Wednesday, May 25, 2011


   Contraband Days is  a festival celebrating Jean Lafitte and his hidden treasures in Southwest Louisiana.  This year will be the  54th Annual Festival since its inception.The festival starts on April 26th and will continue through Sunday, May 8th. There will be many unique events that you can only experience at Contraband Days, including the Live Shark Encounter, Rhino Renovators Bike Race, Boat Parade, Volleyball Classic, American Press 5k, and the Kid's Costume Contest just to name a few.


   Contraband Days is one of Louisiana's largest festivals and the City of Lake Charles oldest festival and is celebrating its 52nd year in 2009. Contraband Days is a themed "pirate" festival with close to 100 events. Contraband Days always falls on the first two weekends in May and it's a twelve day festival. The Festival is based on the Lake Charles Civic Center grounds with some events occurring throughout the City. Over 100,000 people attend Contraband Days Festival on land and on the water.

Jean Lafitte


   Almost three centuries ago, a notorious and ruthless pirate named "Jean Lafitte" and his band of buccaneers were fleeing enemy ships and heading west to Galveston. Legend  has it that Lafitte & his band of buccaneers would hide out along the waterways in Lake Charles. Legend has it that Jean Lafitte's favorite hideout was Contraband Bayou in Lake Charles. Legend has it that the treasure (silver & gold) was hidden and buried by Lafitte in his favorite hideaway Contraband Bayou and hence given why the bayou is named Contraband.


   In 1957 a group of local businessmen from the Downtown Division of the Lake Charles Association of Commerce (later known as the Chamber of Commerce) formed Lake Charles Contraband Days Inc. (later known as Contraband Days Inc.) for the sole purpose of developing a program to utilize the Lake Charles areas in recreational and cultural activities and to attract tourists. The group opted for a pirate theme with the LEGEND of Lafitte's Buried Treasure along Contraband Bayou thus the first Annual Contraband Days was held in June 1958 as a one day event with a boat parade, water ski show and boat races. A few years later this group of men formed another

organization called the Buccaneers of Lake Charles, Inc and added entertainment by dressing in pirate attire and costume. A "Jean Lafitte" would be selected to lead the buccaneers to "Capture the Mayor and take over the City". Part of the buccaneer group would also dress in "City Militia" attire, armed with real cannons to try to ward off Lafitte & his buccaneers from landing as part of the entertainment.

   The Buccaneers of Lake Charles is the primary part of the festivals "pirate themed" entertainment, begins and ends the festivities, and promotes the festival year round.
   Contraband Days Inc. is the organization that plans, organizes, and budgets for the festivals events Forty eight years later Contraband Days has grown from a one day to a twelve day festival with close to 100 events

Miss Contraband

   Contraband Days Festival grew over the years as a scheduler of many types of events, contests, and attractions. Charitable organizations were and still are encouraged to host an event during Contraband Days. Charitable organizations, schools, and churches host events, contests, booths, etc during Contraband Days and some have been involved for many years.

   Contraband Days is not only a festival to promote tourism and to provide entertainment, it also helps many charitable organizations raise funds for their causes.
   For these organizations, this is their MAJOR FUNDRAISER FOR THE YEAR which makes Contraband Days Festival VERY IMPORTANT to these organizations !!!! There are at least 20 local charitable organizations that benefit by having an event during Contraband Days each year.


In 1998 & 1999 Contraband Days enlisted McNeese State University to collect festival attendee Data and the results of that data revealed an average spends $16 -21 per day on the grounds and a total of 1.7 million dollars was spent directly on the festival grounds not counting the costs spent off the grounds as to food & beverage, lodging, shopping, etc.


   Contraband Days receives many awards and recognition each year from a national level to local.
   Contraband Days was selected and featured on the All American Festivals segment of the Television Food Network and was featured in Hot Boat Magazine. Contraband Days won again the ABA Top 100 Events in North America and this the 3rd time in the seven years Contraband Days has received this award. Contraband Days has also been featured in many top festival websites, magazines, and publications nationally each year.

A Pirate in the making

   Contraband Days receives Regional recognition as it has been selected "Festival of the Year" by La. Assn of Fairs & Festivals the past three years and receives numerous marketing awards by the Association as well. Also has been featured in Louisiana Life, Southern Living, Acadiana Profile, and many regional tourism guides and magazines as a must see festival destination
   Local recognition Tourism Partner of the Year SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau --May 2004 and has received many local awards as "Voted Best Festival" by Times of SWLA --- June 2004

 Contraband Days Events
   Contraband Days provides entertainment for all ages, heritage, and religion. Contraband Days began the first noted in festival history "Family Night" and is an alcohol free night for families with family entertainment. Concerts ranging from Christian and Gospel, to Country and Cajun, to Zydeco, Urban|R & B acts, Oldies, & Classic Rock are a big part of the festival entertainment. Entertainers from nationally, to regional and local are known to have performed at the festival.



