Organizers look for ways to build on Plaquemine's July Fourth event success

Staff Report
The July Fourth celebration last week marked the first year the Plaquemine Community Center was used for the event. Organizers say they are still looking at ways to tweak the festivities, even though this year’s event was successful.

Twenty-one years may seem like enough time for an event to operate exactly as its organizers want, but the organizers of Plaquemine’s Fourth of July event do not want to rest on their laurels.

Lorraine Hidalgo, who has overseen Plaquemine’s Independence Day festivities since they began in 2001, still sees room for improvement.

The same applies to Plaquemine Public Works Director Richard Alleman.

The event drew more than 4,000 to the Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Waterfront Park, Henry Nadler Pavilion and Plaquemine Community Center for an array of events that were capped off by a fireworks display over the Mississippi River.

Both agree that the time of the event – 5 p.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m. – suits the celebration perfectly.

“When it first started, it was an all-day event, and once the park opened, we pushed it back, and that made it so much better,” Hidalgo said. “It’s going to be like any other event – ongoing changes. You always have opportunities to do things differently.”

The sites for the festivities also help.

The completion of the community center and other improvements near the waterfront park have made the area an ideal site for the bash.

“Having everything in close proximity works so well,” Hidalgo said. “It seems like keeping everything close makes it much easier to manage the event.”

It’s a long way from what Plaquemine offered for Fourth of July prior to 2001.

Aside from a 1976 Bicentennial celebration spearheaded by the Plaquemine Jaycees, the city never had a Fourth of July celebration.

The event has grown each year since the inaugural celebration in 2001. Alleman expects the growth to continue.

“This has become the city’s premiere event,” he said.

As with Hidalgo, Alleman believes the city should continue tweaking the project.

“The main thing I’d change is the placement of certain attractions,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s a constant process of figuring out what we need the change and what we’re lacking.”

He’d also like to see the bands perform in the pavilion rather than the community center, which would make the event even more attractive to visitors.

Hidalgo said she will work to involve more military organizations for the event.

“That’s what it’s all supposed to be about,” she said. “This whole event is like a recipe that needs to be tweaked year to year.”

Regardless of the changes, both want to see the event continue on its growth spurt.

Alleman believes some may have ventured from Baton Rouge to enjoy a less crowded event.

“I know most of the faces in Plaquemine, and there were many this year that I couldn’t recognize,” he said. “And, I must say that I like that.”