Jean Lafitte News

Lafitte celebrates grand opening of auditorium

At one time, Lafitte had its own auditorium. A place for the community to come together for celebratory events, where many happy occurrences took place and memories were made. However, after being flooded by numerous hurricanes and storms, the toll had been taken on the building. It literally came crashing down.

Finally, after many years, ground was broken on a new facility in April of 2013, and recently Lafitte residents were invited to share in the grand opening of the new Lafitte Auditorium.

This new building is just part of the town resiliency plan called Jean Lafitte Tomorrow that included a week-long meeting among stake-holders. One of the conclusions of the meeting was that Jean Lafitte should focus on developing the heart of the town, and the new auditorium is a crucial step in that development.

The thinking behind the auditorium and its design is that it will help create a more walkable town center, while encouraging private sector development and improving the quality of life for residents.

So, on the evening of Dec. 9, Lafitte residents gathered in their new, 18,000-square foot auditorium featuring a lobby with a box office, a covered porte chochere at the entrance to facilitate covered entry from a vehicle, a 13,000-square foot assembly area, two bars, a state of the art catering kitchen, and three separate bridal areas.

Jambalya and gumbo were served, and residents were able to tour the facilities to see the beautiful new addition to their community. Later, speeches were made and the band Category 6 entertained the crowd.

Councilman Chris Roberts welcomed the guests and residents he described as unique, having overcome 13 natural disasters.

“The former auditorium flooded five separate times, and it is the efforts of the council and Mayor Tim Kerner who raised the money to have this new auditorium built,” he said.

Mayor Kerner spoke next, thanking the many people and agencies who had helped along the way.

“It’s been a long road, but every time we hit a snag in funding, we contacted Ricky Templet or Chris Roberts. Both have been so good to us. I thank God every day to have a town council who wants to do great things for the Town of Jean Lafitte,” Kerner said.

The mayor ended by thanking the residents, who he says are the biggest reason that Lafitte doesn’t look as if a hurricane ever hit.

“We work hard together, and we came back,” he said, adding, “Not many people can say that they did for 25 years exactly what they wanted to do, but I have. For 25 years now, I have served you.”

After the mayor, Councilman Ricky Templet spoke shortly, emphasizing what a great asset to the community the auditorium will be.

“Look at this building. Look around folks, because this is yours. This is $6 million invested in your backyard, enhancing your community,” Templet said.

To reach Lafitte Lagniappe Columnist Lara L. Arceneaux, email, or text 225.276.1559.

WWL TV: Town of Jean Lafitte honored with historical marker

LAFITTE, La. – The town of Jean Lafitte now has its place firmly etched in history, with the unveiling of a historical marker Saturday by the Jefferson Parish Historical Commission.

Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner attended the unveiling ceremony at the Jean Lafitte Visitor Center and Pirate Museum.

“This historical marker will honor the namesake of our town and the spirit of the hardworking people who have lived here for centuries,” Kerner said.

The historical marker reads as follows: “Named for legendary privateer Jean Lafitte, who helped the United States win the Battle of New Orleans and used area bayous for his smuggling operations. Home to a thriving seafood industry. Incorporated in 1974 as a village. Became a town in 1977. First mayor of village and town was Leo E. Kerner, Jr., 1974-1991.”

The Jefferson Parish Historical Commission sponsored the historical marker for the town of Jean Lafitte.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development erects bronze historical markers across the state of Louisiana to commemorate facts, persons, events, and places prominently identified with the history of the nation, state, or region.

“Cajun Christmas on the Bayou” Brings Holiday Cheer to Town of Jean Lafitte

Santa Claus stops by the town of Jean Lafitte amidst holiday lights and decorations on Dec. 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 4917 City Park Dr. in Lafitte.

Tour the new Barataria Museum & Wetland Trace, experience a walking adventure into a festive one mile holiday nature trail and take a memorable photograph with St. Nick himself. Tickets, which are available on site, are $15 for adults and $10 for children and include admission to the museum.

Opening night, Dec. 7, features live music by Escalade Dance & Show Band. Plus, local restaurants will offer seasonal dishes for sale, including fried soft shell shrimp, jambalaya, seafood gumbo, potato salad and seafood pasta.

