Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
I take pride that my hometown, Mobile, Alabama, is the home of Mardi Gras. On my recent tour of the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, I found here that Carnival season is celebrated year round. The museum told the story of how Lake Charles celebrates the season and bought back fond home town memories of ‘Throw me something, Mister.’
This six-room museum features the largest collection of Mardi Gras regalia in the South and the collection grows yearly duet to the donations of costumes from members of the Krewes at the end of each season. As the collection grows, so does its encroachment into the halls of the Lake Charles Central School of Arts and Humanities Center or the Historic 1912 Central School. The museum opened in 1998 on its mission to preserve Louisiana’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration.
THE COSTUME COLLECTION
The collection in the Museum is impressive beyond belief. I was fascinated with the detail and sheer size of the mantles that adorn the costumes. Everything from space aliens to kings and queens is represented. In Mobile, the Mardi Gras Kings and Queens invest thousands of dollars into the design, size, and length of the trains of their costumes. In Lake Charles, the mantles of the costume are impressive and some are massive. The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu Museum is awash in vivid colors.
Lake Charles’ Carnival celebration is something special. Since 1964, with the formation of its first Krewe, the Krewe of Cosmos, Lake Charles has made carnival something for everyone. The common there for Mobile and Lake Charles is the celebration of traditions that remain constant, it’s all about the party.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!!
HISTORIC WORLD WAR TWO DESTROYER IN LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA
I did not expect to find a naval vessel docked on the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles but what I found was a story of determination by a small number of volunteers.
The Orleck was built in 1944 in Orange, Texas and commissioned in 1945 by the widow of Joseph Orleck’s widow. The destroyer served from 1945-1982 where it served throughout World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The ship was then purchased by the Turkish Navy and renamed Yucetepe where it served until 2000. The ship was then transferred to a foundation in Orange, Texas where it was to be made a museum ship. Hurricane Rita severely damaged the ship then 2009 and it was moved to the City of Lake Charles for display as a museum ship. The Orleck is one of the few U.S. Destroyers that remains on display in the U.S.
For some older visitors, the ship brings back memories. Many visitors have been crewmen that served onboard as well as individuals who worked in Orange, Texas where the ship was constructed. Ninety year old, Rosa Lee Miller, who on her visit showed the volunteers where she installed cabling throughout the ship.
Ron Williams, Executive Director is the spokesperson for the ship. He explained that money is always an issue for ship and the group has come up with many inventive ways to keep the coffers full. Recently the Orleck worked with a movie company which used some artifacts from the ship. This was a profitable venture. Ron also told me that the volunteers are the key to the success of the ship.
One volunteer, David has been working on the Orleck for several years and told me that, “You can’t put a price on the memories that people share when they visit the ship.” He also enjoys teaching history to the kids and showing them how things work on the ship.
Check out this piece of history in Lake Charles, you will be glad you did.