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From left to right are outgoing Mayor of Turkey Creek Heather Cloud, Rotarian Nicole Courville and Rotary President Peter Strawitz. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

Christmas above self

VP Rotary spreads Christmas joy donating baskets and toys and hears about Turkey Creek’s Christmas in the Village

The Rotary motto of “service above self” took a Christmas twist Tuesday when members of the Ville Platte club donated Christmas baskets and Christmas toys to needy families.
According to Rotarian Annette Johnson, the club donated 10 food baskets from Champagne’s to “mostly people who had health issues or death in the family during the year.”
Those receiving the baskets were Tracey Jagneaux, Pitchy Tuminaro, Debbie Laughlin, Abby Ardoin, Janice Helmer, James Durgan, Rita Weston, Ursula Cullivan, Brittany Manuel, and Ashley Fontenot.
On that same day, Christmas toys donated through Rotary’s Toys for Ville Platte program were given to Catholic Daughters of America Court 1674 to be distributed to children around the city.
During Tuesday’s noon meeting, President Peter Strawitz delivered tokens of appreciation to the staff of the Our Lady Queen of All Saints Family Life Center for hosting the Rotary meetings and to Wilda Jacobs for providing the catered meal each week.
The club’s guest speaker Tuesday was outgoing Mayor of Turkey Creek Heather Cloud about the annual Christmas in the Village set for Saturday, December 22.
The mayor explained the event began during her first year in office in 2011. “Turkey Creek didn’t have a festival at all,” she said, “so I thought what would be a more inspiring time of year to host a festival in Turkey Creek than Christmas.”
“We really blew up our town,” she continued. “We started soliciting finances to be able to put lights up. We started light competitions in our town to get families to illuminate their homes.”
After the first Christmas event, it has continued to grow each year. Mayor Cloud said, “It has grown to a huge event where we have up to a couple thousand people coming into Turkey Creek, and that’s really remarkable because Turkey Creek is a very small rural place. To have people coming into our town bolsters our economy and bolsters morale. The kids and the families are excited.”
The event begins in the morning with a wooded trail ride through Nezpique Hunting Club north of town. “It’s a beautiful landscape, and it’s all the hill country in Evangeline Parish,” said the mayor. “It’s a hidden treasure that I wish could be opened up to the public more.”
The day will continue with a gumbo cookoff at Drouet Park in Turkey Creek and the parade at 12:00 p.m. “The parade is full of tractors and horses and classic cars,” Mayor Cloud said. “Everything unique is in Turkey Creek that day for the parade.”
Also at the park at 12:00 p.m. will be the festival with a new kick to it. The mayor expressed this kicker is ice skating. She said, “Mayor-elect Philip Cavins facilitated this. He’s contacted the company that does the ice skating rink for the Rapides Parish Christmas Festival on the Red River.”
The day will also include a classic car show and a slate of local entertainment. The event will conclude with firework entertainment. Mayor Cloud quipped, “I always say our fireworks show is not Natchitoches, but it’s close.”

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