Lafitte’s Barataria Museum opened in April of this year as wildlife and fisheries museum telling the over 200-year-old story of the town of Jean Lafitte, a historic fishing village 20 miles southwest of New Orleans. Featuring a multi-media theatre presentation and an animated museum exhibition, the museum leads visitors on a journey through the life of pirate Jean Lafitte, the stories and folk traditions of wetland dwellers and the realities of coastal erosion and natural and man-made disasters.

Behind the museum, the Wetland Trace nature trail is a boardwalk trail that loops through a pristine cypress swamp. Visitors will experience holiday lights along the trail during their festive walk through Cajun Christmas on the Bayou.

Town of Jean Lafitte features new addition to Nature Trail

Jean Lafitte, La. – The town of Jean Lafitte encourages residents and tourists alike to take advantage of cooler, fall weather by walking the newly added section of the Wetland Trace nature trail.
“We live in such a unique and beautiful part of the state, and I want everyone to have an opportunity to experience the swamps, waterways and bayous firsthand,” said Mayor of Jean Lafitte Timmy Kerner. “This is great chance for locals to get exercise in our local environment, while tourists can add this to the growing list of attractions in Lafitte.”

The new trail adds ¾ mile to the existing mile-long Wetland Trace, which begins behind the newly unveiled Barataria Museum at 4917 City Park Dr. in Lafitte. The original boardwalk trail was built after Hurricane Katrina and loops through a pristine cypress swamp, offering views of alligators and nesting egrets and access to the Adventures of Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours. Now, the additional loop takes walkers along a natural ridge running alongside a waterway.

“It’s a view of the area you can only witness by getting off the beaten path,” added Kerner. “After experiencing nature at its finest, visitors should stop by the Barataria Museum to learn about the history and culture of this place we call home.”

Lafitte’s Barataria Museum opened in April of this year as wildlife and fisheries museum telling the over 200-year-old story of the town of Jean Lafitte, a historic fishing village 20 miles southwest of New Orleans. Featuring a multi-media theatre presentation and an animated museum exhibition, the museum leads visitors on a journey through the life of pirate Jean Lafitte, the stories and folk traditions of wetland dwellers and the realities of coastal erosion and natural and man-made disasters.

Lafitte celebrates opening of new Barataria Museum and Wetland Trace new barataria museum

Talking alligators and ghostly pirates give Lafitte’s new Barataria Museum and Wetland Trace a sense of the character and charm of the town itself. In a town named for the infamous pirate who once used its waterways as a backdoor to New Orleans, a museum certainly can’t be formal or tedious, and its grand opening wasn’t either.

Live Cajun music by Bruce Daigrepont was a perfect backdrop to the festive occasion with well over 300 in attendance. Visitors danced with skirts twirling, or simply sat back in their camp chairs to enjoy the traditional music. Guests also enjoyed exceptional Cajun cuisine such as alligator stuffed mushrooms, shrimp remoulade and stuffed crabs provided by local restaurants Des Familles, Boute’s and Voleo’s.

Jefferson Parish President John Young and Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner each took a few minutes to talk about the museum and its significance before the ribbon-cutting. “The exhibits bring to life the importance of community, and why it means so much to live down here in Crown Point, Lafitte and Barataria,” Young said.

Kerner agreed, and gave credit to the man he says was the catalyst for the idea behind the museum. “I can’t take credit for the idea, which we’ve been working on since before Katrina. That honor goes to Joe Baucum, who first came to me with the suggestion of a wetlands education center.”

With each successive disaster that has rocked Lafitte in recent years, this project has been pushed back, but it is finally here, and Kerner has been working with several other businesses and groups to promote it. Other area attractions such as various fishing charter companies and Airboat Adventures, LLC, and groups like Louisiana Seafood have teamed up with Kerner to promote the museum to their clientele. Brochures are being distributed to state welcome centers, and New Orleans area hotels will soon have information to display as well. Not only will the museum be an added attraction for those planning a visit, but it makes an exceptional and affordable field trip destination for local schools.

Following the ribbon-cutting, guests were invited to tour the attraction, after which they could stroll along the raised boardwalk nature trail and take a boat tour aboard the Little Cajun pontoon tour boat.

Guests enter the 6,000-square-foot facility and are immediately immersed in the charm of Jean Lafitte and its colorful history. Exhibits include an impressive collection of taxidermy of local wildlife, artifacts and information on the pirate Jean Lafitte, scale models of shrimp boats, pirogues hand-made by local talent, fishing artifacts and photography, local artwork, and even Civil War weapons and ammunition. A state-of-the-art animatronic alligator entertains guests as they tour the exhibits.

