Businesses, individuals can pitch in for park

Published 10:18 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

As home to Christmas in the Park, two museums, picnic areas, a splash pad, various music festivals and recreational activities, Cassidy Park is definitely the heartbeat of the city of Bogalusa.

With that in mind, the city is in the process of establishing a fund for Cassidy Park. Museums of Cassidy Park Director Marcelle Hanemann said the city’s fortunes are closely tied to that of the park’s.

“In light of the city’s sizeable budget deficit and with the realization that Cassidy Park actually has the potential to save Bogalusa, I have gotten permission to establish a fund for Cassidy Park,” Hanemann said. “I truly believe that this park can act as an anchor and a stimulator for economic growth. We need to ensure its unfolding, its blossoming. The Blues Fest alone has made a big impact on the local and surrounding economy and has begun to change any negative perceptions of Bogalusa through positive, family-friendly experience in the beautiful park.”

Along with the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival, Cassidy Park is the site of the Gospel Festival, Native American Culture Day and annual Easter Egg Hunt, just to name a few.

“Cassidy Park has become recognized as one of the city’s greatest assets,” Hanemann said. “The events attract people from across the region and around the world. Many of them have commented on the site’s natural beauty and family-friendly atmosphere. In fact, one international BBHF performer said she wished she’d brought her family.

That’s good for the local economy. Visitors bring dollars, and they help spread the word that Bogalusa is healthy, vibrant and moving forward.”

Hanemann took over the position on Jan. 26. She is also a grant writer for the city. She said improvements in the park are continual.

“Improvements to the park are ongoing. The master plan includes adding a playground for young children, a dog park, an athletic court and more,” Hanemann said. “Another dream is to erect a ‘village’ of company houses on its outskirts.”

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette applauded Hanemann.

“I commend Marcelle for her efforts to help raise funds due to the budgetary cuts,” Perrette said. “Cassidy Park has more to offer today than in my childhood, and it’s’ getting better. With the new additions, I see more families enjoying it. We want to keep it going strong.”

The Fund for Cassidy Park allows organizations, businesses and individuals to help ensure the park’s maintenance and progress. Hanemann said donors may designate a particular project and have their names included on the sign that will be erected when that project is completed.

Hanemann said should a project be funded for more than it costs, the excess funds will go into the general Cassidy Park Fund to help further enhance park features.

To support the fund for Cassidy Park, individuals, civic groups and businesses can make checks payable to the City of Bogalusa Cassidy Park Fund and mail them to Hanemann in care of Friends of Cassidy Park Museums, P.O. Box 1373, Bogalusa, LA 70429. Donations are 5013C, which make them tax deducible.

Hanemann said residents can’t afford to let this opportunity slip by.

“The city has a $3 million budget deficit. We’ve been more than broke for years, and the state bond commission says we have to make it up,” Hanemann said. “We have to cut back big time, but we can’t let that be the end of Bogalusa. There is so much heart and soul here. There is so much community, and we can use that to not only survive, but to prosper, to blossom again.

Local residents use the park daily for their exercise routine or simply drive through for the relaxation. Hanemann said it is those residents who must see it through.

“We, the people who live and work here and who love Bogalusa, have to step up and pitch in as much as we can,” Hanemann said. “So many of us regularly walk or jog through the park or bring our kids or grandchildren. We come to hear music, to eat, to see old and interesting cars. And it’s so good for us. It’s a beautiful space where we can be outside, get in touch with nature, exercise, relax, play, learn something in the museums and get some social interaction. We can and should be proud of it. It should make all of us feel good when visitors exclaim what a cool place it is.

Hanemann said there are many ways to contribute to the fund.

“Now we can all take a little more ownership and feel a bit more pride by contributing to the cause,” Hanemann said. “People can donate in memory of somebody who loved the park. They can form groups of like-minded professionals, such as local veterinarians in support of the dog park. Businesses could even donate materials or services. I’ve always liked the idea of an Amish barn-raising, and the museums could use a small meeting room/kitchen building where they could host speakers they could rent out to other organizations for meetings or gatherings in order to bring in some much-needed income.”