Giving Back: Lions keep eye on area

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — “We try to help out as many people and groups as we can.”

LaPlace Lions Club President Woody Norsworthy said those words as he described the club, which has a motto of “We Serve.”

He said Lions Club members aim to reach out to as many people as possible throughout the year through a variety of programs and events, and everyone involved even manages to have a little fun along the way.

The LaPlace Lions Club, which boasts approximately 65 members, is actively involved in the community throughout the year, serving through charity work that includes the support of sight programs and services including vision screenings, eye banks and eyeglass recycling.

In 2014, the club conducted eyesight screenings for over 150 parish children, met the Easter and Thanksgiving food needs of local residents and worked at the Andouille Festival.

Norsworthy said “it touches you when people get help they really need” through the various projects.

The club is now in the final weeks of preparing for its largest fundraisers, the Krewe du Monde Ball and Parade, with proceeds from the events funding the club’s programs throughout the year.

Lions Club Vice President Melynie Wright said Krewe du Monde — the largest parade in the River Parishes — is a parade with a purpose and will roll through LaPlace beginning at 11 a.m. Feb. 15, starting on Main Street and ending at the intersection of Fairway and Belle Terre Boulevard.

Wright said this year Krewe du Monde will feature approximately 25 floats, more than a dozen dance groups, the marching bands of East St. John High School and West St. John High School and more than a dozen local pageantry winners to equal over 80 parade units.

In keeping with the club’s ultimate goal of giving back, Wright said all float riders — which total nearly 600 this year — will bring a jar of peanut butter with them the day of the parade to donate to the St. John Ministry of Care.

New to the parade last year was a trailer that ran at the end of the float procession, in which parade participants were able to throw beads back to be sorted and resold by the ARC of St. John.

That effort will continue this year, Wright said, with the hope that “from beginning to end” people participating in any aspect of the parade will remember the true purpose of the festivities – giving back.

Carnival festivities for the parade’s royalty, as well as the entire community, will start when King and Queen du Monde XXXVI, Michael Hanley and his daughter Noelle Hanley of LaPlace, and other royalty are officially presented at the 36th Krewe du Monde Ball — with a “Rocks Your High School Dance” theme — at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the St. John Community Center. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Tickets, at $75 per person, can be purchased at or at Formal Connection, located at 299 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.

“There’s a sense of pride to see it go off,” Norsworthy said of the large-scale celebration, adding proceeds from this year’s ball and parade will benefit many local organizations, including the St. John Theatre, St. John Parish Young Marines and Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center.

Stephen Flynn, a Lions Club member, said the ball attracts as many as 1,000 people each year and “gives people a lot of pride something like that is here.”

Flynn said every effort is made by the Lions Club to secure a local venue and utilize local vendors for the celebration to keep money in the parish.

“This isn’t your grandma’s ball,” Flynn said, laughing of the fun night that includes live entertainment and avoids the pomp and circumstance of a stuffy, overly formal affair.

Norsworthy said the ball and parade planning are unique to the LaPlace Lions Club, with many other clubs around the country tackling much smaller projects and fundraisers.

Even with the work it takes to pull off, Norsworthy and Flynn agree it is worth it to have the ball and parade celebrations available to local residents, with money also being pumped into the local economy from everything from hotel, food and drink sales to tuxedo rentals and the purchase of gift items for that year’s royalty.

Wright said the Lions Club is “always looking for more service-minded individuals” to join, and “many of our Lions can also be found volunteering in many other service needs and opportunities throughout the parish.”

To find out more about the LaPlace Lions Club, visit