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Donaldsonville Downtown Live at Crescent series kicks off

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief

The new season of free concerts in Donaldsonville began Saturday night.

The Donaldsonville Downtown Live at Crescent series returned to Crescent Park with the band Stormy opening the musical slate.

Put on by the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District, the concerts will continue throughout the spring on the first Saturday of every month. 

Upcoming concerts include: The Mellow Band, April 4; Larry Neal and the Neal Brothers Blues Band, May 2; and DJ Up All Nite, June 6.

Despite the chilly weather Saturday, the opening night was well attended. Many brought along chairs and beverages as they set up their spots in front of the stage.

Lee Melancon, who organizes the event for the DDD, welcomed those in attendance.

His opening remarks included a list of plans for the upcoming months.

He said the annual July 3rd fireworks celebration will be held in Crescent Park, unless the Mississippi River’s level prevents it. In that case, the event would be moved to the Frank Sotile Pavilion.

Melancon also told the crowd about a new event coming in May. It will be modeled similarly to the annual Avenue Evening Stroll, which has been held every year in November.

The May event will be on the first Saturday of the month, and will be an art and cultural event along Railroad Avenue.

“If you’re a fan of champagne, sweets, and wine, you might want to get a ticket to that,” Melancon said.

Additionally, the new Italian festival will continue as an annual event. The original festival was held at the pavilion in October. This year’s event will be at Crescent Park on Oct. 17.

Melancon said the concert series wouldn’t be possible without the sponsors, which include the City of Donaldsonville, CF Industries, Tour Ascension, State Farm, and Elray Kocke Services. New sponsors will be on board this season, he added.

Among the updates provided to the crowd, Melancon informed the group of a new outdoor fitness park coming to Prevost Memorial Hospital. It is expected to open in April, he said.

He also pointed to the historic panels installed throughout the historic district. Tour Ascension revealed the informative kiosks during a ceremony late last year. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser was among the local officials to celebrate the opening.

Also, the River Road African American Museum has begun offering a new bicycle tour of the historic district, he said.

Melancon continued by mentioning a few new restaurants planned for the downtown area.

“I’m not going to be able to share those until they’re here and ready to go,” he said. “But you will probably see the buildings being worked on. So it will kind of give you an idea there.”

After going through the list of things going on around the city, Melancon brought up a news article published by brproud.com, which is the web site of Baton Rouge television channels WVLA and WGMB.

The article cites information published by 247wallst.com. According to the site, it is a Delaware corporation “which runs a financial news and opinion company with content delivered over the Internet.”

According to the original post, the company used data “from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI.” The corporation then created “a weighted index of 22 measures indicative of desirability and overall quality of life to determine the 50 worst cities to live in.”

The company’s “index” further includes data related to the economy, “such as unemployment and poverty, as well as measures of community, including proximity to grocery stores, access to parks, reliable public transportation, and the concentration of cultural attractions and entertainment options.”

The corporation excluded communities with less than 8,000 residents, according to the report.

“I know everyone’s talking about that stupid article that ran that says we’re the second to worst city in America to live,” Melancon said. “The people who were behind that are really driving a nasty political agenda. Let me just say this: I’ve been to a lot of places, and this is far from the worst place to live in America. In fact, if it were the worst place, you wouldn’t be sitting here watching a free concert in a park like this.”

The crowd burst into applause as Melancon continued.

“We’re going to show them our town is something to be proud of,” he said. “And we’re going to bring it places. If you don’t believe that, you’re always welcome to come sit in my office and I’ll show you everything we’re working on. We’re very proud of what we’re doing here in Donaldsonville.”

Melancon went on to add to the list of new ventures planned for the area. He said the Noel Family Distillery will be across the street. He also pointed to some “surprises” coming for the historic Lemann building at the corner.

“Stay tuned because Donaldsonville has not seen her best days yet. She’s coming back, and we’re very proud of that,” he concluded.