Thrive March 2024

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Economic Update

MARCH 2024
Foodies Guide to SWLA spring festival planner
first person with DR. DAN GROFT
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4 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives –family, health, home and career. Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Layout Barbara VanGossen Kyra Labrie Austin Rains Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions
On page 45 of last month's issue, in the story on Derrick Kee, the last line should read: "And serving Calcasieu Parish is my way of giving back and making a positive difference in my community by providing quality representation.” 26 54 Contents @thriveswla | Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. In This Issue Money & Career 6 - 23 SPECIAL SECTION: 12 first person with Dr. Dan Groft Wining & Dining 25 - 29 SPECIAL SECTION: Places & Faces 30 - 39 SPECIAL SECTION: 40 The Arts come Alive in Springtime 44 Just Imagine SWLA 46 Who's News 47 San Miguel-McLeod Banners Event Mind & Body 48 Teen Mental Health and Addictive Behaviors 50 Medical Marijuana 52 CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital Celebrates 200th Operation in New Hybrid Operating Room Style & Beauty 54 Add a Pop of Color 56 Dress for the Fest 58 Sculpting Beauty Home & Family 60 - 69 SPECIAL SECTION: 70 Donations to Holden's Hope Can be Made Through Income Tax Checkoff Economic Update SPONSORED BY SWLA SPRING FESTIVAL PLANNER DIG UP SOME DIRT Spring Lawn & Garden 8

Global energy leader.

The Port and Calcasieu Ship Channel are “America’s Energy Corridor” — as the world’s top LNG exporter and as a handler of petrochemicals and global cargoes of all types and sizes.

$39 billion impact.

The Calcasieu Ship Channel drives $39 billion of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, as well as, two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

More growth ahead.

Capacity and capability are growing for lumber, rice and other cargoes. Also, the Calcasieu Ship Channel will see billions in planned projects, adding more cargo every year.
6 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024

Money & Career Economic Update

Most people in Southwest Louisiana are aware that the local industries are the primary driver of our thriving SWLA economy. We hear the names in the news . . . CITGO, Phillips 66, Westlake, Sasol, etc. . . and we see them there – can’t miss them – as we drive along I-10 from Lake Charles through Sulphur. They make a statement! But unless someone is employed by one of “the plants” or is close to someone who works in the industries, not everyone fully understands what each business

does, what they manufacture, and why such a wide variety of industry-related businesses are integral to the livelihood of our community. Our goal in this year’s annual Economic Update is to help our readers better understand the roles our many industries play in our local economy. You’ll also find exciting news on tourism, community development, and information on the organization that ties the threads of our business community together – the SWLA Economic Development Alliance. 7

Money & Career

SWLA Industries Fuel Up our Local Economy



Petroleum Refineries

CITGO Lake Charles, Phillips 66 Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex, and Calcasieu Refining Company are examples of refineries. They manufacture a wide range of products including gasoline and diesel, aviation and jet fuels, butane, benzene, toluene, propylene, sulfur, petroleum coke, solvents and kerosene.

Whether you’re driving a vehicle, flying an airplane, or cooking on a camp stove, you use the products of a refinery.

How it works. Crude oil comes to the plants from the oilfields via ships and pipelines. It is heated in a distillation tower. Because different parts of the oil evaporate at different temperatures, this process separates the oil into various components, such as gasoline and diesel. Next comes the “cracking” process, where heavy components are separated from lighter components and large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules. At that point, the product might go through a “hydro-treating” process where hydrogen is used to remove impurities and make the product lighter. These products can then be “blended” to create other products.

chemical plants

The number and variety of chemical facilities in SWLA are astounding, and a great representation of the Periodic Table!

• Firestone Polymers makes rubber products used primarily for tires.

• Biolab Inc., a chlorine manufacturer, develops, produces, and markets swimming pool and spa maintenance products, as well as household cleaning products.

• Calca Solutions makes hydrazine-based solutions which are used in diverse applications such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, water treatment and aerospace.

• Indorama Ventures Olefins manufactures ethylene, which is used in the production of polymers and other industrial chemicals.

• Alcoa makes large industrial-sized carbon anodes and cathodes.

W.R. Grace Lake Charles is the largest refining catalyst plant in the world. In addition to U.S. destinations, production is shipped to locations in Europe, Southeast Asia and South America. The site consists of five major production areas: sodium silicate, additive plants, alumina plant, fluid cracking catalysts and hydro-processing catalysts.

Westlake is a four-site complex that includes the following plants:

• Lake Charles North, a small site surrounded by Sasol, produces vinyl chloride monomer. The process takes Ethylene Dichloride (EDC) as feedstock to produce vinyl chloride (VCM) which can then be used to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. These resins are used for pipe, siding and other applications such as windows, doors, decking, wire and cable, flooring, medical, film and sheet and many more applications.

• Lake Charles South, formerly PPG, then Axiall, produces chlor-alkali which is processed into chlorine gas and caustic soda and is used to

make pulp and paper, glass, coatings, automotive components and more. Chlorine is used in the manufacture of VCM, PVC, and is a key component used in water treatment by municipalities and in swimming pools.

• Petro, on Highway 108, produces ethylene which leads to the production of polyethylene and ethylene dichloride. Polyethylene is produced by both Petro and Poly, located on Cities Service Highway. Polyethylene is used in flexible packaging, medical-grade plastics, stretch wrap, fruit coatings, agricultural film, beauty products, injections molds, asphalt, candles, and more.

Lotte Chemical Louisiana LLC primarily makes mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). MEG is used to make antifreeze, engine coolant, and polyester fibers. These polyester fibers form the basis for polyester and fleece fabrics, upholstery, carpets, pillows, and food-grade and general-purpose plastic bottles.

Louisiana Pigment produces the highest quality Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) pigment in the United States. TiO2 is used to make paints, catalytic coatings, plastics, paper, pharmaceuticals, and sunscreen. Some lesserknown applications include packaging and commercial printing inks. TiO2 can also be found in cosmetics, toothpastes, and food (where it is listed as the food colorant E171).

LyondellBasell produces polypropylene that their customers use to make clothing, food packaging, household furnishings, automotive parts and home building materials.

Sustainability is a key part of the long-term strategy at Sasol's Lake Charles Chemical Complex. They produce ingredients for many everyday household products, from shampoos and cleaning supplies to paints and adhesives. Their teams focus on finding innovative ways to create sustainable products that improve everyday lives. Sasol also strives to

8 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Economic Update – local industry

reduce its own energy consumption using renewable power, process optimization and investments in efficiency. Together, these efforts are transforming the chemicals industry and creating a safer, more sustainable world.

PPG Lake Charles manufactures precipitated silica derived from quartz sand, much of which is sourced locally. Silica is used to produce a variety of products such as tires and other rubber goods, footwear, foods, feed, paints, inks, adhesives, and sealants.

Southern Ionics manufactures aluminum, sulfur, ammonia, and zirconium products that are ultimately used in a broad range of applications including production of safe drinking water, removal of pollutants from air and water, catalyst for clean fuels, and production of white pigment for paints.

Methane Manufacturing New on the Scene

The most recent news on the SWLA industrial front is the planned construction of the world’s first methane manufacturing plant that will capture and sequester its own CO2. Known as Lake Charles Methanol II, the facility will use natural gas as primary feedstock to produce methanol, which ultimately is used as feedstock for other plants to manufacture other products. To those not familiar with industry jargon, “feedstock” has nothing to do with farm animals – it is the materials a petro-chemical company uses to manufacture their products. The project is currently going through permitting processes and is expected to begin construction sometime this fall.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

The history of LNG in Southwest Louisiana dates back to 1959, with the opening of the first LNG export facility, the Lake Charles LNG Terminal. But the SWLA LNG industry really took off in 2016 when Cheniere Energy exported its first shipment of LNG from Sabine Pass. This marked a shift in the U.S. from being a net importer of natural gas to becoming a significant exporter, contributing to the global LNG trade. Sabine Pass was the first facility in the mainland United States to export LNG on a large scale and is currently the largest producer and exporter of LNG in the United States. With six trains, the Sabine Pass Export terminal has an LNG production capacity of 34.56 million tons annually. Southwest Louisiana has truly become the epicenter of the American LNG industry.

Cameron LNG, owned by Sempra, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Total Energies, was developed from a regasification facility in 2011 and became fully operational in 2020. With three trains, the Cameron Export terminal has an LNG production capacity of 13.5 million tons per year.

continuted on p10

Local Industries Have a Positive Economic Impact

Local industries have a positive economic impact in Southwest Louisiana. Their tax dollars are used to improve our roads and parks, upgrade equipment for area law enforcement, and to better our educational system. Local industries are an important part of the economic region in Southwest Louisiana, producing opportunity right here at home. 9 Sponsored by
in property and sales tax
in payroll and benefits
All statistics are from 2023. Producing Opportunity
$225 million
$1.2 billion
8,000 direct employees
Over Over Over

Money & Career

Last month, Tellurian, Inc was granted a three-year extension to begin operations at their Driftwood LNG export facility. The company recently made a $1 million pledge in support of the LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese State University. A portion of these funds will be used to provide students with scholarships for the new McNeese LNG Business Certificate.

Venture Global Calcasieu Pass, Venture Global Calcasieu Pass 2, Commonwealth and Lake Charles LNG (formerly Trunkline LNG and owned by Energy Transfer) are other export facilities in various stages of approvals and development.

How it works. Natural gas is extracted from underground reservoirs through drilling wells. This gas usually contains impurities like water, sulfur, and carbon dioxide. The gas undergoes processing to remove impurities and separate various components. It is then cooled to extremely low temperatures, around -260°F, through a process called liquefaction. This transforms the gas into a liquid form, making it more compact and easier to transport. LNG is transported in special cryogenic tankers designed to keep it at very low temperatures while being transported to global markets.

Industry Support Services

Support businesses are the backbone of SWLA’s industrial landscape. The large corporations would not be able to function without the goods and services provided by these smaller ventures, many of which are locally owned and operated. A complete list of the countless companies that support the industries could fill an entire Thrive issue. We’ve included some general categories here to give an idea of the types of businesses the larger facilities lean on each day to function.

• Engineering firms help corporations make their ideas and plans become reality.

• Sub-contractors provide services such as pipefitting, welding, electrical, insulation, carpentry, scaffolding, heavy equipment operation, HVAC, even janitorial needs.

• Suppliers of parts, tools, chemicals, pipes, valves, and equipment rental companies ensure the plant employees have everything they need to carry out their work.

• Machine and fabrication shops fix broken equipment and fashion new parts.

• Recruiters and relocation specialists help bring in the right people for job openings.

• Environmental companies help industries protect our natural resources.

• Even restaurants and caterers who provide food to the workforce can be considered support services!

Overall, the impact of the Refining, Petro-Chemical and LNG industries on our Southwest Louisiana economy is significant and cannot be overstated. The plants and the many support services create abundant job opportunities. The development of industrial infrastructure brings investments that stimulate growth through sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and services. Local businesses of all types benefit from the increased economic activity. These industries contribute substantially to local and state tax revenues, which can be used to fund public services, infrastructure projects, and community development initiatives. Also noteworthy, these companies and their employees often engage in community outreach and philanthropy by supporting local education, healthcare, and social programs, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

10 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Economic Update – local industry Sponsored by

Chennault impact.

Chennault means jobs and growth.

Chennault International Airport is a vital, valuable, jobcreating component of the Calcasieu Parish economy.

Chennault has a $410 million annual economic impact in Southwest Louisiana, according to economist Dr. Loren Scott. Chennault also:

• Has tenant partners who employ 1,000 local people in good-paying jobs.

• Creates $177 million in annual sales for Calcasieu Parish businesses.

• Drives $136 million in overall household earnings in Calcasieu Parish.

• Serves as the central location in a natural disaster or emergency, such as the 2020 hurricanes, when Chennault hosted people, resources, and emergency aid throughout the complex.

The growth continues. We’ll soon be the home of the Louisiana National Guard’s new $32 million readiness center. 11
Jobs. Growth. Development. #chennaultimpact

Dan Groft, PhD was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. His father, in sales, moved the family around a bit, but Groft primarily grew up near Cincinnati, Ohio. But it was those family ties that prompted him to return to Louisiana and get his doctorate degree at LSU. He was hired by McNeese State University in 2011 as an assistant professor, where he worked for two years. He left that role to serve as the economist at Louisiana Economic Development, where for four years he provided economic research services and produced statistical data, frequent economic reports and analyses for use by regional partners, marketing staff, clients, the legislature, and other governmental bodies. In 2017, he moved to the Louisiana Department of Revenue. “These roles gave me a lot of background in terms of economic development, taxation, rules, and laws,” says Groft. When he learned that the H.C. Drew Center for Business and Economic Analysis (Drew CBEA) at McNeese was being revamped and they needed someone to run it, Groft felt he’d be a good fit. He applied and was hired in 2019. He says the Drew CBEA has been around for decades as a means to track the local economy, though it was a bit under the radar for several years. When Dr. Daryl Burckel was named president of McNeese in 2017, he approached the Chamber Alliance to breathe new life into the Center. The Drew CBEA is now a joint partnership

between the Alliance and McNeese, and over the past five years under Groft’s leadership, has become a well-respected source for economic data.

Thrive recently sat down with Groft where he explained some of the nuances that affect SWLA economics, where our local and state economy is presently, and where it might be going.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE FIELD OF ECONOMICS? The first class I ever attended in college was microeconomics. The teacher was great. He really related it to our lives. I appreciated the way the science of economics relates to life, to business, to politics, statistics, the data analysis . . . it touched on everything.

WHAT CHANGES DID YOU MAKE TO THE DREW CBEA AND HOW DOES THE CENTER BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITY? We created and maintain a website where all the data is updated and available for download, with interactive graphs. We generate quarterly reports with data on the main economic variables for every parish in our region. We write timely essays on a variety of economic topics. We recently started the SWLA Economic Intel Podcast, where I talk to a variety of people in our region about our economy. It’s on Apple and Spotify. We talk to the media and keep them up to date on what’s happening in our local economy. From an economic standpoint, we live in an interesting area. Our region was the first in the continental United States to export LNG. Plus, the hurricanes and our recovery. It’s been a big thing, economically.

first person with


Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Drew CBEA

12 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Money & Career Economic Update – first person


I see the state and local economy as having a slightly improved outlook. There’s a lot of action along I-10 and south of it across the state, but much less north of 1-10. Most forecasters are no longer predicting a national recession to pull us down with the rest of the nation but there may be a slowdown which could affect us. Southwest Louisiana will hopefully see continued growth throughout the next year as our area continues to recover from the pandemic and the storms. We are still not at pre-pandemic levels. We have been growing steadily since mid-2022, and hopefully SWLA will continue to grow through this year. Statewide, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty at the moment. There’s a new state administration, new federal regulations affecting parts of our energy industries, and a federal election coming up in November.


