Fourth of July Fireworks Return to Houma
Fireworks light the sky above the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center.
By Naomi King
Published: Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
HOUMA — After a year without traditional Fourth of July fireworks for Houma, local veterans and an eye doctor are reviving the public display and adding a parade and festival.
Harvest Cathedral’s Fireworks Extravaganza, a public fireworks display sponsored by the Houma church, was last held in 2007.
Houma doctor and veterans supporter A.J. “Dr. D.” dela Houssaye took up the torch to organize a July Fourth event at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center. Founded by dela Houssaye the parade and fireworks event is one the doctor said he hopes to continue with support from the community.
“I want to reach out to the veterans and say, ‘Your sacrifices have not been forgotten,’ ” dela Houssaye said.
Houma’s first Patriots’ Parade and Fireworks Display will begin with a 5 p.m. ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park on La. 311 between Polk and St. Charles streets.
The parade will include local soldiers and military vehicles from the Houma-based Regional Military Museum and will honor the National Guard’s Charlie and Delta companies, based in Houma and Thibodaux.
Unlike the revelry familiar during Mardi Gras parades, dela Houssaye said this procession will be “much more respectful, solemn and patriotic.”
“We want to show them how much we appreciate their service,” he said.
The subsequent festival will have children’s activities, free food, speeches, proclamations and music by Cajun fiddler Waylon Thibodeaux of Houma and the Houma-Terrebonne Community Band.
The fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
Dela Houssaye said a patient, Ray Ordoyne, who is also commander of the Houma United Veterans League, told him about the lack of festivities in 2008, and the two decided the day needed local fireworks again. The doctor knows the sacrifices soldiers and their families make. As a 1-year-old, he was orphaned when his father died in the Vietnam War.
“It’s a time to think about why we are celebrating this,” dela Houssaye said. “Veterans have protected our freedom.”
For information or to become a sponsor for the Houma event, contact Melissa dela Houssaye or C.J. Christ at the Military Museum.
Fireworks, music and more planned for Houma
Houma Courier and Thibodaux Comet
Fireworks, music and more return to Houma for the Fourth of July
Published: Monday, June 15, 2009
Terrebonne Parish residents can again celebrate their country and its freedoms this summer with a community event offering the traditional hot dogs, music and fireworks.
Last year’s Fourth of July came and went with no public display in Terrebonne, sparking a Houma eye doctor to team with local veterans to revive the parish’s Independence Day festivities.
The first Patriots’ Parade and Fireworks Display is scheduled for July 4 in Houma, beginning with a wreath-laying ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park on La. 311 and ending with fireworks at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd.
“There (are) a lot of people in this parish interested in honoring our veterans,” said Robin LeJeune, office manager at Specialty Eyecare / SEECA, the eye clinic organizing and helping pay for the Fourth of July event. “We really needed to have an event like this.”
A.J. “Dr. D” dela Houssaye, the clinic’s medical director and a staunch veterans supporter, said he and his staff began organizing the Houma event last July after a local veteran expressed anger with the lack of local festivities honoring the holiday.
“We’re doing it in honor of our country’s freedom,” dela Houssaye said, adding that the event aims to let veterans and active military members know the community appreciates them. “We’re trying to give them the respect and admiration they deserve.”
The Regional Military Museum, based in Houma, joined forces with dela Houssaye earlier this year to help in the array of tasks required to organize the event.
“They’ve really opened some doors for us,” dela Houssaye said of the museum.
“We wanted to make sure it got done,” added C.J. Christ, the museum’s president and CEO and a Korean War veteran.
All parts of the Fourth of July event are free and open to the public.
The celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. July 4 with a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park on La. 311 between Polk and St. Charles streets. The ceremony includes remarks by Maj. Gen. Hunt Downer of Houma, a 21-gun salute and a wreath-laying to honor fallen veterans.
The Patriots’ Parade begins at Veterans Park immediately following the ceremony.
The parade will honor the Army National Guard’s Charlie and Delta companies, based in Houma and Thibodaux, and feature active military members and veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and both Gulf Wars marching and riding in military vehicles, dela Houssaye said.
The parade will include five military vehicles provided by the Regional Military Museum, including Jeeps from the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War eras as well as two track-laying vehicles, one designed to carry personnel and the other for towing.
The parade also will include artillery pieces and other equipment from the museum as well as vehicles from the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office and Houma Police Department, Christ said.
“It’s not going to be a typical parade,” dela Houssaye said. “They’re going to rumble down the street. They’re not going to roll.”
Organizers have invited event sponsors to add floats decorated in patriotic themes to the parade, so floats could form part of the procession, Christ said.
From the park, the parade will head west on La. 311 and turn left onto St. Charles Street. The parade then turns left onto Valhi Boulevard, right onto Civic Center Boulevard and left onto Barrow Street before ending in the Civic Center’s parking lot.
Following the parade, crowds can enjoy free food, live music and fireworks in the Civic Center parking lot.
The Houma-Terrebonne Community Band and Louisiana’s Rockin’ Fiddler, Waylon Thibodeaux, are scheduled to perform.
Martin Folse, founder and owner of Houma-based television station HTV-10, is scheduled to serve as master of ceremonies. HTV forms the title sponsor of the Fourth of July event, dela Houssaye said.
The event will include free hot dogs, soft drinks and dishes prepared by a local restaurant, but dela Houssaye encourages crowds to bring ice chests packed with food and drinks in case the refreshments run out. Organizers are unsure of the amount of food to provide because they have no estimate for the number of people who might attend the first-time event, he said.
Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
“If you’re anywhere around the Civic Center, you’ll be able to see them,” dela Houssaye said.
Staging a brand-new parade and public celebration has proven time-consuming work, even with a welcoming response from the community, he said.
“It’s more a labor of love,” said LeJeune, who has served as the main contact person for the project since its beginning last July.
Through organizing the event, LeJeune said she grew encouraged by the number of locals who express a strong sense of patriotism.
“It’s almost a comfort to see that degree of support” for those who help keep the country’s freedoms intact, she said.
The upcoming Fourth of July celebration could remind locals of the sacrifices made for the freedoms enjoyed every day, she said.
“We forget there (are) people who worked to make this happen,” LeJeune said.
Dela Houssaye said he hopes to continue this event, paid for entirely through private donations, with community support.
“There are a lot of patriots in this community,” dela Houssaye said, but the economy has made it tough for some to contribute to events such as the Fourth of July celebration. “Fundraising has been a challenge.”
Dela Houssaye urges locals to support military members and events showing appreciation for them, such as this one.
Dela Houssaye, who was 1 year old when he lost his father to the Vietnam War, knows personally the toll of military service.
“When your dad doesn’t make it back, it’s a lifetime of sacrifice,” he said