   The Portland Rose Festival is an annual civic festival held during the month of June in Portland, Oregon. It is organized by the volunteer non-profit Portland Rose Festival Association with the purpose of promoting the Portland region.
   One of the world's great special events, the Portland Rose Festival will celebrate 2011 with the theme, Carnival of Roses. The celebration of the festival's centennial in 2007 was so successful, the Rose Festival was named the "Best Festival in the World by the International Festivals & Events Association".


   The idea for the Rose Festival was presented to the public in a speech by Mayor Harry Lane,  at the end of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905. The first festival occurred in 1907.
   The Grand Floral Parade is the centerpiece of the festival and the second largest all-floral parade in the United States. More than 500,000 spectators line the  4.3 mile parade route, making this flower parade the largest spectator event in Oregon.  The first parade, in 1907, was called the Rose Carnival, but eventually came to be known as the Rose Festival Parade and later still the Grand Floral Parade.  The 1907 festival also included an "electric parade" with illuminated floats; this evolved into the Merrykhana Parade but after a two-season suspension was renamed the Starlight Parade in 1976.

   Since 1930 a queen has been selected from a court of high school seniors from each school in the area. The members of the court are called princesses. For a brief period starting in 1997 they were officially called "ambassadors", but the term "princesses" was reinstated in January 2007.  A college scholarship is awarded to a 14-member "royalty". Starting in 2009, the Rose Festival Foundation opened one place on the court to someone from a school outside the Portland city limits.

   A week prior to the Grand Floral Parade, the streets of downtown Portland glow with the lights of the Starlight Parade. The illuminated parade is one of the Portland Rose Festival's most popular events, drawing more than 250,000 spectators to view the sparkling floats, gleaming bands and glowing marching groups.

Older picture of a horsedrawn float

   A Junior Rose Festival, focused on children, began unofficially in 1921, on the city's east side, and included its own parade and junior court. It became an official part of the Rose Festival in 1936.  The festival's annual Junior Parade takes place in the city's Hollywood district. The Junior Parade has grown to an event involving nearly 10,000 children, making it the world's largest parade for children.

Rose Festival Fleet Week

   The 2006 Rose Festival Fleet
   During Fleet Week, ships from United States Navy, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the Royal Canadian Navy dock along the seawall of Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
   The festival also hosts a Champ Car race at Portland International Raceway, the Starlight Parade, a fireworks display, and carnival rides along the Portland waterfront, among other events. Dragon boat races on the Willamette River have been included every year since 1989.


    In addition to the Rose Festival celebrations is Plunderathon, a pirate-themed roving festival that typically starts at Skidmore Fountain and is intended as a non-family-friendly way for locals to recover from the Rose Festival.

Participants getting ready for The Golden Rose Ski Clasic

   The Golden Rose Ski Classic is an annual ski race originating in 1936. It is the oldest known organized ski race in America, and is the only USSA-sanctioned summer race.
   The Friday before the Grand Floral Parade has become traditionally the night that men propose to women in Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as "Portland's Living Room".  People gather to watch men get down on one knee and propose to their beloved.


   Being a college student myself and interested in all that is creepy and mysterious, I was inspired to write this list of the top 10 most haunted Colleges and Universities in the USA. I apologize in advance for those of you who attend night classes at any of these institutions. Please feel free to add your favorite college haunts to the comment section! We will begin with my current institution…

10. Penn State University
      State College, PA

   The inspiration for this whole list was the story of Betsy Aardsma who was a student at the university in 1969. She was doing research for her English class when she was stabbed to death in one of the aisles of books in The Pattee Library. Her murder goes unsolved even today. Her ghost is said to wander the library late at night. One student who was looking at books in the very aisle that Betsy was killed in, awoke that night to the sensation of being strangled – so much so that she could not call out for help to her roommate sleeping in the same room. If this isn’t enough, the spirit of an ax murderer is said to haunt Brumbaugh Hall on Halloween nights.

9. Bradford College
   Haverhill, MA

   This now abandoned college is host to a number of ghosts from the days when the college was still occupied by students. One of the more famous ghosts is that of a young girl who had a relationship with a priest at the school. When she became pregnant she either committed suicide or was murdered by the priest. Both her spirit and the spirit of the priest haunt the old Academy Building. Ghost hunters have also recorded numerous voices, screams and unexplained images on the abandoned campus.

8. University of Notre Dame

   In a school with as much history as Notre Dame, it is no surprise that it has its share of haunts. George Gipp, a legendary Notre Dame Football star who gave the famous “Win one for the Gipper” speech, is believed to haunt the university. A friendly ghost, he is often observed hovering over students shoulders, sometimes giving them a friendly pat, only to vanish when they turn around. While it would appear he is watching over students, the Patawatami Indians that also haunt the school are not so friendly. It is believed that Columbus Hall is built on their burial grounds, and the ghostly warriors are often seen riding horses up and down the steps of the hall as if protecting something within.