State employment has been steadily increasing since the start of the pandemic, and we are almost at the pre-pandemic level. Unemployment is very low by historical standards. Our area’s employment has been on a slight upward trajectory since the middle of 2022. Right now, recovery efforts/comeback

are still a big part of economic growth in the area. Since the storms, every industry, except construction, has exceeded its previous employment levels. The largest comeback has been in leisure and hospitality, which is great news showing that we are attracting visitors and people are going out more to restaurants, etc. Professional and business services have also made a great comeback since the storms. Manufacturing has experienced the second fastest growth since the storms. Our industrial base will always be a main driver of this economy, even as we look to diversification efforts. We can diversify within our industrial base. It would be nice to have construction growing more than it has over the past two years because that signals more residential homes and industrial activities. We still need population growth and a larger labor force to help us in the longer term.

AND WHERE ARE WE HEADED? WHAT IS YOUR ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR OUR REGION? Most economic forecasts are always changing. New data comes out, the forecast changes. Currently, most forecasts have us adding jobs (about 1,000) over the next year before reaching a flattening trend in the next five years. However, that could drastically change as new projects come online and the federal

permit pause on new LNG export facilities gets straightened out. With new LNG facilities waiting to reach Final Investment Decision, these could result in a lot of construction jobs in the area and then permanent jobs to run them. We can also play a great role in the energy transition. You hear a lot about solar farms and carbon capture coming to our region. That will lead to more jobs and help sustain our existing industries. The LC Methanol II project is also huge. Finally, the new I-10 bridge is a great long-term project that will not only provide jobs but improve our infrastructure for long-term growth. Hopefully, when people pass that bridge, they will see a nicer view with more lakefront development (Port Wonder, Crying Eagle, etc.) and improved city and parish upgrades (LC Rebound, Just Imagine) as all these long-term recovery plans are implemented. So, our trajectory can really turn based on a few events which is why it’s so hard to predict the future.


I love music. I’m an International Blues Scholar from Delta State University. I love athletic events, especially attending McNeese State University games. My wife, April Broussard, and I enjoy traveling. And I’m just glad to be back in Southwest Louisiana. I really love the area. 13 Sponsored by

Money & Career

Chennault To Launch Even More Job-Creating Capacity

News last month of a $2.5 million federal grant is the latest example of how economic powerhouse Chennault International Airport is steamrolling into 2024. A center for economic diversity in SWLA, Chennault is a nationally recognized center of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul — everything from painting to high-end interior refinishing — and has served the needs of government heads of state to civilian and military aircraft from around the world for more than three decades.

Chennault’s tenant partners — firms such as Northrop Grumman, Citadel Completions, LandLocked Aviation Services, CDL Mentors, Jeff Davis Electric, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Masonite/Louisiana Millwork, to name a few — employ over 1,000 people. Those aren’t government jobs. They’re people hired by the many companies who operate at Chennault.


The $2.5 million federal grant for expansion of its fire-suppression capacity to support business growth will be matched with $2.3 million in local funds and is expected to create and retain more than 1,200 jobs and generate $5.9 million in private investment, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. "This represents a very significant opportunity for the airport, community and state,” said Chennault Executive Director Kevin Melton. “It’s part of a strategic plan to build resilient infrastructure so that we can build even more job opportunities for this region.”

The funding is from the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023. Overall, Chennault International Airport is investing millions in various projects this year that are expected to expand the airport’s capabilities. The plan is to bring more than 12 projects to life, including a wastewater treatment building for the paint hangar, the utility corridor project to prepare for new buildings, and a new firewater pumphouse that will push millions of gallons of water to the hangars in case of fire.


With 900-plus acres available for economic development, there’s still room for expansion. One new tenant partner, the Louisiana National Guard, will move into its new $32 million, 60,000-square-foot readiness center. Furthermore, Chennault’s multi-year master plan — which includes $20 million this year alone for roads, hangars, warehousing and manufacturing — is intended to capitalize on the development opportunities offered across the airport.


• Annual economic impact – $410 MILLION

• Sales at businesses in the parish annually – $177 MILLION

• Total annual household earnings in Calcasieu Parish – $136 MILLION

• Amounts returned to local and state governments – $7.2 MILLION AND $11.4 MILLION, RESPECTIVELY

• Capital improvements at the airport over the last five years – $39 MILLION

For more information, visit and follow the airport on LinkedIn and Facebook.

14 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Economic Update – chennault

On the Radar for LAIA: Economic Benefits, Quality of Life, LNG, and Carbon Capture

Local industries continue to experience tremendous growth as they produce ingredients for products used in everyday activities. As the umbrella organization designed to communicate between member industries and the community and government entities, Lake Area Industry Alliance (LAIA) provides education on issues affecting business, industry, and trade.

“We provide factual information to the community regarding industrial operations that could affect residents, and we work with local education leaders from elementary school to university, community college and trade school levels to enhance the education systems to meet the present and future needs of the industrial community,” explains Jim Rock, executive director of LAIA.

LAIA is multi-faceted with the overall goal of bringing industry together to enhance Southwest Louisiana. There are 25 local industry members in LAIA. “Through regular meetings and communication, we address issues and challenges that facilities are facing, and work together to solve them,” he says. “We also share best practices on subjects like preparation for extreme weather events and in recent years, dealing with the pandemic and supply chain issues. We collaborate with local community, government, and charitable organization leaders to see how we can work together to enhance our part of the state.”

Rock shares 2023 statistics of the impact of LAIA-member industries in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes:

• Over $1.2 billion in payroll and benefits

• Over 8,000 in direct employees

• $234 million in property and sales taxes

Among LAIA-member LNG industries in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, the numbers for 2023 include:

• $34.5 billion in existing LNG facility investment

• Over 800 direct employees

• $45.8 million in property tax

The rapid growth in demand for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, has propelled our region into the position of being the number one exporter in the world. “It’s a stunning milestone for a nation that recently was a net importer of natural gas,” Rock says. “As nations transition away from coal and other energy sources to generate electricity and heat homes, Southwest Louisiana is poised to continue to be the leader in providing LNG as a cleaner alternative for energy.”

LAIA also works with existing and potential future members on achieving climate change initiatives. Subjects like carbon capture and sequestration are being studied and evaluated for applications in SWLA given our ideal geology and industrial pipeline infrastructure.

The planned LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese will be another educational tool to not only prepare graduates to be successful in the energy industry and provide a pipeline of talent, but also provide continuing education opportunities for the existing workforce.

Volunteers from local industries contribute to countless organizations with over 25,000 hours per year dedicated to local non-profits, Partners in Education with Calcasieu and Cameron Parish School Districts, Chem Expo, Educators’ Institute, Trash Bash, and others.

“Industries have been in Southwest Louisiana since the 1940’s and are a considerable driving force for our economy and quality of life,” Rock says. “These industries provide careers with a consistent high level of employment, economic stability, and educational enhancements.” 15 Economic Update – laia

building a destination: #Getdowntownlc

A city’s downtown plays an important and unique role in economic and social development. Healthy downtowns create opportunities for concentrated commercial, cultural, civic and other activities.

Thriving, lively and in a constant state of positive change. These are just three thoughts that come to mind when describing the current state of Downtown Lake Charles.

“Over the past two years in particular, downtown festival life has been robust, bringing an eclectic mix of traffic to the area; something that lends itself to increased economic activity and opportunity,” says Mayor Nic Hunter. “Additionally, several new businesses and initiatives are now calling Downtown Lake Charles home. A thriving downtown corridor is a sign of a healthy city and we are very optimistic about the future of our Downtown and Lakefront Development Districts.”

The necessity of a thriving downtown is a sentiment echoed by Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Chair Nathaniel Allured. “A vibrant downtown provides economic vitality and diversity, along with creating a social, cultural and entertainment hub. Enhancements to the District increase the city's physical attractiveness while creating a walkable, livable, and appealing urban core, helping attract and retain young professionals.”

From festivals and business development to infrastructure and housing projects, the downtown and lakefront corridors have seen significant activity in recent years, and 2024 is off to a strong, promising start. A number of capital infrastructure projects are slated for Downtown in 2024, including a series of street overlays on Broad, Kirby, Pujo, Ryan, Mill, Common and Division Streets.

“Street overlays may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, but these capital investments are critical to fueling economic growth in the District,” adds Mayor Nic Hunter. “Other infrastructure investments, such as the planned Mill Street Streetscape, add extra value, connecting nearby residents and increasing overall walkability in the area.”

This increased walkability is an important focus point according to Allured. “There is still a lot to accomplish regarding pedestrian improvements to intersections and additional streetscaping, along with better connectivity from the core of downtown to the Lake Charles Event Center grounds and the lakefront.

The DDA is also working to identify locations and funding for new art installations within the district to create more "Instagrammable" moments.”

In addition to public infrastructure, a number of notable developments are underway. Construction on Port Wonder, which will house a new Children’s Museum and LDWF Science and Nature Center, is well underway, with an anticipated opening date set for later this summer, and the restoration of the Lakefront Parking Garage is largely complete. Construction is complete on a new North Beach pier, and several new amenities have been added to the lakefront, including Lake Area Adventure Kayak Rentals, beach volleyball, soccer, and pickleball courts.

“We started 2024 off with a groundbreaking ceremony for Crying Eagle’s lakefront location, which will be between Port Wonder and the

parking garage,” adds Mayor Hunter. “Improvements to the boardwalk in this area and the construction of new restrooms on North Beach are also planned for this year.”

Other noteworthy ventures underway include Planet Construction’s restoration of the historic structure located at the corner of Ryan and Division Streets, construction of a new B1 Bank in the 800 block of Ryan Street, and the Devall brother’s ongoing restoration of a historic Kirby Street property.

Additionally, new shops such as Mantra Yoga, Mueller’s Vintage and The Emporium are now offering additional retail and wellness options.

Construction is also well underway on Woodring Apartments, bringing new residential units to the corner of Bilbo and Division Streets. These storm-fortified housing options are scheduled to hit the market in September of this year.

“Other notable projects the community can look forward to hearing more about in 2024 include the Louisiana Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park, a new attraction in Ten Pin Alley and the transformation of Lock Park to the City’s first fully inclusive playground thanks to a partnership with LyondellBasell and Families for Inclusion,” says Mayor Hunter.

Football fans can also look forward to cheering on the Louisiana Voodoo who will bring arena football back to the City when they call the Lake Charles Event Center their home field for the 2024 spring season.

“The overall outlook for downtown is bright,” concludes Allured. “There are a lot of exciting developments to be happy about, especially the completion of Port Wonder.”

“If you have not been to Downtown Lake Charles lately to enjoy a meal, visit Historic City Hall or patronize the shops, do yourself a favor and plan a visit,” adds Mayor Nic Hunter. “From lively festivals and events to brand new attractions like Port Wonder, our downtown and lakefront are truly destinations perfect for residents and visitors alike.”

Katie C. Harrington is the Public Information Officer for the City of Lake Charles.

16 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Money & Career
Economic Update – #getdowntownlc
B1 Bank building under construction on Ryan Street. 17 CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPS, CRPC Investment Advisor Representative Butch Ferdinandsen Securities and investment advisory services offered through Osaic Wealth, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Osaic Wealth is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of Osaic Wealth. Let us help you make a plan. JOIN OUR TEAM At Cameron LNG, the people who work for us are our greatest asset. We are fueling economic prosperity by providing opportunities for individuals interested in a rewarding career in Southwest Louisiana. Visit: > Careers > Jobs at CLNG Cameron LNG is an equal opportunity employer & considers all applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, handicap or disability, or any other protected category, in accordance with applicable state & federal law.
Port Wonder
Downtown Lake Charles is looking

Chamber SWLA

If you are in business, they work for you.


Chambers of Commerce were founded across the world starting as early as 1599 under many names like a Board of Commerce or a Merchants or Trade Association. The goal then is the same as today, to band the power of many businesses together to act as the voice for the business community, to advocate for the business community, and recruit and develop new businesses for the community. In that regard, the only thing that has changed is the technology. As one of the largest Chambers in the state, the Chamber SWLA is proactive in attracting industry and growing our economy, developing leadership, and undertaking visionary quality-of-life programs. The Chamber SWLA tackles workforce issues by working with SOWELA Technical Community College, McNeese State University, and other area schools to match the needs of our regional business community with the training programs being offered.

The Chamber SWLA works for you in the halls at the State Capitol, in Washington, D.C., and locally. They are part of several national and international movements to make it easier for you to do business here in our region. They also track down and meet with developers and industry leaders nationally and internationally, to share all the things that make Southwest Louisiana great and why they should open their next venture here.

Other perks of membership:

Knowledge – The Chamber SWLA staff keeps up-to-date on industry trends, legislative issues, and national programs that can benefit their members, so they strive to share this information through bi-weekly e-newsletters, newspaper articles, and luncheons.

Credibility – Even if they don’t realize it consciously, when your customers see that you are a member of the Chamber SWLA, they know that you are a reputable part of our community. “When customers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.” (Shapiro Report, 2012)

Networking – The Chamber SWLA provides many opportunities to make one-on-one connections with regional business leaders. It’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you.

Learning Opportunities – Being successful in business requires staying current on trends, technology, and other issues that might affect your business. The Chamber SWLA hosts many online and in person training opportunities to provide the information businesses need to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

With the support of Chamber members – and future members – The Chamber SWLA will continue to lead the nation in new jobs, business opportunities and unprecedented growth!

For information, contact Paula Ramsey at or (337) 433-3632.

18 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Money & Career
Economic Update – chamber swla

Business Pitch 2024

If you have an idea and are ready to put pen to paper, now is the time to enter the 2024 Business Pitch Contest which will be held May 2, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. at The SEED Center. This event is hosted by the Business Incubator of Southwest Louisiana.

The deadline to submit your application is April 1, 2024. If you need more space for your answers, you can email them to, but submissions can be no more than 10 pages in length (12 point font; double spaced).

