The 38th annual St. Charles Parish Alligator Festival, sponsored by the St. Charles Parish Rotary Club will be held Thursday Sept. 21 – 24 at the Westbank Bridge Park.
Pat Bowes, a Westbank CPA, and a member of the St. Charles Rotary Club for over 35 years, designed this year’s official festival poster.
The St. Charles Rotary Club was formed in 1977 and officially chartered in 1978 with Bob Rice, St. Charles Superintendent of Education as its first president. In 1980, Archie Moliere, one of the founding members had an idea for a service project: a scholarship fund for graduating seniors at the local high schools. This was the beginning of the Rotary Scholarship Fund.
During Moliere’s term as president of the Rotary Club, the state of Louisiana removed the alligator off of the endangered species list. Soon after, members discussed how the Rotary Club could use an alligator as a resource to support the Scholarship Fund. It kicked off the very first Alligator Festival. Through the years, the festival location changed multiple times. But in 2000, with new development moving in, the festival was moved to its current location – Westbank Bridge Park.
From the beginning, festival proceeds were dedicated to local charities, but focused on the scholarship fund. The club now awards students academic scholarships each year to both Hahnville and Destrehan high school seniors. Since 1980, the Rotary Club has awarded over $800,000 in scholarship funds. The remaining proceeds are used to support other community and Rotary projects, such as: RYLA, the United Way, St. Charles Department of Recreation, Boy Scouts, Social Concerns, The Interact Club, JRROTC at the local high schools, local projects such as the walking trail and wetland watchers, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, and the Rotary Club’s sister club in Brazil.