7. University of Georgia
    Athens, GA

   Another old school holding many mysteries and mysterious occurrences; from old confederate soldiers to murder and suicide, this campus is full of haunts. The Phi Mu sorority house is reportedly haunted by a girl named Anna Hamilton who witnessed her boyfriend murdered before her eyes and his body buried under the building’s front steps. Students have been able to talk with her using a Ouija board, and her crying is often heard in the house’s empty rooms. Another haunted sorority house is the Alpha Gamma Delta house. Being one of the universities oldest sororities, it is no surprise that is houses one of the oldest haunts, going all the way back to the founding family. Their daughter, Susie was stood up on her wedding day. Heartbroken, she hung herself in the attic. To this day occupants and visitors alike report seeing a women glaring at them from the attic windows.

6. Montclair State University
    Upper Montclair, NJ

   More specifically the Clove Road Apartments at Montclair State. Like Notre Dame, the apartments are also built on an Indian burial ground…never a good idea. Doors and windows slam and lock unexpectedly. Lights flicker on and off. The building always feels cold, even with the thermostat on max. Roommates report feeling random feelings of dread, and many fights have occurred for seemingly no reason at all. A man dressed in 19th century clothes hovers over the beds of sleeping tenants, only to vanish with their screams. Worst of all are the figures seen darting between the trees in the woods at night, believed to be the ghost of the Indians no longer at rest. No one will go near the woods after sundown for fear of the unknown.

5. St. Joseph’s College

   This college was used as a field hospital during the civil war. Unlike hospitals of today, civil war hospitals were often the equivalent of a modern day butcher shop. With little to no treatment options for the wounds suffered by battlefield weapons, the primary treatment was amputations. Stories are told of nurses carrying buckets of severed arms and legs away from these hospitals surgery wards. The screams of these men and, if you’re unlucky enough, the smells of the hospital are present throughout the campus. A few students have reported walking into full ghostly hospitals late at night. Amidst all this horror, a friendly ghost walks among them. Mother Seton, founder of the American Sisters of Charity, is often seen walking around campus smiling at students and rushing to attend to the eternally injured phantoms of soldiers.

4. Drew University
    Madison, NJ

   Surprising that a theological university and seminary would be full of haunts but Drew University has its fair share. A misty apparition haunts Asbury hall, believed to be of a student who hung himself from the rafters. The campus is also known for the haunting of Roxanna Mead Drew, wife of the founder. One day, a fire broke out in Mead Hall (named after Roxanna) and members of the Madison Fire Department were called in to douse the flames. Two firefighters who were fighting the blaze saw a woman apparently trapped inside the burning hall and went in after her. Witnesses say that she was dressed in 19th Century attire and that the flames burned right through her. She glanced at them then disappeared.

3. Cal State University
   Channel Islands (Camarillo, CA)

   It is never a good idea to build a university on the grounds of an old insane asylum as Cal State decided to do. Ever since the university first opened its doors in 2002, students have reported seeing the universities old residents wandering the grounds, halls, and streets of Cal State. Inmates are seen entering rooms which are empty upon investigation. Another inmate dances in a parking lot at night, only to fade as he approaches the streetlights. Scarier still are the violent ghosts who have thrown objects, knocked students over, and vandalized locked classrooms.

2. University of Illinois
    Urbana, IL

   After a night of drinking, a sister at the Alpha Phi Omega Sorority Hall returned to her room late one night. While ascending the stairs to get to her floor she noticed that she was being watched by a figure at the top of the stairs. Upon further inspection she realized that the figure, that of a man, was wearing a grey uniform and had no face. She quickly ran and told her friends; however the building was searched and nothing was found. Ever since then the man has been seen in numerous locations on campus. Some years ago, in Crampton Hall, a student was found hung in his closet. It was quickly determined that the student had been the victim of foul play, however no killer was ever found. Fast forward to 2007. When a student didn’t show up for a party, his friends went looking for him. They found him in his closet, hanging bound and naked upside-down, alive but terrified. That same night, several students were awakened by a man standing over them, who would turn and disappear into their closets. The man has never been identified.

1. Ohio University
    Athens, Ohio

   This should not be a surprise. It is well known and documented that Ohio University is perhaps one of the most haunted places in the world. From ghost teachers that talk to students, sounds and voices heard in sealed rooms, to an entire ghost basketball team, this campus is truly full of haunts. Nearly every single building on campus has at least one ghost associated with it. In a place literally full of ghosts, one manages to stand out among the rest. Wilson Hall is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the United States, and was featured in the TV series “Scariest Places on Earth”. A female student practicing satanic rituals supposedly died violently in room 428. While this story has no real backing, what is true is that school officials have closed and sealed the room because no student could live in it peacefully. Voices are heard throughout the halls, doors lock and unlock, open and close on their own, and ghostly figures wander the building. The building is also dead center of a pentagram formed by five cemeteries which surround the campus. Rumor has it that this building itself was built on top of an old mental hospital cemetery, however this was proven to be untrue.