Business plans will be reviewed and competitors will be selected based on the strength of their business plan. If you or your team is selected, you will be invited to give your 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges at the competition.

First Place: $5,000

Second Place: $3,000

Third Place: $1,500

• There is no fee to enter. Pitches can be made by an individual or a team of no more than 4 people.

• One submission per person/team.

• If you are working with a team, only one person can answer questions from the panel of judges.

• All submissions must be for ideas that will be implemented within the five-parish region of Southwest Louisiana (Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis).

• Event participation is limited to people who live/work within the five-parish region.

• Entries may not have won a top prize in previous Alliance/Chamber SWLA Business Pitch competitions.

• Applicants must receive an outstanding score to win, and the decisions of the judges are final.

If you have any questions, contact Eric Cormier at 337-433-0799. To apply for this year’s Business Pitch, visit 19
Economic Update – business pitch 2024
Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District boasts a superior mid-Gulf Coast location for companies in the maritime industry.
Cameron Parish Port offers ideal positioning at the mouth of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, with access to both shallow-water and deep-water connectivity to inland and global markets. Anchor here at The Cameron Parish Port. Kim Montie - Port Director • Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District • 337-775-5206 or Anchor here PHOTOS: CHENIERE LNG




Each year, Southwest Louisiana draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the state, nation and internationally. Travel and tourism activities across the state in 2022 generated $1.9 billion total state and local tax revenue, saving each household $1,068 in taxes.

Although visitor expenditures in Calcasieu Parish were slightly lower in 2022 at $634 million compared to 2021’s $682 million, there was still good news – more jobs. Southwest Louisiana saw a four percent increase in tourism/hospitality jobs, showing our community’s economic strength.


Throughout the year, Visit Lake Charles plays a crucial role in promoting Southwest Louisiana’s businesses to potential visitors by hosting travel writers and meeting with planners and travel/tour operators.

Journalists create compelling stories on various platforms, attracting potential leisure travelers through television, print, digital and social media.

Meeting planners explore the region, familiarizing themselves with Southwest Louisiana’s facilities, including hotels, meeting spaces and sporting venues like McNeese State University’s Legacy Center and Lake Charles Event Center. When planners decide to host a meeting or sporting event in our community, the event draws new visitors to the area, allowing them to experience our food, shopping and culture, leading to increased visitor spending.


These visits lead to the development and happenings of sporting events, conventions and festivals, each uniquely shaping the region’s economy. Consider, for example, the Louisiana Rural Water Association’s Annual Conference that has called Lake Charles home since 2013 for its annual event – excluding 2020 and 2021 due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and post-Hurricane Laura damage to the venue. This five-day event made a substantial impact this

past summer, generating 1,250 room nights. The economic significance of this conference extended far beyond the venue, with a total economic impact of $1,523,518 and support for 372 jobs.

Last fall, the inaugural Louisiana Food & Wine Festival attracted 3,000 attendees, a significant number of first-time visitors from 14 states and international locations such as Canada, London and Prince Edward Island.

A couple from Chicago not only attended the festival for the weekend but also ventured out to explore the local area and businesses. This led to the couple spending additional money at golf courses, including the National Golf Club of Louisiana, and dining at restaurants such as 1910, The Bekery and The Max in Westlake.

The festival also provided an opportunity to give back to the community, with donations totaling $12,000 for The United Way of Southwest Louisiana, the event’s charity partner. In collaboration with Chef John Currence, the festival also contributed $7,500 to fund student scholarships at SOWELA Technical Community College.

In December, the US Sports Congress hosted its annual event in Lake Charles at the L’Auberge Casino Resort. The three-day event had a total economic impact of $408,130, supported 94 jobs and contributed to 300 overnight stays.

These tourism-led efforts not only boost the region’s economy but support countless businesses across Southwest Louisiana, proving that tourism is a valuable asset for the sustainability of the community.

20 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Money & Career tourism Economic Update – tourism
story by Candy Rodriguez photos by Kathryn Shea Duncan 21 Sponsored by

Ports Put SWLA on the Map for Cargo and Energy Services



The Port of Lake Charles is a global shipping choice with a powerful local economic impact. Founded in 1926, it is as important now as the day it opened. Southwest Louisiana is the global leader in the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the nation’s top location to export LNG is the growing complex on and around the Ship Channel and port district property. Coupled with its longtime service to area petrochemical industries, plus future opportunities for wind power, the Port pairs with Calcasieu Ship Channel to form what is called “America’s Energy Corridor.”

Lumber and dry cement have emerged as growth cargo for the Port. Lake Charles was largely founded as a sawmill town, looking to move out lumber. Today, the equation has flipped — lumber is now a major imported cargo, and the growth has been exponential. Four years ago, the Port handled 12,000 cubic meters of lumber. The volume had multiplied to 10 times that amount within two years. It continues to grow. Last year, the largest lumber ship ever to arrive at the Port was welcomed. Dry cement is also now a growing part of the Port’s cargo mix.

In November 2024, the Port of Lake Charles marks its 98th anniversary. During this year, the Port will offer its first full year of resumed cargo service at Berths 2 and 3 at City Docks. A major berthrehabilitation project added strength and capacity at City Docks to handle more, and heavier, cargo. The Port will continue to offer expanded capacity in key areas as it recovers from the unprecedented storm damage caused by hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, as well as fine-tune its ongoing five-year plan for billions of dollars in planned projects.

Find more information about the Port and its impact on social media platforms and at

other ports in swla

The Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District plays an integral role in commercial fisheries and in the shallow-draft manufacturing and oilfield service industry. With convenient access to multiple ports and the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Cameron Parish is uniquely positioned to provide product transport for industrial companies of all sizes, to anywhere in the world. It is also quickly earning the reputation as the LNG capital of the world. The district covers all waterways of Cameron Parish, including the Calcasieu Ship Channel, Sabine River, Mermentau River, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Their services cover general offshore support facilities, vessel docking, sweet and sour crude (determined by sulfur content), and of course, liquified natural gas (LNG).

The Port of Vinton is a developing shallow water port on the Vinton Navigation Channel, which connects more than 600 acres of developable, industrial-zoned port property to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Current tenants provide concrete products used in foundations of various building projects. Site and canal improvements are underway to make more land available to shallow-water access. Import products include aggregate, portland cement concrete, and steel reinforcement They export precast concrete products.

Tenants of West Calcasieu Port provide services to shallow water maritime transportation operating from Texas to Florida on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway or Calcasieu Ship Channel, without exposure to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. More than 150 barges are fleeted daily at the port. Other marine services include wet barge cleaning and stripping operations, dry barge cleaning, stripping and repair services construction equipment storage, and diesel engine repair. The port is home to the only public entity barge loading ramp capable of supporting an 80,000-pound, 18-wheel truck load driving onto a pre-positioned deck barge. Construction is nearing completion on a new 600-linear-foot bulkhead complete with a heavy-duty crane pad.

The Mermentau River Port is a lifeline to shipyards and oil refineries along the Mermentau River. The Mermentau flows south into Lake Arthur and connects with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico. Imports include aggregate, fertilizer, and rough rice. They export soybeans, rice, and rice hull compost.

Source: SWLA Economic Development Alliance

22 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Money & Career Economic Update – ports Sponsored by 23 607 N. Thomson Ave., Iowa | Imperial Health is pleased to welcome Charlotte Ardoin, FNP-C, to our Iowa Primary Care Clinic. Charlotte and her staff offer experienced, convenient access to healthcare services in the Iowa area, including:
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Here in Southwest Louisiana, we love to eat! Food is a passion and an integral part of our unique culture . . . and always a reason to celebrate! This annual Foodie’s Guide is dedicated to our enthusiasm for all things culinary, from local eateries to events that highlight our legendary cuisine. Read on and discover several new and exciting establishments on the restaurant scene, where to find the hottest global fusion flavors, and a spotlight on S&B Events – the charitable organization that brings us Smoke & Barrel and Rum Revival!

Crepes, Kabobs, Cookies, and a Cantina



Crepe Escape

Crepe Escape brought a bit of the big city to Lake Charles. Owner Amanda Abbasi decided to introduce sweet and savory crepes, boba and bubble waffles to town after traveling to Houston to indulge in these treats. Abbasi says bringing these treats to Lake Charles offers “more variety to people” in SWLA. In addition, Crepe Escape stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Lake Charles lacks restaurants and cafés that stay open late for weekend fun, so Crepe Escape has seen the “younger generation” coming to the restaurant to hang out with friends. Crepe Escape has also become a meeting place for family gatherings.

French Market Donuts

The newly opened French Market Donuts is essentially a rebrand of the former Donut King. Desiree Mullins says the bakery, which serves donuts and kolaches, is run by the “same family, different generation.” The new team consists of Mullins, and David and Davíd Veiloon (father and son duo). The recipes the trio are using are “the same recipes my dad learned from his dad in the ‘50s,” Mullins says, so expect the same delicious goodness experienced at Donut King.

Nawal’s Kebab House and Grill

Easy Balbeisi is the chef at Nawal’s Kebab House and Grill. Balbeisi says the restaurant is named after his mother, and he “hopes to introduce [as many] people in Lake Charles to Mediterranean and Lebanese food” as he can. “The percentage of people who eat Mediterranean food has increased” since 2020, Balbeisi says. The current food scene is now “way more like Lafayette.” Business is doing so well that Balbeisi says a second location is already in the works for the Sulphur community. Ultimately, Balbeisi is passionate about bringing Mediterranean cuisine to SWLA not only because of its taste, but also because Mediterranean food is “very healthy.”

Lighthouse Bend

Lighthouse Bend is part restaurant, part market, part marina and part RV park. The facility was built and is being staffed by Venture Global as a place for “the community to meet and shop,” according to Chuck Pugh, one of the managers on-site. One of the goals of Lighthouse Bend is to source “as much seafood locally as possible,” which will be a welcome outlet for local fishermen. Pugh says the restaurant is an upper end restaurant but not so formal as to lose those friendly Cameron Parish vibes. The menu includes some Cajun recipes, which utilize local seafood, and more standard fair, such as steak, chicken wings, burgers and sandwiches.

Blue Iguana Taco Bar and Cantina

Blue Iguana is a new restaurant with a “specialty taco bar,” according to Mayra Desormeaux. The restaurant, housed in the old Hong Kong building, was completely repainted in a blue paint that references the “blue” in Blue Iguana. Desormeaux says Blue Iguana is an “upscale type of Mexican restaurant.” SWLA has many Mexican restaurants, but most are smaller and not as elaborately decorated as Blue Iguana. The Hong Kong building was chosen for the restaurant because “structure-wise, it is more attractive,” says Desormeaux. The new restaurant has plenty of other foods besides tacos and several margarita flavors.

Goldband Diner & Bar

Goldband Diner & Bar is located next door to Panorama Music House. The eatery is named after the late Goldband Records in Lake Charles. While you have a drink and a bite to eat, you can take advantage of the pool and foosball tables. Goldband Diner hosts comedy and jazz nights, along with other events in tandem with Panorama Music House. The diner offers standard American fare, such as pizza, burgers and sandwiches.

New Cookie Outlets

SWLA loves cookies, and with the addition of both Crave Cookies and Crumbl Cookies, the community has plenty of options to choose from. Crave Cookies is run by Tommy Johns and Cheyenne Boudreaux. Johns says they are “very blessed to be part of this community and to have the support of the community.” Crave has a new cookie menu out every Friday. The exciting part is that on Fridays and Saturdays, customers have access to both the previous week’s menu and the new menu, until sold out. All total, customers have access to 12 different cookie flavors to start their weekend. Crumbl Cookies opened last year and had “the largest grand opening in Crumbl history,” says Hailey Lockhard, co-general manager. Lockhard realizes that “part of the culture of Louisiana is food and eating” and that was evident when the location had lines of people out of the doors for weeks. Crumbl has six cookie flavors a week that return on a rotating basis. 25


S&B Events goes live with VIP tickets for their next great event that gives back – Rum Revival. This spring celebration of rum, tequila, and Caribbean cuisine will take place at Golden Nugget Lake Charles on April 6, 2024, 5:00-9:00 p.m.

The events in S&B’s annual line-up are comprised of three main components – fine spirits, great cuisine, and unique entertainment. Attendees will have endless access to over 70 different rum and tequila labels as well as tropical cocktails for sampling. Eight local restaurants (Area 337, Crying Eagle Brewing, The James 710, Lulu’s, Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, The Charthouse, Draft Kings, and Landry’s Seafood) will prepare Caribbean inspired cuisine for tasting. Live entertainment by Bonerama, a brass, funk band from New Orleans will tie this culturally rich experience together. Tropical attire for attendees is encouraged.

The three-day event begins Thursday, April 4 and ends with a designated after-party Saturday night. The grand tasting is a four-hour event Saturday, but Rum Revival weekend is an extended weekend experience! Along with the grand tasting, there are two cocktail pairing dinners that lead up to Saturday’s festivities. These seated, multi-course dinners are Caribbean themed and feature a spirit chosen by this year’s spirits sponsors. Each course and paired cocktail are built around the chosen label’s flavor, nodes, and aroma, and truly show the art and complexity of fine spirits. The weekend line-up allows local chefs to experiment with mouthwatering culinary creations and showcase their talents for current and new engaged audiences.

Each great event produced by S&B Events helps this nonprofit organization fulfill its mission by raising funds for its charitable beneficiary, United Way of Southwest Louisiana. President and CEO of UWSWLA, Denise Durel, thanks the cofounders of S&B for their “creative and innovative way of raising funds that support our community.” Their two annual events, Smoke & Barrel in the fall and Rum Revival in the spring, provide full scholarships for children under age six to attend day school through a program called “Success by 6”.

VIP tickets for Rum Revival will be available until they are soldout. Tickets give attendees all-inclusive access to fine spirits, great cuisine, and a front row seat to lively entertainment. Along with hosting the event, Friday night’s dinner, and the After Party,

Golden Nugget Lake Charles is also offering room discounts for all ticket holders during the Rum Revival weekend.

Visit to purchase VIP tickets.

Smoke & Barrel Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit company whose mission is to produce quality entertainment for the en¬richment of the community while raising funding for worthy charities. Put more simply: “We produce great events that give back!”