The museum also features a small theater capable of seating about 80, with a 20-minute multi-media presentation. Told in an anecdotal fashion, a narrator takes viewers on a journey through the sometimes spooky past and into the future. From the life of pirate Jean Lafitte, to the personal stories of locals and folk traditions, the narrator gives a new perspective on the history of, and life in Jean Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria. Key factors about coastal erosion and how it has affected this area through seven disasters in seven years are related in easily understood terms, and a surprise visitor pops in to keep guests on the edge of their seats.

Finally, visitors can walk along a 1 1/2-mile cypress swamp trail through bayou and marsh to view alligators, snakes, spiders and exotic birds. The lush green environment is also home to beautiful plants, such as native hibiscus, irises and several types of lilies. From March to June, an egret rookery can be observed from the raised walkway as well. Photography enthusiasts will appreciate the ample opportunity for close shots that place them in the middle of the wetlands.

Soon, the museum will not be the only new attraction. A seafood pavilion is in the works as well. Located conveniently near Rosethorne Park, the pavilion will feature booths selling seafood of all types, fresh from the nets, and free live entertainment on the weekends.

Lara L Arceneaux Lafitte Lagniappe Columnist By Lara L Arceneaux Lafitte Lagniappe Columniston April 15, 2013

Jean Lafitte mayor brings boxing gym to town

From the Advocate, New Orleans Edition
March 19, 2013

Jean Lafitte — Hang around Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner long enough, and the conversation is guaranteed to include two topics: Flood protection and boxing.

The issue of securing levees and other flood protection is almost always Kerner’s primary concern, but it doesn’t take much to get him ruminating about the sweet science. The son of a former welterweight who was also the town’s mayor, Kerner tends to talk about politics using boxing metaphors. So it’s no surprise that his latest project in Jean Lafitte is a boxing gym he hopes will keep the area’s youth off the streets and its residents from getting too flabby around the middle.

“I think it will be good for kids, and it will be good for the community,” Kerner said.

Kerner held a grand opening for the gym, which is in the town’s former fisheries museum, last week, and it will be open for memberships Monday. It features several heavy bags and other apparatus, along with a ring in another room for sparring. There will be showers and a dojo for classes in martial arts and self-defense, he said.

Local boxer Chuck Mince will train fighters at the gym four days a week, but it will be open to the public every day, Kerner said. Memberships are available to anyone interested, not just Jean Lafitte residents.

The gym is the latest example of Kerner repurposing the old fisheries museum, which is obsolete after the town opened a newer facility in its new multi-purpose center near City Hall. Previously, Kerner used the building as a dorm for volunteers who would regularly descend on the Lafitte, Barataria and Crown Point areas after floods to help with rebuilding. In fact, Kerner initially planned to open the boxing gym this summer, but those plans were dashed when Hurricane Isaac flooded the facility and forced the town to start over.

“I always wanted to do it, I needed the room to do it,” Kerner said.

The set-up mirrors one Kerner has in his own home, where he is constantly inviting people over to work out. The mayor trained as a boxer in his youth at a gym in Crown Point and said he and his brother often practiced their pugilistic skills on each other and anyone else who bothered them.

However, his vision for the town’s facility is a little different. In recent months, Kerner has lamented the influx of narcotics in the small fishing community and even pushed for changes in how the town selected its police chief so that he could appoint someone to the position he felt would be more aggressive. The town recently received funding from the Jefferson Parish Council to install crime cameras in some troubled areas, a first for the close-knit community.

Kerner noted that boxing not only provides young people with an outlet, the rigors of training combined with the drug testing for competition make it harder to dabble in narcotics. Boxing teaches discipline, he said, and that discipline can be useful for both the young and old.

“We don’t want everybody fighting people on the street and all that. We want them to be disciplined. We want to teach them discipline whether you’re 15 or 50,” Kerner said. “If you participate in competition, you have to be drug tested and be clean.”

The new gym, 580 Jean Lafitte Blvd., will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and monthly memberships will cost $50, with discounts for senior citizens and students. Kerner said a schedule must still be determined for the kickboxing and other martial arts classes, and there will programs for all age groups.

The town also installed special flooring that can be cleaned easily in case the building floods again. Kerner said the gym also will be available for use by the town’s firefighters and police officers, and he expects to expand offerings at the facility depending on participation.