More than a walk in the park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012



LAPLACE – Although the setting was different, the atmosphere and the attitude was much the same as large crowds turned out Saturday afternoon and evening for the annual Relay For Life event in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Instead of conducting activities at one of the football stadiums in the parish, which is typical of past relay events, organizers this year opted for a more high-profile setting on the grounds of the St. John Parish Community Center just off U.S. Highway 51 in LaPlace. The layout was more intimate, but the events were just as large.

“I think a lot of us like how things were set up closer this year,” Relay for Life committee member Brian Castillo said. “It makes it easier to see what is happening. There is less distance between activities.”

Relay for Life Chairperson Angelle Boudreaux said the closer confines made participants feel more like a family.

“When we were doing events at Riverside’s stadium, the booths and tents seemed really separate,” Boudreaux said. “Some booths were inside the track, others were outside, and some people just felt cut off. This year everything was in the same place.”

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, and similar events take place across the region and across the country. This year’s event in St. John attracted 30 teams and about 300 participants, who all used various methods to raise money for the event. Participants sold food, crafts and T-shirts, offered time in a photo booth and even sold chances to dunk various officials and attendees. There was also a rock wall and a small jail, where attendees could arrest other attendees for a small fee.

“Someone arrested me earlier in the day, and I never found out who it was,” said newly elected St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre. “But instead of paying money to get me out, people were putting up more to keep me in. I said that is not how jail works.”

Boudreaux said final fundraising numbers were not available as of press time Tuesday but added the figure was estimated to be more than $70,000, a total similar to last year.

“My set goal was actually $75,000,” she said. “Our fiscal year actually doesn’t end until Aug. 31, so I know we will hit that goal by then.”

Events began at noon and carried on until midnight, which was a shift from the usual overnight schedule of 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. that it was in the past.

“When we were holding events into the early morning hours many people were leaving early,” said Boudreaux. “I think more afternoon hours encouraged more people to come out and I know many of the team members liked the change.”