26 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Wining & Dining | SWLA FOODIES GUIDE
R • E • V • I • V • A •

Smoke and Barrel Events Rebrand


Smoke & Barrel Inc starts the 2024 year with a re-brand to continue growing with their overall mission as a nonprofit 501c3. The company prides itself in producing quality entertainment that supports travel, tourism, arts, and local charitable causes. The new “S&B Events” logo reflects the company’s growth from being notable for the Smoke & Barrel premium culinary and tasting event into a year-round initiative of producing great events that give back to those in need.

Founded by best friends, Adam Fontenot and Nathaniel Allured, the annual Smoke & Barrel event began with experience and passion for bourbon, BBQ, and whiskey coupled with a desire to invest in their community and its future. Launched in 2018, the event draws nearly 2000 people from all over Louisiana and Texas to Lake Charles for a premium food and beverage tasting event. As the non-profit company continues to grow with each year, their ability to make a difference has also increased with a new initiative through their primary beneficiaries, United Way of SWLA.

The program “Success by 6” provides day school scholarships for children under the age of six, which better prepares them for success throughout childhood and into adulthood. “We believe the success of a community begins with its youth and ensuring they are prepared rather than behind is a priority” says Allured. Research shows that educational development is crucial in the first few years and kids who start behind will stay behind. As S&B Events works to raise funding for these day school scholarships, they fuel educational achievement and economic productivity of the next generation.

The non-profit company continues to expand their impact on entertainment, tourism, and charitable fundraising activities through Southwest Louisiana with the production of quality experiences which include three major elements: fine spirits, excellent cuisine, and world class entertainment. As executive director, Allured has an extensive background in the spirits and distribution world. Fontenot, creative director, was heavily involved in the entertainment and food industry, especially in Southeast Texas. To support the continued growth of the company, the

pair has welcomed Saige Mestayer to the team as marketing and campaign director. She brings professional experience in PR and marketing with a focus on the food, beverage, and entertainment industries. There are currently two events in S&B Events’ annual lineup. Smoke & Barrel, the event, welcomes the cool breeze of late fall, and Rum Revival kicks off the warmth of spring.

Learn more about Smoke & Barrel Events’ mission by visiting 27 SERVING UP FINGER-LICKING FOOD FOR THREE DECADES (337) 474-3651 | Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm & SPORTS BAR DARRELL’S TO-GO NEW DELIVERY AVAILABLE THROUGH

Fusion Flavors from

Around the Globe


Desi Fusion – Indian Cuisine, Halal Food

4313 Common Street (337) 419-1845

Sure, you can dine on traditional Indian Butter Chicken, Garlic Naan, and Veggie Samosas at this unique eatery, but the real magic is found deeper in the menu where cultures collide. Instead of a familiar burger, try the Chicken Seekh or Beef Chappli Smash Burger. The proteins are infused with herbs and spices more commonly found in Pakistani or Indian food. A traditional pepperoni pizza is always delicious, but at Desi Fusion, try the Tandoori Chicken or Tandoori Shrimp Pie instead. Flavors like chili, turmeric, Dahi (yogurt), and masala come together with cheese and dough for a one-of-a-kind pizza experience.

Area 337 – Latin American

2500 Kirkman Street, (337) 488-8464

Area 337 is an authentic, family-owned restaurant that has amassed a loyal following in Lake Charles. Owner Gus Garden was born and raised in the Dominican Republic but honed his cooking skills in Puerto Rico and Miami. His kitchen staff hails from multiple cultures and the flavors show up on the menu. You’ll find traditional pork chops but served with mofongo and fried plantains, island style. Pork roast is a popular Southwest Louisiana dish, but here it’s baked 5-6 hours and served with the Latin standard rice and beans alongside sweet plantains or stuffed inside sweet bread with ham and Swiss cheese for a Cubano that tastes like it came straight from Little Havana in Miami. There’s fish but seasoned and prepared Dominican style, fried whole. Familiar fried chicken becomes even more delicious when fried without flour in Honduran spices for a delightful blend of flavor and texture. Every plate showcases a vibrant mix of Latin heritage from a variety of countries.

28 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Wining & Dining | SWLA FOODIES GUIDE

End your meal with Café con Leche (Cuban coffee) and Vanilla Flan (custard) for a true taste of Latin culture.

Thai Lake Charles – Thai

806 East Prien Lake Road, (337) 240-8204

Billed as a Thai restaurant, it’s telling that the most ordered dishes at Thai Lake Charles represent multiple Asian cultures. There’s Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, plus Fresh Spring Rolls. You’ll also find Chinese-inspired Egg Rolls next to Thai Egg Rolls on the menu. Pad Thai is a standout dish of course, prepared with rice noodles and stir fried with eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and usually chicken or shrimp. For spicy lovers, there’s Gang Dang, a Thai curry featuring an aromatic blend of red chili peppers and lemongrass simmered with coconut milk. Start your meal with chicken wings but with a twist, seasoned with lemongrass and other Asian flavors. When ordering be sure to specify your spice level, so the food is as hot (or not) as you like it!

Orinoco – Columbian, Venezuelan, Mexican 4723 Common Street, (337) 244-7120

This family business started as a popular food truck and expanded to a brick-and-mortar restaurant just south of McNeese’s stadium. The owners (two sisters) call it Caribbean Gastronomy – a mashup of Colombian and Venezuelan flavors (Orinoco is the name of the river that runs through both countries) mixed with popular Mexican street tacos and quesadillas. The authentic Empanadas may be the star of the show though. These ‘little pockets of goodness’ are prized comfort food in Venezuela, stuffed with a variety of seasoned meats, veggies, and cheeses. Customers also rave about Cachapas, thick sweet corn tortillas stuffed with artisan

cheese, and Arepas made from ground maize dough and filled to bursting with meats, cheeses, and veggies. There’s a robust menu of entrees – try the Pabellon, Bandeja paisa, or the popular Latin Burger. The establishment’s interior is an ode to Latin fusion with brightly colored walls and global art murals, but it’s the unique fusion of Latin flavors that will have you coming back for more!

Asia bbQ – BBQ, Asian, Noodle Bowls

1221 North Martin Luther King Highway, (337) 564-1878

With ‘bbQ’ in its name, it’s no surprise that top sellers at this unique eatery are more traditional grilled meats and seafood beloved by Americans. The preparation is where the fusion comes in. Seasoned beef, pork, and chicken are cooked and served on skewers just like in outdoor Asian markets around the world (try BBQ Pineapple or Fish Balls too). On the snack menu you’ll find Gyoza (Asian dumplings served steamed or fried), and Fried Calamari or Fried Shrimp Tempura. Asia Bowls come with your choice of protein served in a bowl bursting with noodles and your choice of sauce (Teriyaki, Sweet Chili and more). Customers also rave about the Mega Chicken Wings served with French fries. Lovers of Milk Tea will find a full flavor menu including Thai Tea, Mango, Taro, and more. There’s something for every tastebud at this eclectic restaurant.

Louisiana Food & Wine Festival Wins Festival of the Year

The Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) introduced the Louisiana Food & Wine Festival as the Festival/Event of the Year winner for 2023 during its Annual Meeting in New Orleans earlier this year. Visit Lake Charles nominated the festival for the award.

Each year, LTA presents the Louey Awards to honor and showcase individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the Louisiana tourism industry.

The inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival, hosted by Visit Lake Charles, magnificently blends Louisiana’s culinary heritage with the vibrant Southern spirit. From Sept. 14 to Sept. 17, 2023, across Southwest Louisiana, the festival featured signature events such as Louisiana’s Celebrity Chefs Wine Dinner, Louisiana-inspired Master Classes, Fire on the Lake, Grand Tasting and Sunday Jazz Brunch.

“This award reflects the passion and dedication of our community in showcasing Southwest Louisiana’s rich culinary heritage,” said Kyle Edmiston, president and CEO of Visit Lake Charles. “The festival’s success is reflective of the collaborative spirit that defines our region, and we are honored to have played a role in its inaugural year.”

Attracting over 3,000 attendees from 14 states, Canada and Prince Edward Island, the event was lauded for its exceptional value and benefit to the local economy.

Beyond its economic benefits, the festival fostered partnerships and collaborations that exemplified the strength of community engagement. For example, SOWELA Technical Community College

Culinary Arts students had the unique opportunity to collaborate with culinary stars, such as Tiffany Derry and Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, turning their aspirations into reality. The festival also donated $7,500 to SOWELA and $10,000 to United Way of Southwest Louisiana.

“The Louisiana Food & Wine Festival was created to showcase the entire state of Louisiana, from its unique culture and beauty to its renowned cuisine,” said Jan Gourley, festival founder/director and partner with The AdFish Group. “The festival celebrated Louisiana’s spirit through showcasing music, food and drink, with local and celebrity guest chefs and beverage experts. We are honored to receive this special recognition and to have produced this worldclass event in partnership with Visit Lake Charles,” 29

Places & Faces


With over 400 festivals taking place each year, Louisiana is known as the Festival Capital of America, and Southwest Louisiana does its part in contributing to that designation. In the season of spring alone, you’ll find at least a dozen reasons to celebrate everything that makes our region so special –music, food, culture!

30 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024

Let’s Celebrate! SWLA Spring Festival Season 2024

Black Heritage Festival

March 7-10

Lake Charles Event Center

This four-day event honors the heritage of SWLA’s vibrant Black community. Senior Citizen Bingo takes place at the MLK Center on Mar. 7. Saturday, Mar. 9 marks Black Heritage Day and will be celebrated at the Lake Charles Event Center with music, dance, food and merchandise vendors, empowerment sessions, a health fair, kids’ zone and a Black Pot Cook-Off. On Sunday, Mar. 10, experience a Gospel Extravaganza at Word of Hope Family Worship Center, 6:00 p.m.

SWLA Yoga Fest

March 22, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Drew Park, Lake Charles

Experience a day of several types of yoga, meditation, breathwork and sound immersion led by local yogis. Food and merchandise vendors also onsite.

SWLA Garden Conference & Expo

Admission $3 March 22-23, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Burton Coliseum

This festival showcases local non-profit horticultural clubs, Master Gardeners, 4-H members and over 60 vendors selling vegetable plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, soil enhancers, plant containers, lawn and garden ornaments, outdoor furniture and decorating items.

Iowa Rabbit Festival

March 14-16

Burton Coliseum

March 14 - Family Night. No gate admission. (Carnival ONLY).

March 15 - Carnival and musical entertainment inside the Coliseum. Admission $10, Kids 12 & under free.

March 16 - Rabbit Cook Off, Carnival, Rabbit Show, and entertainment inside Burton Coliseum. Admission $15, Kids 12 & under free.

The Iowa Rabbit Festival attracts over 20,000 people throughout the festival weekend and is considered one of the top 20 events in the Southeastern United States. The festival features a rabbit show, vendor booths, carnival, rides a pageant, and plenty of live entertainment by local, regional, and national artists. The Rabbit Cook-Off features all types of rabbit cuisine and the popular People’s Choice Award where spectators can taste a variety of rabbit dishes. 31

Places & Faces | Spring Festival

Live @ the Lakefront Concert Series

Fridays, March 22, 29, April 5, 5:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Arcade Amphitheatre 900 Lakeshore Dr.

This annual popular concert series is hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA and features local bands, art market, and food trucks, all overlooking the beautiful lake. Set up your lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for some great entertainment! Band lineup TBA.

Louisiana Railroad Days Festival

April 11-13

Dequincy, La.

DeQuincy celebrates its railroading heritage with a fun-filled four-day festival. See their website for a full schedule of events.

This is Home Fest

April 20

Lake Charles Event Center

This is Home Fest celebrates Southwest Louisiana culture through eclectic music and art. Concert-goers can visit two different stages – one featuring zydeco music and the other a lineup of popular funk/jazz groups. For a full list of artists, see their website.

Spring Art Walk

April 27, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Downtown Lake Charles

The Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA hosts Art Walk each spring. This event features area artists in pop-up galleries, art activities and demonstrations, adult and student Art War competitions, food truck and booths, live performances, and an impressive Outdoor Art Market with vendors offering a wide variety of items.

Louisiana Pirate Festival

May 3-12

Lake Charles Civic Center

Ahoy maties! The Louisiana Pirate Festival sails up to the seawall beginning May 3, when the pirates attack with cannon fire, invade the city, and Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter walks the plank. Enjoy carnival rides, Pirate Parades, entertainment for all ages, fireworks, beach games and competitions, and Louisiana cuisine in the Galley Alley. Louisiana Pirate Festival, formerly Contraband Days, has been commemorating legendary pirate Jean Lafitte and his gang since 1957.

Downtown at Sundown Concert Series

Fridays – May 24, May 31, June 7, June 14, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Downtown Lake Charles

Hosted by the City of Lake Charles, the everpopular Downtown at Sundown takes place on Ryan Street between Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center and the Parish Courthouse. While music is the primary draw, you’ll also find tabletop art galleries, activities for children, and food booths for downtown restaurants. Each concert features a different local or regional artist performing favorite music genres, including swamp pop, Cajun, zydeco, and classic rock. Stay tuned for this year’s lineup!

More fun just over the border!

2024 Spring Fairs and Festivals in SETX


Southeast Texas in springtime is a vibrant hub of culture and celebration with numerous annual events and festivals. Experience the unique blend of Cajun zest and Texas spirit in festivals that promise unforgettable memories.

Beaumont Mural Festival

March 2-3

The Event Centre in Downtown 700 Crockett St, Beaumont, Tx.

This event turns Beaumont into a living canvas, with live mural painting, entertainment, community art collaborations, vendors and more! Muralists from across the country and the world paint murals throughout downtown Beaumont and the region to expand the public arts scene. Experience a colorful fusion of creativity and culture as Beaumont transforms into a canvas of imagination.

32 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
on page

Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm 337-491-9147

1001 Ryan St., Lake Charles, LA 70601 33 MASTERFUL ARTS & CULTURE carefully curated — just for you!

Places & Faces

2024 Spring Fairs and Festivals in SETX

SOAR Family Day

March 3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

McFaddin-Ward House 1906 McFaddin Ave. Beaumont, Tx.

Held at the historical McFaddin-Ward House, SOAR Family Day offers live music, food trucks, picnicking on the grounds, family activities, garden and butterfly crafts, a garden of painted butterflies by local artists, butterfly ride-on bikes, the Houston Museum of Natural Science Bug Cart, booths from the Sabine-Neches Master Naturalists and Tyrrell Park Nature center, and more!

