Local Girl Scout council plans 100th anniversary celebrations

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — On March 12, 1912, the Girl Scout Movement began with just a handful of girls. Fast forward 100 years and 50 million Girl Scout alumnae later, and Girl Scouts across the country are celebrating the movement’s centennial with events ranging from tree plantings to star-studded galas. Locally, Girl Scouts from southeast Louisiana have a calendar of activities including two events that fall during Girl Scout Week, March 11 – 17: a fundraising luncheon for alumnae and volunteers in Baton Rouge on March 15 and a large Centennial Extravaganza for girls and their families on March 17 at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

“Our founder Juliette Low was a visionary who knew that it would take an organization of all girls to change the world that she saw,” said Jackie Alexander, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts Louisiana East. “Our Centennial is a wonderful opportunity to honor her and the millions of women who developed into leaders through the Girl Scout experience.”

Girl Scout Week, which includes the March 12 birthday of Girl Scouts, begins with Girl Scout Sunday on March 11 and ends with the Girl Scout Sabbath on March 17, recognizing that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one. Girl Scout troops are encouraged to participate in the religious services of their choice as a way of letting the congregation know that Girl Scouts is a vital part of the community. Local Girl Scouts wear their Girl Scout uniform to services at area houses of worship, attending either as a troop or individually, and in some cases participating in the event as a reader; helping with communion; or participating in a flag ceremony.

The signature 100th anniversary event for girls and their families or troops is the GSLE Centennial Extravaganza on Saturday, March 17. The public is also invited to attend. The Extravaganza, whose presenting sponsor is Winn-Dixie, is being held at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, 9039 St. Landry Road, Gonzales, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., with a carnival of rides continuing to 9 p.m.  Cost is $8 per person if purchased by March 2, $10 at the door. Children under 3 and adults, 70 and older, will be admitted free. A carnival riding bracelet for an additional $5 is available on site for unlimited riding. Girl and adult volunteers helping with the event will receive discounted event pricing and a free patch. Media sponsors include Fox 8 WVUE, Clear Channel Radio New Orleans and Baton Rouge and WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge.

Girls and their families from across the council’s 23 parishes will enjoy a day of fun and exploration as they celebrate Girl Scouting across the years with an interactive historic exhibit (council is seeking memorabilia), and the international sisterhood of Girl Scouting with World Thinking Day activities including a parade of flags. Hands-on activities, demonstrations, a sing-along and a Year of the Girl panel with women community leaders discussing female leadership are just a few of day’s activities. Designed specifically to appeal to today’s Girl Scouts, activities include science, robotics, the arts, health and fitness and more. Extravaganza participants will also hold an item drive to benefit two Children’s Miracle Network beneficiaries, Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.

Tickets for the Extravaganza are for sale in the Girl Scout council shops at 841 S. Clearview Parkway, Jefferson, and 545 Colonial Drive, Baton Rouge, or online at www.gsle.org.

The council is seeking Girl Scout memorabilia such as vintage uniforms, photos, books or other items for display at the event. For additional information, please contact Extravaganza coordinator Kevin Shipp at 800-644-7571, ext. 2243. Additional 100th anniversary fundraisers include Painting with a Purpose on March 25 in many locations and the council’s Rhapsody in Green gala and FOREver Green golf tournament on June 23 in New Orleans. Information is available at www.gsle.org/100.