to greet the crowd at Waterfront Park by fire-lit pirogues.
LoBue will reign over festivities for the International Acadian Festival and other events over the next year as part of a local tradition that began in 1969.
LoBue was selected during a ceremony last month among girls to serve as Evangeline, a tradition the Knights of Columbus began in 1969 with the inception of the International Acadian Festival.
Three weeks after the official announcement, the reality has not fully sunk in, said LoBue, a lifelong resident of Plaquemine.
“It’s getting there,” she said. “I was very excited when they called my name. It was a big honor.”
A busy schedule awaits LoBue, but she’s already accustomed to a full slate. She plays volleyball, basketball and golf, and has been involved in community programs through St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
Athletics have been a part of her life since she was 4, when she played T-ball. She moved into Biddy Ball and softball, and she has never strayed far from athletic competition.
“It’s been a big part of my life and it has taught me a lot about leadership, especially on the high school teams, setting an example by how I play and how I act on the court,” LoBue said. “It has also taught me never to give up and never quit because sometimes you may not feel like doing it or you don’t want to keep going on, but you learn it’s best not to give up.”
She credits her parents, along with St. John basketball/softball coach Cynthia Prouty, for helping her develop a “never say quit” mentality.
“She’s been one of my biggest influences,” she said. “I grew up with her, and I’ve learned so much from her along the way.”
Not all of her interests center around athletics.
LoBue also enjoys reading, watching movies and participating in community theater.
She performed with the Iberville Community Theater, including the role of Scout in the theater’s production of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The role gave her more than just an experience in community theater.
“It shaped me as a person,” LoBue said. “It opened my eyes to what I do when I grow up, and it’s really what inspired me to go to law school. I want to help people who don’t quite get the justice they deserve.”
The role of Scout also had a profound influence on her.
“She was always asking questions and, being so young, she couldn’t understand everything that was going on and why people were saying such bad things about her dad and why they were acting the way they did toward certain people,” LoBue said. “It’s a very interesting role for the main character because you got it from a child’s perspective.”
It made empathy a big part of her life, and about the importance of acceptance in a judgmental society.
“I tell people to have perspective because you don’t know what other people are going through, and for that reason you shouldn’t judge them so quicky,” she said. “You’re not in their shoes and you don’t know what they’re going through.”
She loves both the book and the movie version.
Both have helped her develop a well-rounded approach to life.
“I credit that to my parents who never told me ‘no’ and were always willing to let me try things, and never said they didn’t have time for it,” LoBue said. “I was very shy when I was little, so when I became interested in community theater, they wanted to branch out, so my parents really opened those doors for me.”
It fits nicely into the upcoming yeas as Evangeline, she said.
“Evangeline should be a part of the community, working with the community and someone who loves the community and knows the history,” she said. “I love my community and I respect the KCs for doing as much as they do.”
LoBue looks forward to the busy year ahead, particularly the upcoming International Acadian Festival on Oct. 22-24, and the Washington, D.C., Mardi Gras celebration.
It will be her second trip to the nation’s capital. She made her first visit in sixth grade as part of trip organized by teacher Donna Kirkland.
The empathy came out during the trip at a visit to the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
“I remember a homeless veteran telling his story, and it was the first time I learned about that, and I left the memorial crying,” LoBue said.
The conversation with the Vietnam veteran furthered her desire to embark on a career in advocacy law, perhaps in the field of public policy or political science.
“We have so many people who need us to speak up for, and those are the ones who often get left behind,” she said. “I want to be the voice for those people.
LoBue has not yet selected which college she will attend. She listed Suwannee in Tennessee, along with Birmingham Southern, as her top prospects.
Her ideal day off includes time at home with her parents. She loves watching classic movies with her mom, particularly two classic movies based on plays by Tennessee Williams: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” (1958), starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives, as well as “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), which starred Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh.
She also enjoys helping around the house and working in the flower beds.
Once she gets through the year as Evangeline, LoBue said she wants to see the world.
“I definitely love to travel, and I’d love to study abroad, perhaps for a semester,” she said. “I want to see different ways of life and see things from a different perspective.”