YMBL South Texas State Fair & Rodeo

March 21-31

Ford Park Fair Grounds 7250 Wespark Beaumont, Tx.

Step into your cowboy boots and come to the Texas-sized rodeo with a bit of Louisiana flair. Hosted by the Young Men’s Business League (YMBL), you’ll enjoy thrilling events like bull riding and mutton bustin’, along with a fun kids' zone, livestock shows, and a variety of local food and craft vendors. This event also features an expansive local art, quilt and photo show.

Neches River Festival

April 12-13

Downtown Beaumont

Celebrating its 76th year, the Neches River festival pays homage to the Neches River that surrounds Beaumont and serves as a key access point to the city’s port. This festival centers around the river and riverfront activities, fireworks displays, water carnivals, ski and boat shows and regattas. The festival also includes a variety of events and exhibitions during “Festival Week”: a city-wide parade, bridge tournament, art show/ competition and flower show, to name a few.

Eco-Fest and Butterfly Release

April 20

Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center 2111 W. Park Avenue, Orange, Tx. eco-fest-and-butterfly-release

Celebrate Earth Day with this unique and down-to-earth festival at Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center in Orange, Texas. This celebration focuses on natural history while highlighting sustainability, offering strolls through the garden and engaging presentations throughout the day. Family friendly activities and games will take place on Saturday, April 20, 10:00 a.m. -3:30 p.m. with multiple inspirational Butterfly Releases at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.

409 Day

April 27, 2024

Tyrrell Park

3930 Babe Zaharias Drive Beaumont, Tx.

Hosted by the nonprofit 409Family, this Southeast Texas cultural festival at Beaumont's Tyrrell Park offers a day packed with free family activities. Highlights include a kids' inflatable zone, arts and crafts, nature walks at Cattail Marsh, live performances, local vendors, and a variety of food trucks. It's a fun and free way to celebrate the region's heritage and community spirit.

34 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
| Spring Festival Planner

St. Michael Mediterranean Festival

May 4

690 N. 15th Street Beaumont, TX

Bring your appetite to enjoy the annual St. Michael’s Mediterranean Festival in Beaumont. Since 2009, this festival celebrates Middle Eastern & Hellenic culture, with an emphasis on the finest Greek & Middle Eastern foods and pastries. This free festival includes church tours, a shopping bazaar, dance performances, live music and children’s activities.

The Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau offers exclusive hotel packages tailored for festival-goers. Plan your adventure at and the Beaumont CVB can help turn your festival journey into an extraordinary experience.


Steel Magnolias

directed by joy pace on stage at southlake theater

friday & saturday evenings

April 26 – 27 at 7:30pm

saturday & sunday matinees

April 27 – 28 at 2:00pm


general adm $25 seniors 60+ $20 students 60+ $15 tickets on sale

That sanctuary looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol.—M’LYNN

My colors are blush and bashful.—SHELBY It takes some effort to look like this.—TRUVY I’m not crazy...I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years.—OUISER

You know I love you more than my luggage.—CLAIREE Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.—ANNELLE 35

COOL JOBS: Cameron Fultz A Backstage View of Festival Planning

From celebrating various industries to honoring the simple joy of living in Sportsman’s Paradise, nearly every weekend presents the opportunity to taste from every pot and dance the night away at a fair or festival. Before the first note is played or pot stirred, months of planning are put into play, often by a team of volunteers led by a fearless, energetic leader.

Sulphur native Cameron Fultz is the force behind events such as Live @ the Lakefront, Spring/Holiday Art Walks, Gallery Promenade, Chuck Fest and the Living History Cemetery Tour, all falling under the umbrella of the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana.

Landing at the Arts Council happened somewhat by chance for Fultz. “I started my college journey at McNeese in 2017, pursuing a degree in Music Education,” explains Fultz. “After COVID and the hurricanes of 2020, I found it difficult to get myself motivated for online and hybrid classes. I decided to put a pause on my degree and try my hand at entering the workforce.”

Fultz applied for the Project Coordinator position at the Arts Council, was hired, and fell in love. He’s been with the nonprofit ever since, serving a brief stint as the Interim Executive Director, returning to his post as Project Coordinator, and then recently officially being named Executive Director.

Fultz says the planning takes months and includes many fine details. “People can guess the obvious tasks like booking the space, securing permits and developing the marketing efforts. I always have fun working with the bands and agents to book performers, coordinating dates and resources, and contacting food trucks and other vendors.”

It requires weeks and months of communication with others to coordinate and create the best event possible. “Something that took me time to understand and appreciate is how important building relationships with vendors and volunteers is. Without them, you have no event, and they don’t just show up,” Fultz adds.

Being a festival coordinator has always required advanced planning, including fundraising, but recent years have brought on some new challenges. “One of the more difficult things we’ve had to deal with is inflation and its side effects,” Fultz explains. “We are extremely grateful for all the wonderful sponsors and donors we receive funds from, but a $25,000 music festival in 2019 looks a lot different than a $25,000 music festival in 2024.”

Fultz says potential donors are in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to finances, making it very difficult to recruit new resources. “We are looking into alternatives in fundraising methods. This year is going to be a soft reset on how we earn money to upkeep these events and build for the future.”

Challenges aside, Fultz says that rewards received go beyond the dollars and cents. “At larger events I might not remember names or faces, but I do remember emotions, reactions and expressions. A family bringing their child

to their first outdoor music experience, meeting outof-towners and all of the little Kodak moments in between stay with me long after the stages are broken down.”

The Council is currently planning Live @ the Lakefront, which kicks off on Friday, March 22. The free music festival held at the Lake Charles Event Center Amphitheatre runs three Fridays, with the other concerts taking place on March 29, and April 5. Spring Art Walk is scheduled for April 27.

According to Fultz, the purpose behind bringing festivals to the community may differ between organizers, but everyone he’s ever met, at least in the nonprofit sector, simply wants to give the community something to enjoy. “We love seeing the smiling faces, social media posts and the impact these events have on our culture. These events are the ultimate answer to the phrase, ‘there’s never anything to do around here.’ Get out and explore what Southwest Louisiana has to offer!”

36 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Places & Faces | Spring Festival Planner
Visit to learn more.
Cameron Fultz 37
Magazine for Better Living • Places

Lake Area Ballet Theatre (LABT) presents Alice in Wonderland, a full-length, familyfriendly ballet that brings the wonderful world of Alice, the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and the Red Queen to life. The production features enchanting choreography by Jill Eathorne Bahr and fantastical costumes by Chicagobased costume designer Travis Halsey inspired by the surrealism of Cirque du Soleil. Bahr and Halsey have spent hours corresponding on the designs for the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, March Hare, and the Caterpillar along with an entire deck of cards portrayed by the students of LABT. Little touches, like Alice and the White Rabbit hosting the wild tea party, complete with oversized teacups and pots — create an entertaining alternate reality. Enjoy the whimsical characters with music by French composers Poulenc, Milhaud, Pierne, and Debussy. Public performances on Friday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 23, 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Rosa Hart Theatre at the Lake Charles Event Center. Tickets $25 and available at or by calling the box office at 337-491-1432.


Taking place on the S.S. American, Reno teams up with Moonface Martin, public enemy #13, to help her friend Billy win the heart of debutante Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to someone else!

April 26-May 5, ACTS will present No Time for Sergeants, based on the novel of the same name and later adapted as a teleplay and eventual movie starring Andy Griffith.

The Lake Charles Little Theatre stages the acclaimed jazz musical revue Ain’t Misbehavin’ — the Tony Award-winning celebration of the music of 1930s slide-piano songwriter Fats Waller — during the week of Juneteenth. The show features a diverse cast of local singers and musicians. Performances held at Southlake Theater Friday, June 21, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 22, 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, June 23, 2:00 p.m. Tickets available at and at the door.

Westlake High Theatre presents PHANTOM, based on the novel by French author Gaston Leroux. The story follows a disfigured eccentric genius who secretly coaches an aspiring opera singer and forces her to learn to sing majestically. The relationship turns tragic when the Phantom falls in love with her and kidnaps her to prevent her from being with her fiancé. The Broadway production was made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber and took its final bow after 13,981 performances closing in New York City on April 16, 2023.

Directed by Kerry A. Onxley, PHANTOM will be performed on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. at the Westlake High Theatre, 1000 Garden Drive Westlake, La. Tickets are $10.00 and can be

ACTS Theatre presents Anything Goes March 1, 2, and 3, and partners with Banners at McNeese for a special final performance at Bulber auditorium on March 8. Anything Goes is a musical featuring the compositions of Cole Porter and starring local performer Allison Schnake as Reno Sweeney.

40 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Places & Faces

purchased at the box office. For more information contact Onxley at (337) 217-4950 or

The Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) presents The Hobbit May 11 & 12. This enchanting adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale invites audiences to join a band of daring dwarves, a wacky wizard, and humble hobbit Bilbo Baggins on their quest to recover ancient treasure. This return to the world of fantasy will capture the hearts and imaginations of children and parents alike. Directed by Kerry A. Onxley, performances will be held at Westlake High Theatre. To purchase tickets ($15 each), contact the theatre at 337-433-7323 or visit online at

Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center offers three floors of ever-changing art exhibitions and experiences!

• Reclaimed Creations, by internationally known sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz, takes you on a journey with wildlife “in motion” created from discarded plastic objects. Mark your calendars for a reception, gallery talk, and artist Q & A with Ganz on Friday, March 15, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, March 16, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Ganz will lead a community art project using reclaimed materials. Both events are free, open to the public and family friendly. Through May 4.

Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, La will host Art Under the Oak beneath the majestic Sallier Oak on March 24, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. The festivities promise an array of activities, including Bunny Games with the Easter Bunny, a mini petting zoo by Almosta Ranch, and a vibrant pop-up market showcasing local arts, crafts, and delicious treats. Attendees can also explore the museum's rich history exhibits and enjoy complimentary admission. For more information, call 337-439-3797 or visit

The Stark Museum of Art in Orange, Tx. presents a quilt exhibition called Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West. The first of its kind, this exhibition explores the path of Black history in the West with a timeline of original pictorial quilts, beginning in 1528 with the arrival of Africans in the American West and continuing through the Civil Rights Movement. Dispelling the myth that Black people in the old West were mostly cowboys, Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West shows rich diversity in their occupations and achievements in society, religion, education, and the arts. On display March 2 – August 3.

• Louisiana Folk, Flora, and Fauna by New Orleans artist and gallery owner, Lance “Varg” Vargas, March 16 to May 18. Vargas creates abstract figures from architectural salvaged objects that take your senses to the Crescent City. Vargas’s artist talk and reception are planned for Thursday, April 4.

1001 Ryan Street. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Admission free. Historic City Hall is also home to the Black Heritage Gallery and Gallery by the Lake. For more information, please call 337-491-9147, email or visit Visit Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur and see their exhibit Curioddities: Myths & Legends. On display through March 21. (337) 527-0357, 41

Think world-class entertainment is too expensive or hard to find?

Think again!

Each March and April McNeese State University hosts the Banners Cultural Spring Season featuring live music, theatre, dance, lectures and film.

42 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Places & Faces Information and Ticketing at (337) 475-5997 • Membership $80 • Philanthropist Member (2 Ticket) $150 All-Access Membership (Rouge Et Blanc 2 Tickets Incl’d) $500 3/01/24 7:00 PM Broadway’s Next Hit Musical - Bulber Theatre 3/07/24 10AM & 7PM Ugly Duckling - Lightwire Family Show- Rosa Hart Theatre 3/08/24 7:30 PM Anything Goes - Musical Romantic Comedy - Bulber Theatre 3/10/24 7:00 PM Yesterday and Today: Beatles Experience - Bulber Theatre 3/14/24 7:00 PM Bob Cooper’s Untold Travel Stories - Discussion - Hardtner Hall - Stokes 3/20/24 2:00 PM Family Film: Title Pending - Bulber Theatre 3/21/24 6:00 PM Works on Paper - Annual Art Exhibit - Grand Gallery SFAA 3/23/24 7:00 PM Jimmy Carpenter Blues Band - Concert- Bulber Theatre 3/24/24 2:00 PM Finding our Way Back Home - Book signing - Historic City Hall 4/05/24 7:00 PM “Chasing Fire” War Documentary & Discussion - Hardtner Hall - Stokes 4/11/24 7:00 PM McLeod Lecture Series - Journalism Crisis - Hardtner Hall - Stokes 4/12/24 6:00 PM Family Film Night – UP (by Pixar) - Bulber Lawn 4/19/24 7:00 PM Accordion Kings - Concert - Bulber Theatre 4/25/24 7:00 PM Qwanqwa - Concert - Bulber Theatre 4/26/24 7:00 PM Trout Fishing in America - Concert - Bulber Theatre 2024
Banners at
Brings International Entertainment to SWLA
Tribute to The Beatles

Entry fees range from free to $20 and this year, due to the generous philanthropy of Reed Mendelson Jr, all area educators and education faculty and staff may attend free of charge. Also on the comp list are all McNeese and SOWELA students, local first responders, military, seniors over 80, and children under twelve. Banners 2024 showcases six live musical performances beginning with Broadway’s Next Hit Musical where audience members will give song suggestions that will ultimately inspire a completely improvised comedy musical. Beatles fans can also be part of the show on March 10th when they help create the playlist of Yesterday and Today with a free reception to follow.

Additional musical offerings this year include Jimmy Carpenter’s blues band on March 23, the Accordion Kings on April 19, and QWANQWA who will visit Lake Charles April 25 on their way to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Grammy Award winning duo Trout Fishing in America will close the 2024 season on April 26.

Stage fans will enjoy Lightwire Theater on March 8, with their electroluminescent wirelined rendition of the Ugly Duckling. The show boasts cutting-edge puppetry, technology and dance. Area schools and homeschoolers can attend a free show at 10:00 a.m. (Contact Brittany Menard at For classic musical theater lovers, enjoy ACT’s performance of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, with its flashy choreography and catchy tunes, on March 9.

Banners at McNeese also features film, engaging lectures, and fascinating cultural and humanities programming. The McNeese Visual Art Department’s 37th annual Works on Paper exhibition kicks off with a reception March 21 and runs through May 3.

Love literature and lectures? Professor and poet Bob Cooper will regale audiences with his Untold Travel Stories on March 14. Visit Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center March 24 and learn about the mysterious grave houses of Talbert-Pierson Cemetery and Dr. Keagan Lejeune’s book Finding Myself Lost in Louisiana. The 20th anniversary of the McLeod Lecture Series features Autumn Phillips, Editor and Chief of Charleston's Post and Courier. This presentation focuses on the importance of local investigative journalism. All lectures free to the public.

Three free films are scheduled this season. Bring the family to the Banners/CPPJ Movie Under the Stars for Pixar’s Up on the oak-lined lawn of Bulber auditorium. Free popcorn and cotton candy provided. Banners also joins forces with SLIC (the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center) to celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month with a weekday matinee on March 20. Finally, Justin Roberts returns with a screening of his powerful documentary Chasing Fire, a captivating look at war journalism.

Whether you are a film aficionado, a theatre buff, into stellar live music, or just looking for engaging lectures, there is something for everyone at Banners this season. Season memberships are affordable, and tickets can be gifted to friends for events you cannot attend. Or become a part of the Banners volunteer family and see your shows for free!

Visit for more information on events, sponsorship opportunities, and volunteer opportunities. 43 PRESENTING SPONSOR APRIL 13, 2024 PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE WWW.JLLC.NET BURTON COLISEUM

Just Imagine SWLA

A Vision for Natural & Cultural Resources

Bayou Greenbelt will connect blueways and greenways.

Southwest Louisiana’s spectacular natural resources are a unique draw. The Just Imagine SWLA 50-Year Resilience Master Plan envisions a region that fully celebrates and protects its natural and cultural resources.

Protecting and enhancing natural resources while improving access is vital for our area. The focus is on achieving these five goals to maximize the potential of these assets.

• Make the region’s natural beauty and outdoor activities more accessible and family friendly.

• Reduce coastal risk.

• Enhance and create dedicated spaces for gathering and cultural events.

• Expand SWLA’s network of parks, green spaces, and trails.

• Preserve natural areas and protect air and water quality.

Bayou Greenbelt

One way Just Imagine SWLA is working to meet the goals of this vision is through the Bayou Greenbelt. A project several years in the making, Bayou Greenbelt strives to establish a 23-mile loop consisting of an interconnected network of blue (water) and green (land) trails that will offer walking, hiking, biking, paddling and kayaking. The project seeks to connect the Kayouchee Coulee with the Contraband Bayou, deepening and widening parts of both waterways. Connecting these waterways would link the four major bodies of water around Lake Charles—the Calcasieu River, English Bayou, Contraband Bayou and Kayouche Coulee. This kind of access to our natural and cultural resources would result in generational change that would fundamentally transform the quality of life.

Study reviews the loop.

Today, work is underway to make the 23-mile loop a reality. In early February, Just Imagine SWLA, city and parish representatives, as well as stakeholders, gathered to discuss the latest findings from a hydraulic modeling study conducted by The Water Institute of the Gulf. Through a federal grant, the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program hired The Water Institute to model the Bayou Greenbelt. The meeting presented findings on potential impacts on drainage and salinity levels. The results emphasized the project’s strategic potential for improvement.

Developments along Bayou Greenbelt

LC Rebound is one effort that is helping to enhance our natural and cultural resources and improve our quality of life. Lake Charles voters approved LC Rebound last fall, which addresses eight of the 11 Just Imagine SWLA catalytic projects: Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation, Nellie Lutcher District, McNeese Area Resilience District, Chennault SOWELA Resilience District, Strong Downtowns, Community Resilience Hubs, Waterfront Development and Bayou Greenbelt.

44 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Locally owned and operated for over 30 years DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS FOR BUSINESS copiers • scanners • printers • fax • shredders 600 W McNeese Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-9913 Places & Faces

One project, the Enterprise Boulevard Extension Completion & Bike Trail, would better connect North Lake Charles to downtown, foster economic development, upgrade drainage, including tree planting and landscape enhancements, as well as create and offer pedestrian and family friendly activities that boost tourism in the region.

Other improvements under LC Rebound that would impact Bayou Greenbelt include park upgrades that will construct kayak launches at Riverside Park and at McNeese State University near the SEED Center.

In December 2022, McNeese State University and the community celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Contraband Bayou Improvement Project and the opening of the Richard R. Rhoden Bridge, which now connects campus buildings and residence halls to the main campus. Graphic design students in the McNeese Visual Arts program designed the Bayou Greenbelt logo, which was unveiled at this celebration.

Construction on the Nelson Road Bridge and Extension Project began last summer. The project involves building a bridge across Contraband Bayou, including pedestrian access, and connecting Nelson Road to West Sallier Street. The state's Department of Transportation and Development expects the work to be finished in 2026.

These developments and initiatives not only drive Bayou Greenbelt’s progress but embody a transformative vision for Just Imagine SWLA’s natural and cultural resources. With work underway to improve connectivity, spur economic development and enhance recreational amenities, the region is set for a resilient and vibrant future.

To learn more about Just Imagine SWLA, visit 45

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana...

AdSource Outdoor Welcomes Gabriella Gillert

AdSource Outdoor is pleased to announce that Gabriella Gillert has joined its sales team as Account Executive.

Originally born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gabriella pursued her schooling dreams and relocated to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she successfully earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Northern Arizona University. After completing her degree, Gabby made the heartfelt choice to settle in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Contact Gabriella at (505) 506-8041 or for more information.

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Names Duhon Patient Care Director

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital (WCCH) is pleased to announce that Lance M. Duhon, RN, BSN, has been promoted from the position of House Supervisor to Patient Care Director. In his new role, Duhon will oversee the organization’s house supervision and patient care staffing operations.

Duhon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from McNeese State University. He brings over eighteen years of nursing experience to his new role. He has been an employee of WCCH since 2012 and has served as house supervisor for six years.

Brady Renard Graduates from Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy

During the Louisiana Travel Association’s Annual Meeting this month in New Orleans, Brady Renard, director of content/video marketing at Visit Lake Charles (VLC), was recognized as one of the 2023 Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy (LTLA) graduates.

Renard successfully completed the association’s training program designed to continue educating the next generation of tourism professionals. He was one of 30 graduates who were honored.

Since making the transition from sports journalism to tourism, Renard has transformed Visit Lake Charles' media capabilities, achieving a 500% increase in social media video views and launching Louisiana's first destination podcast, achieving over 6,800 listens across 27 countries.

Since joining, Renard has significantly enhanced the organization's storytelling abilities, making a profound impact on its digital presence and engagement.

Matt Koch, President/ CEO of CSE Federal Credit Union, Honored with 2023 Volunteer Service Award CSE Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce that Matt Koch, President/ CEO, has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Volunteer Service Award during the 2024 Chamber SWLA & Economic Development Alliance Annual Banquet. This esteemed recognition underscores CSE's unwavering commitment to dedicated service within the community.

The Volunteer Service Award, presented by the Chamber SWLA & Economic Development Alliance, honors someone who understands and supports the work of the Alliance. Matt Koch's leadership contributions have made a lasting impact on the communities CSE Federal Credit Union serves.

Lake Charles Memorial Announces New Vice President of Physician Services

Lake Charles Memorial Health System welcomes Charles “Charlie” J. Lathram III, FACMPE, CCP as the new Vice President of Physician Services. Lathram joins the LCMHS family with 30 years of healthcare management experience. In this role, Lathram will leverage the robust network of employed providers and their specialties to ensure access to quality healthcare for the community, service offerings, and operational excellence.

After receiving his bachelor's in psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lathram began his career in healthcare administration by managing an ophthalmology practice. By the age of 26 he was managing a 16 provider OBGYN practice. Since then, Charlie has played pivotal roles in transforming multiple physician practices into thriving networks of healthcare delivery systems. His success is attributed to his dedication to a collaborative approach building positive relationships with providers, clinicians, administrative teams, and local community leaders. Prior to joining Memorial, he most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer for Galen Medical Group in Chattanooga, TN.

46 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Who’s News? You tell us! Send press releases to
Garbiella Gilbert Lance M. Duhon, RN Brady Renard Matt Koch, left
Charles Lathram III, FACMPE, CCP
& Faces

San Miguel-McLeod Banners Event

There is a crisis of local journalism in America. Local newspapers were ceasing publication on average of 2.5 closures per week in 2023, up from 2.0 closures in 2022, according to a report by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Further, the Northwestern report says that some 2,900 local newspapers have stopped publishing over the last 20 years, representing a loss of approximately one-third of newspapers in this country.

What does this mean for communities throughout the country when no independent media closely follows local government? The largest newspaper in South Carolina partners with community foundations in its state to invest in investigative journalism throughout the state, including joining with smaller papers to combine efforts.

The editor of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., Autumn Phillips, will speak about this work at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Lake Charles, on the McNeese State University campus. Phillips will speak in Stokes Auditorium in Hardtner Hall, on 4175 Allen Drive, located on Common Street just south of Sale Road.

The Post and Courier Public Service and Investigative Fund was featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning. The fund has supported stories on elected officials’ conflicts of interest, misspending of tax funds, and on public education and climate. Some of the more than 100 stories that the fund has enabled have triggered state investigations and audits.

This is a joint presentation of the Hector San Miguel Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation SWLA, and the McLeod Lecture Series, part of Banners at McNeese State University. Hector San Miguel was an award-winning reporter investigative journalist for the American Press. He died of leukemia in 2009 at the age of 51. The Memorial Fund promotes excellence in journalism and relentless pursuit of the truth in Southwest Louisiana.

The annual McLeod Lecture Series, established in 2004, honors the late Bill McLeod, who served with distinction as a local district judge as well as a Louisiana legislator. McLeod, who died in 2003, rose to the chairmanship of the Senate Retirement Committee and served as dean of the Southwest Louisiana delegation. The lecture series presents timely, as well as historical, aspects of Louisiana politics, and also presents efforts to promote a climate of good government. All research materials, records, and artifacts pertaining to the annual lecture will become a part of the McNeese Library Archives.

The public is welcome, and there is no admission charge. Audience members in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The Hector San Miguel Memorial Fund plans to follow this event with a new initiative, with its same mission of furthering journalism in Southwest Louisiana. 47
Hector San Miguel Autumn Phillips

Mind & Body


Teen mental health has reached an unprecedented crisis point. The recent national Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported nearly 50% of teens have symptoms of clinical depression, 20% have contemplated suicide over the past year, and 10% have attempted suicide. These statistics are alarming – indicative of an upcoming generation of adults who are overwhelmed and struggling.

Beyond typical “angst,” teens today have contended with school violence, climate concerns, wars, a global pandemic, and political unrest at an intensity greater than ever before. Teens seek relief from these stressors. They also want to feel a sense of belonging with friends and enjoy themselves. These needs are healthy, but problems arise when they experiment with self-destructive strategies to meet them, such as vaping, drinking, excessive gaming, compulsive social media use, and online gambling. Of greater concern is how often teens are targeted by addiction-for-profit industries disguising themselves as “harmless fun” and promoting destructive coping.

Consider vaping, for example. Teens view pro-vaping content frequently on social media (a paid marketing effort by the industry), hear positive messages about vaping from their peers and may enjoy the taste and buzz they get when vaping. However, vaping drastically harms teens’ mental and physical health; each hit fills their lungs with thousands of different toxins, metals and carcinogens which can permanently alter their brain development and damage their lungs.

How can parents help their kids differentiate between healthy and unhealthy coping? Research supports several strategies:


Maybe you have a strong supportive relationship with your child, or perhaps you need to build that relationship; either way, you can communicate support and encourage your child to talk to you about their concerns and struggles by validating their feelings (“I can see where you’re coming from”; “I’m really glad you shared this with me”), asking caring questions (“can you help me understand what happened? I want to be here for you.”) and letting them know you’re listening (“I won’t tell you what to do, I just want to be here to listen to you.”; “You won’t get in trouble, please know you can be honest with me.”)


Our kids watch us for cues about how to act. Use this to your advantage! When you feel stressed, try meditation, exercise, or processing through emotions with others. Normalize these behaviors and your teen might try them too. Maybe even do them together! And if you think you may need to work with a therapist, taking the first step shows them that it’s okay. Set the example you’d like them to follow.


A teen’s understanding of their parents’ opinions about drugs, and having early conversations about them, are some of the strongest predictors of whether or not they choose to use drugs themselves. It’s ideal to have your first conversations about drugs with your kids before they encounter them at school – around age 10. A useful mantra for athome drug education is “60 one-minute conversations are better than one 60-minute conversation.” Consistency and familiarity with the subject are far more important than “having the conversation” once.

Remember, teens often use addictive behaviors to solve an emotional problem; they’re looking to feel better when they feel overwhelmed. When parents provide safe spaces, helpful information, and healthy alternatives, teens are empowered to meet their emotional needs instead of masking them. Teen mental health is a complex problem, but simple, small steps can make a big difference.

Aaron Weiner, PhD, is a licensed, board-certified psychologist, master addiction counselor, clinician, author, and frequent speaker on addiction treatment and issues.

48 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024



If you are age 45+ or have a history of colorectal cancer in your family, talk with your doctor about scheduling your screening colonoscopy. It’s quick, painless, and it’s the only test to prevent colorectal cancer, with its unique ability to remove polyps before they turn into cancer.

Lake Charles Memorial Health System is on the front lines in the fight to defeat this all-too-often silent killer.


Sarpreet Basra, MD Frank Marrero, MD Eric Fontenot, MD Khaled Nour, MD


The Healing Clinics offer medical marijuana evaluations both in-person and via telehealth. Their clinics, located, across Louisiana, are staffed by physicians and healing specialists who live and work in Louisiana. Each day, they field a variety of questions from patients and those interested in the medical marijuana program. This article answers several of the most frequently asked questions.


Louisiana allows any debilitating condition to qualify a patient for medical marijuana. Examples of qualifying conditions include insomnia, PTSD, anxiety, cancer, seizures, pain, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, glaucoma, and muscle spasms.


Technically, any physician licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana can provide a medical marijuana evaluation. However, because marijuana is still federally illegal, most physicians and major healthcare facilities choose not to become involved in the marijuana industry due to banking and other issues. If a provider co-mingles money from marijuana evaluations with their regular practice income, banking institutions have the authority and obligation to freeze accounts related to marijuana. Credit card processors generally do not allow charges for marijuana evaluations, further complicating payments. Also, premise liability and workers comp carriers are required to be notified if a provider is involved in marijuanarelated services. It’s also important to note that health insurance does not cover marijuana related charges due to lack of federal legality. The Healing Clinics specialize in medical marijuana evaluations and are set up to make the process easy and convenient. Anyone can get an evaluation but only patients who have recommendations can get products. A recommendation is what a marijuana pharmacy receives upon completion of a provider evaluation.


Interested persons can contact The Healing Clinics, LLC to get started on their healing journey. These Clinics have been in operation since the inception of the program in 2018 and have admitted thousands of patients to the medical marijuana program in Louisiana. The most compelling success stories are those from patients who have been able to reduce their use of narcotics and regain their quality of life.

In addition to evaluations, The Healing Clinics take care of the necessary paperwork. Often employers, child protective services, district attorneys, law enforcement, and other authorities request paperwork from providers regarding medical marijuana recommendations. Patients can have peace of mind when they receive treatment from a provider who is accessible.


Louisiana currently has 10 regional licensees with several of those licensees having multiple locations. With more medical marijuana pharmacies, accessibility is better than ever. Online ordering and delivery make it even more convenient and accessible for patients. Marijuana pharmacists are skilled in helping patients choose the best products for their qualifying condition.


Contact The Healing Clinics by phone at (318) 227-4088, the website thehealingclinics. com, send a message through a patient portal, or start a chat on the website. Patients can also send an email to or text via one of the convenient HIPAA-protected texting platforms.

For more information, the healing specialists and physicians at The Healing Clinics can provide answers and help determine if medical marijuana might be right for you.

50 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Mind & Body
EASY AS GET LEGAL 2023 MEDICAL MARIJUANA EVALUATIONS STEP 1: Submit Forms STEP 2: Physician Evaluation STEP 3: Pick up your Products Telehealth Available • (318) 227-4088


Celebrates 200th Operation in New Hybrid Operating Room

CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital commemorated its 200th operation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month for a new hybrid operating room, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing commitment to innovative health care.

Integrating the latest surgical and cardiovascular advancements into the new room, CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital's team of compassionate cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and vascular surgeons can undertake complex procedures for patients with aortic and cardiovascular conditions.

"This achievement is a game changer for our patients because the room allows us to do everything in one room from minimally invasive procedures to complex open heart surgeries," said Dr. Thomas Mulhearn, intervention cardiologist.

The collaborative efforts of CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital's multidisciplinary

team and the CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwest Louisiana Foundation have been instrumental in achieving this milestone. The foundation raised $3 million to invest into creating the revolutionary hybrid operating room. The team’s dedication to innovation and patient-centered care has elevated the standard of health care in the community.

We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion," said Jim Davidson, president and chief operating officer of CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital. "The hybrid operating room represents a groundbreaking achievement into modern health care, allowing us to deliver advanced treatments and interventions to our patients with aortic and cardiovascular conditions."

As the hospital continues to leverage the capabilities of its state-of-the-art facilities, CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital remains committed to advancing health care and

improving outcomes for patients across Southwest Louisiana.

About CHRISTUS Ochsner Health

Southwestern Louisiana

CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana, an integrated partnership of CHRISTUS Health and Ochsner Health System, is composed of CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area Hospital, CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital, CHRISTUS Ochsner Imperial Surgical Center, Physician Clinics, Imaging Services, and other health-related services. With the CHRISTUS Health mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the partnership uses the strength and combined resources of both partners to provide greater access to high-quality care close to home in Southwest Louisiana.

52 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Mind & Body Jason Morris, M.D. Board Certified Family Physician Get started now to look and feel healthier by summer! We offer America’s most successful weight-loss shots, as well as hormone replacement treatments for women and men. SLIM DOWN Offering America’s Most Successful Weight-Loss Shots CALL TODAY! (337) 312-0030 277 Hwy. 171, Suite B, Moss Bluff 53 | (337) 721-7236 | Lake Charles | Moss Bluff WE’RE AROUND YOU CENTERED The Center for Orthopaedics provides national-level sports medicine expertise right here in Southwest Louisiana. Our team of doctors and support staff offers experienced, hands-on care to tackle the toughest musculoskeletal injuries. We’ll also help you develop a game plan to prevent future injuries. Whether you’ve been injured on the field, at a gym or in your own back yard, trust the CFO team to give you an accurate diagnosis and get you safely back in action.


Along with fun and culture, festivals also present a canvas for individual expression through fashion; a chance for you to flex your personal style in a free-spirited way. From eclectic to whimsical, here’s a roundup of fun ways to use color, accessories, and makeup to create a memorable

– Embrace your inner artist with bold and vibrant eyeshadows in neon hues or metallic shades. Experiment with glitter, rhinestones, and metallic accents. Body glitter now comes in a myriad of different themed shapes (yes, even crawfish). You can also choose easy body glitter stickers in shapes that match the festival theme. Stick-on jewels are another popular festival look that can brighten up your face and create a memorable look. Or choose Spirit Sticks and face paint to add some whimsy. Many festivals use blacklights after dark so choosing glitter or face paint that glows can be a fun surprise when the lights dim. The key is

self-expression – be bold and have fun! Fringe jackets, metallic skirts, or sequined shorts are another way to make your outfit shine. Pro tip: a sticky lint roller will remove all of the glitter from your face and body with a quick swipe!

Accessories are an effortless way to amplify your festival look.

• Shoelaces and tassel earrings in colors that match the theme – Example: green and red for the Watermelon Festival, green and shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.

• Themed earrings (wine corks for Rouge et Blanc, musical notes for Jazz Fest). If you plan ahead, you can even order inexpensive laser cut glitter earrings on Etsy that spell out your festival theme (Rice, Blues, Jazz etc.).

• Tights or socks that feature a whimsical festival reference. Example: crawfish, strawberries, musical notes.

• Oversized sunglasses with colored lenses add a pop of fun!

• Experiment with unconventional accessories such as LED light-up jewelry or glittering body chains that shimmer under the sun. Light up shoes are another popular festival choice after dark.

Continued on p56 55


Complete your festival look with a headpiece or hair treatment; and there are plenty to choose from!

• Headbands with fun fabrics or stick-on adornments (red beans, oysters, rabbits) to match popular festivals.

• Elaborate crowns featuring gemstones or feathers.

• Wigs or temporary hair color hair.

• Light up cowboy hats and fedoras – LEDs are lightweight and inexpensive so there are lots of bright options.

• You can also hot glue flowers and other themed items onto hats for a one-of-a-kind accessory.


Matching outfits with your crew is a fun way to stand out in the crowd (or find your friends in a sea of people). This can be easily accomplished if everyone wears the same eye-catching graphic tees and matching accessories in a unified color.

Additional tips for a fun festival day:

• Consider the temperature – don’t forget sunscreen, hats, and shades to block out the sun’s harsh rays. Choose long lasting makeup that will hold up in harsh temperatures.

• Wear comfortable shoes – nothing ruins a fun time faster than sore feet!

• Go hands free – choose a fanny pack or crossbody bag for your essentials and to keep your phone safe from theft or loss. Pro tip: pack individual wet wipes for easy cleanup on the go!

Dress For the Fest


Sequins and Boho Details

In SWLA, nothing beats a good festival. And for women, what to wear to a festival is often just as important as attending the event itself.

The one rule you need to follow when dressing for a festival is to have fun. Feel free to try something new—something you wouldn’t normally wear. Another big key to dressing for a festival is comfort, especially in the SWLA heat. Courtney Benton with Mill + Gray says, “from denim shorts and mini-skirts to fun printed tops and dresses to laidback silhouettes . . . [these] styles will keep you cute and cool in the heat.”

If you’re a conservative dresser, grab a pair of denim shorts or utility pants and a graphic t-shirt. Mia Mouton Rene, owner of Mia’s Downtown, says that Mia’s always sells tons of t-shirts, especially band tees. Whether it’s a Def Leppard or an Elvis Presley graphic tee, musicthemed clothing is always a hot style, especially for local music festivals such as Downtown at Sundown or Chuck Fest.

You can also dress for a festival as if you’re attending a Taylor Swift concert. In fact, fans dressing for stadium concerts take inspiration from big music festivals such as Coachella. The more glitter, sequins and metallic elements an outfit has, the better. Tina Ardinger, owner of Millie Mae’s in DeRidder, says anything to “add a bit more sparkle to your wardrobe” will be popular festival wear. A bedazzled denim jacket, a pink sequin bodysuit or a golden metallic dress will make you stand out in that festival crowd.

Festival dressing has always had a boho element to it. The boho thread can be followed all the way back to the Woodstock festival in 1969. Bell bottoms, quirky floral prints, harem

pants and clothing with crochet details are always in style for festivals. And it’s even easier to find flared pants in 2024, as this trend is circulating back into the mass market. The great thing about boho elements is they lend themselves to outfits that are relaxed and comfortable, whether you’re dancing all day or eating to your heart’s content, as we like to do in SWLA.

You can always tailor your outfit to the particular festival you will be attending. For example, Mouton-Rene says that Mia’s will offer more nautical wear around the time of the Pirate Festival. She predicts striped shirts will be a big seller around that time. Ardinger says Millie Mae’s drops collections before big events and holidays. The store’s next big drop will be inspired by the Houston Rodeo. Brown fringe elements are perfect for a day spent with coyboys.

Two-piece sets, also known as co-ords, are the real MVPs when it comes to dressing for style and comfort at local events. Two-piece sets eliminate the need to search for matching separates. Sets exude sleek vibes yet are extremely simple in nature. Visit any local store, and you’re sure to find an abundance of twopiece sets. A perfectly matching top and skirt set only needs proper accessorizing before you step out the door. Sets require little time and little effort, yet still have you looking like you spent an hour on your wardrobe.

When all else fails, don’t forget mini-dresses. They can help you out in a pinch. A little black dress with some crochet detailing or an airy white linen dress to beat the heat are easy yet chic options if you’re struggling to find something to wear to Spring Art Walk.

Style & Beauty | POP OF COLOR 57



The Sculptry marks a return to her passion for helping others rediscover their natural beauty in a community she knows and loves. As excitement builds for the grand opening, Hannah shares insights into everyone's beloved anti-aging solution – injectables!

Trust the Injector with a Global Assessment

Hannah emphasizes the importance of finding and trusting an injector who utilizes the 'Global Assessment' approach, which focuses not only on one particular area of concern but also on overall facial balancing and harmony.

“Considering the face as a whole, along with your unique anatomy and all aspects of the inevitable aging process, is crucial,” she explains. “By employing this approach and not just zoning in on one area, we can tailor a plan that suits your unique facial features and enhances what's naturally beautiful for you.”

Combination Therapy

Hannah believes in the transformative power of Combination Therapy, recognizing that effective anti-aging results stem from addressing all facets of the aging process with a blend of therapies. Utilizing multiple injectable products targeting different aging aspects will deliver the best results. Enter neurotoxins, dermal fillers, thread lifts, and biostimulators – the top-recommended injectables that work to achieve a youthful glow and a multidimensional makeover.

Knowledge is Power

Knowing what each injectable product does and how it works will help clients have a more informed discussion with their injector and ensure they get the best treatment for their needs and goals. Here’s an overview of the four most common injectables:

• Neurotoxins. Neurotoxins like Botox, Dysport, Daxxify, and Jeuveau are commonly used to soften lines and wrinkles caused by repetitive facial expressions. By temporarily relaxing targeted muscles, neurotoxins can smooth and erase forehead lines, crow's feet, and frown lines, resulting in a more youthful, rested appearance.

• Dermal fillers. On the other hand, dermal fillers are versatile gel-like substances made of hyaluronic acid and are used to restore lost volume and contour the face. Whether plumping or adding definition to the lips, softening smile lines, sculpting the jawline, or adding volume to the midface, fillers can create subtle yet impactful changes that enhance facial symmetry and proportion.

• Biostimulators. Biostimulators such as Sculptra work differently from traditional fillers. Instead of instantly adding volume, biostimulators encourage your body’s natural collagen production, gradually restoring volume and improving skin quality over time. This natural approach to volumizing provides long-lasting results and a more youthful appearance.

• Thread Lifts. Thread lifts are a minimally invasive procedure that can provide a subtle lift and rejuvenation to the face. By inserting dissolvable threads under the skin, we can lift sagging tissues and stimulate collagen production for a youthful appearance. This treatment offers natural-looking results with minimal downtime, making it a popular choice for those seeking non-surgical facial rejuvenation.

Enhance, Don’t Change

Gone are the days of overtreating and overfilling, as well as changing your appearance completely. “It's about enhancing your unique features rather than trying to achieve some unrealistic ideal,” Hannah says. “When done consciously and skillfully, using a mix of treatments like neurotoxins, fillers, threads, and biostimulators can make a significant impact, giving you that subtle but noticeable rejuvenation.”

Hannah’s new medical spa, The Sculptry, slated to open in June 2024, will be dedicated to providing top-notch injectable treatments to her community. Hannah prioritizes education, trust, and transparency, ensuring that her clients will receive a comprehensive global facial assessment, individualized treatment plans, and the most beautiful, consistent results. In addition to injectables, The Sculptry will offer a variety of treatments and products for every anti-aging need. Hannah’s team of aesthetic and laser experts will deliver this personalized approach to help clients rediscover their beauty and confidence.

Follow along on their journey to the opening on Facebook or Instagram @TheSculptry or visit their website at

58 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024
Style & Beauty 59


Spring Lawn & Garden

Imagine your lawn waking up from a long winter’s sleep. It’s a bit disheveled and groggy, right! But despite the stretching and yawning, it’s eager to start a new day; or a new season, as the case may be. Early spring is prime time to wake up your yard and prepare it for the blooming and growing season. This special section invites you to break out the lawn and garden tools and dig in. You’ll find a stepby-step guide to help you get started on your to-do list, plus a piece on how to handle the pests. If you’re considering selling your home, there’s also a story with tips to spruce up your property and create great curb appeal. Don’t sleep on your yard this spring!

60 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Home & Family 61


Spring at last . . . and there’s no time like the present to get your yard ready for the growing and blooming season.

Chad Everage with Landscape Management says the earlier you can invest some time and attention preparing your yard for spring, the better your results will be. “As the plants and ground ‘wake up’ from their dormant winter state, there are steps you need to take to welcome them back. Some plants that died during the freeze need to be replaced. Now is the right time to do this.”

Many people don't give their yard a second thought until the grass starts growing and shrubs and flowers begin budding. By then, Everage says you are well into the growing season and you’ve missed the short window of opportunity to do some simple prep work that can make a big difference throughout the spring and summer. He recommends going on a scouting inspection as soon as you can. “Walk your entire yard and look for any damage that occurred to trees, shrubs, fencing, lawn and other areas over winter. That will give you a starting point for your spring landscaping to-do list.”

Everage offers the following


It probably doesn’t look like much at this point, but it won’t be long before the grass is growing out of control. Rake away all the dried-up dead grass and weeds first. “This is very important,” Everage says, “because anything you add, such as new seed or fertilizer will simply sit on the top of the dead grass and any other debris, rather than getting down into the soil.”

If your lawn already needs mowing, set the mower blades at their highest setting, just to trim off the top. Spread grass seed over any bare spots in the yard. Consider adding slow-release fertilizer and/or weed stopper to your yard. Most lawns need this, according to Everage. “If you are uncertain about what to use, just ask. There are a variety of grass fertilizer options to address specific issues you might have in your yard.”


If you need to prune ornamental trees and shrubs, Everage says the best time to do so is before growth starts. “The exceptions to that rule are spring-flowering shrubs. For those, you need to wait until after they finish flowering.”

Clean Your Garden Beds

Cut down any perennial foliage remaining from last year and clean the beds out. Remove all the old mulch, leaves and branches. Everage says it’s important to remove as much of the old mulch as possible so that it doesn’t build up and smother your plants. You should also check around the base of any woody trees and shrubs to make sure there is no mulch left around the trunks. If there is, remove it so it doesn’t cause the wood to rot. Define the edge around your beds and then put down a fresh layer of mulching material before adding any new plants.


This is a good time to remove as many weeds as possible before they have the opportunity to flower and seed. Everage says if you need an incentive, consider this: some weeds can produce as many as 10,000 seeds each. “If you don’t take care of it now, you’ll have a lot more weeding to do in the hot, humid months ahead.”

Home & Family | Spring Lawn & Garden

Plant and Transplant

March is a good time to plant new roses, berries, fruit trees and most deciduous (leaf-shedding) plants. If you’re still not sure what to plant, Everage says ask for advice. “If you want to move a plant from one spot to another, do so as soon as you can. It’s best to do this before annual spring growth begins.”

Pick your Perennials

Take a look around your yard and decide if you can brighten it up with a few new colors. Everage says to be sure to pay attention to the amount of sunlight and the soil conditions around your yard before you make purchases.

“Our nursery team is happy to help you understand which plants are best for your landscape condition,” he adds. “We can work with you to make sure your landscape is ready for a beautiful blooming season.”

For help with landscape design or landscape renovation, call Landscape Management at (337) 478-3836, visit, or stop by Landscape Management’s retail nursery in Lake Charles. 63

Annual Garden EXPO Draws Thousands to Burton Coliseum

It’s time for the Southwest Louisiana (SWL) Garden Conference & EXPO! This muchanticipated garden extravaganza takes place March 21-23 and celebrates its 25th year and it’s all about flowers, trees, shrubs, garden accessories, books, demonstrations, educational lectures, and general garden tools. Area, regional, interstate exhibitors, and vendors can assist you with plant and garden needs. The Federated Garden Clubs of Southwest Louisiana present their 2024 theme, Wild Adventures, and will display their floral design and horticultural talents. New and exciting educational programs about garden topics, given by LSU AgCenter specialists and guest speakers, are open to the public.

"The Garden EXPO is a wholesome, educational environment and the perfect activity to bring together friends and families," said LSU AgCenter Extension Horticulturist, Robert Turley.

The EXPO attracts over 4,000 garden lovers, residents, and visitors each year. A Plant Health Clinic with professionals from the LSU AgCenter, as well as Master Gardener volunteers, can help diagnose plant problems and answer gardening questions. Educational seminars will be on-going throughout the two-day event. The 4-H Cart Service will be available to help attendees carry items to their vehicles.

Educational programs include Home Vegetable Gardening and Fruit Production on Friday, and programs on Ornamentals and Landscape Gardening & Herbs on Saturday.

The SWL Master Gardeners will present their Garden EXPO Preview Party with a Jambalaya Supper & Silent Auction in the Burton Coliseum Chalkley Room on Thursday, March 21, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m., donation of $10.00 for admission. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the LSU AgCenter, 7101 Gulf Hwy., Lake Charles, or purchased at the door the evening of the event. Attendees will enjoy the Jambalaya supper, participate in the Silent Auction, and may preview the Garden Show and purchase from participating Garden EXPO vendors that evening.

Regular Garden EXPO hours are Friday and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is $3 (cash only) for adults and free for children 12 and under.

For more information contact Robert Turley at (337) 337-721-4080 or E-Mail:

64 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Home & Family | Spring Lawn & Garden
Two Years Through 12th Grade Now Enrolling EDS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, or gender in admission of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and athletic and other school administered programs. NORTH CAMPUS Two Year Olds - 6th Grade 803 N. Division Street Lake Charles SOUTH CAMPUS 7 th to 12 th Grade 5665 N. Gray Market Drive Lake Charles Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School provides academic excellence to a diverse student body in a Christian environment. 337-433-5246 65 Put the life back in your landscaping! BOOK FOR SPRING COLOR NOW! Transform your old, damaged or overgrown landscape with a renovation from Landscape Management. Landscape renovation is the process of improving and modernizing an established landscape to give your outdoor space a fresh, new look. Give us a call to learn more! BEFORE AFTER (337) 478-3836 5005 Cobra Road, Lake Charles SEE YOUR PLAN COME TO LIFE, VIRTUALLY. Whether it’s a new home, a refinance or home improvement, let Lakeside make the home of your dreams a reality. MORTGAGE DEPARTMENT 337-502-4836 | 337-474-3766 Your Dream Home. Your Lakeside Loan.


As spring rolls into Southwest Louisiana, the climate is ideal for a variety of pests looking to stretch their legs on your property; some of the most common being Formosan termites, mosquitoes, ants, and roaches to name a few. But there are some measures you can take to help minimize and ideally eliminate those critters from your life.

Robert Soileau, Branch Manager at J&J Exterminating, recommends homeowners look for places where piles of leaves or grass and weeds have built up. “The winter months tend to allow things like moisture problems, overflowing gutters, and just general debris to pile up against the house,” he says. “These are all prime places for insects to thrive. It’s also a good idea to check all your doorways and windows and see if any openings have been created and things need to be re-caulked or weatherized.”

Soileau points out that while there are products available at garden stores and feed

stores, many of these are designed for only certain types of pests, and many are not effective against these bothersome critters due to either the make-up of the insect, their habits, or simply where they might be hiding in your yard and how deep.

Instead, Soileau suggests homeowners perform self-inspections of their yard while working outside, which can greatly help with prevention of pests as the season progresses. Trouble spots can pop up at any time and are best handled as soon as they are discovered.

Fire ants leave behind their tell-tale ant mounds all over the yard, while termites can show themselves by swarming in the springtime. This happens when the colonies get to a certain size and age as they swarm to form new colonies. Some species of ants are also known to swarm during the warmer months and can be confused with termites, but either can be a problem that should be handled immediately.

If an infestation is found, especially of termites, it’s best to call a professional to protect your home. This is a reactive measure and could be costly if termites are found and damages need to be repaired in addition to getting a termite treatment to control the infestation. The best plan is to have an inspection before a problem arises. Most pest control companies offer free initial inspections, so there is no obligation up front.

Knowing how insects reproduce, where they live, and how they infest homes and yards are all part of pest management strategy. Being aware of what is going on in your own yard is optimal to keeping pests out and costs down. Being proactive and calling on a professional to help you handle your property might be the best option, allowing you choose the proper treatment procedures and best products for your yard.

66 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Home & Family | Spring Lawn & Garden 67 Termites, Pests & Mosquitoes • JJEXT.COM 1.800.737.2847 F o r t h e G o o d T i m e s a t H o m e ! G e t t h e S h i e l d ! T e r m i t e s a r e j u s t a r o u n d t h e c o r n e r A N D M o s q u i t o e s a r e h e r e F R E E I N S P E C T I O N • T R E AT M E N T O P T I O N S • M A I N T E N A N C E JJExt_LC-Thrive_hlfpgMarch_2-7-24_JJ_LC-Thrive_hlfhorz_March-FamDnce_2-7-24 2/7/2024 11:58 AM Page 1 4845 Ihles Road, Lake Charles (337) 312-0972 | image matters. Make yours a Healthy one. advertising public relations graphic design media relations social media copywriting photography strategic planning video production website development event planning


Spring is the perfect time to give the outside of your home a fresh facelift. Even if you aren’t trying to sell your home, there’s a real benefit to enhancing and maintaining your home’s curb appeal.

According to Lisa Thompson, REALTOR with Century 21 Bessette Realty, exterior upgrades consistently rank among the best home improvement projects for their strong return on investment. “That’s because many of these strategies are fairly simple and relatively affordable solutions. While some homes may benefit from more extensive and expensive updates, like repaving a damaged driveway or replacing old windows, there are many simple,

low-cost updates that you can tackle yourself.“

Thompson says the first step is to assess your home’s appearance from a home buyer’s perspective. Imagine that you are seeing it for the first time, and then make a list of the characteristics that stand out immediately, and which ones you want to highlight.

To help get you started, Thompson suggests taking a closer, critical look at these areas:

68 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2024 Home & Family | Spring Lawn & Garden
5 3 4

1 LIGHTING. A dimly lit walkway is not only dangerous, but also uninviting. Pathway and landscape lighting products are available in a wide variety of designs and price ranges to add instant visual appeal. Check all exterior fixtures and bulbs to make sure they are working,

2 PAINT. The power of paint cannot be overstated. A fresh coat of paint on the front door, garage door and window trim can make a huge difference. However, if your front door has seen a lot of abuse over the years and is damaged beyond repair, it might be time to have it replaced. A new door is a guaranteed win when it comes to instant curb appeal, especially if you select a bold color.

3 GRIME. The effects of rainfall from the winter months likely means an accumulation of dirt that has set in on your driveway, front steps, walkways, doors, windows and vinyl siding. Invest in (or rent) a highpowered pressure washer to clean these exterior areas with relative ease. Windows are also a common focal point for prospective buyers, so consider hiring a professional window cleaner to remove streaks, dirt and dust.

4 LAWNS. Having a well-maintained lawn is a critical part of curb appeal. The National Association of Realtors studied the outdoor features that are most appealing to prospective buyers, and having a nice lawn was at the top of the list, so get out the lawnmower, edger and fertilizer before you list your home. Trim any overgrown shrubs and trees and consider filling in any empty spots with new plantings, especially if you can add a pop of bright color.

5 ENTRYWAYS. Make sure the entrance to your home creates a warm welcome. A bold door color captures attention. Consider black, steel gray, and red as on-trend colors. If the door is warped, rusted or cracked, replace it. Replace old or damaged light fixtures in the entry as well. Add a fresh welcome mat, a seasonal wreath and some bright potted plants, and people will be eager to come inside.

“An experienced real estate agent can help you assess your home’s curb appeal and provide suggestions for priority improvements to help you sell your home sooner, rather than later,” says Thompson.

For more information about adding curb appeal to sell your home, call CENTURY 21 Bessette at (33) 474-2185. 69

Donations to Holden’s Hope Can Be Made Through Income Tax Checkoff

Holden’s Hope receives preferred 501c3 status from the state

Former Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a law Senate Bill 61 authored by State Senator Jeremy Stine in 2023 to create an individual income tax checkoff for Holden’s Hope. This law measures: 1) allowing donations of personal income tax refunds by check off to Holden’s Hope; 2) clarifying that the donated monies are distributed by the Department of Revenue in accordance with statutory procedures; and 3) providing that the checkoff takes effect for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2023.

The Southwest Louisiana-based nonprofit organization mission focuses on supporting families of infants who have long medical stays in the hospital, families coping with miscarriages, stillbirths, or the loss of an infant, and the state hospitals who serve them. This is unfortunately the reality for one in 10 families, according to the Center for Disease Control.

“Having a premature baby is hard. These babies will spend weeks, months and sometimes years in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and sadly, not all will get to go home. This was the case for our son, Holden William Stine,” said Chavanne Stine, co-founder of Holden’s Hope. “Holden was born at 26 weeks gestation, weighing 1lb 14oz, due to a rare pregnancy complication. His lungs were severely underdeveloped, and he spent the entire year that he survived in the hospital. Knowing first-hand the roller coaster of emotions and obstacles NICU parents and bereaved families face, we wanted to create an organization to lend a helping hand and just say ‘we’re here for you.’ Holden’s Hope was born in his memory.” she added.

Since 2015, Holden’s Hope has provided needed support to more than one-hundred families across the state of Louisiana, and fostered partnerships with area hospitals so that they can better serve and meet the needs of these families—including donating more than $10,000 for developmental care items and providing bereavement training for staff.

“We are advocates for families,” said Garrett Stine, co-founder of Holden’s Hope. “The amount of stress, mental energy, expense of care and pressure parents feel in these

situations is a heavy burden. We assist families during some of their darkest hours and simply knowing there is an organization in the community like Holden’s Hope and knowing there are others who can relate to their loss is a comfort.”

The funds generated from their annual fundraisers, especially the Holden’s Hope Forever race day held each spring— scheduled this year for April 20, have allowed the organization to donate the following items to area hospitals:

• Miscarriage and infant loss memory boxes

• Ultrasound bears and frames

• Baby clothing & blankets

• Noise machines

• Gliding rockers

• Comforting equipment

Furthermore, private and company-driven contributions from the community have enabled the organization to provide:

• Gas cards and overnight hotel stays for families traveling to visit their child in the NICU

• Mobiles for cribs

• Portable DVD players for long-term care babies

• Infant burial plot assistance and preparations

• Funeral expense assistance

“Donations are vital to alleviating even small worries for these families,” said Garrett. “There is no amount of money that is too small, and we use every dollar to support these families and the NICU units however we can. For instance, just $50 allows us to purchase gas gift cards to assist families as they make many trips between their home and the hospital.”

The average financial assistance Holden’s Hope contributes annually with current funding sources is:

• Infant loss (average per family): $2,500$5,000

• NICU family support: $250 - $3,500

• NICU unit support: $2,500 - $5,000

• NICU patient development and NICU family emotional support: $500 - $2,500

To learn more about Holden’s Hope, to become a volunteer, or to become an Anchor of Hope, please visit the website at

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