Creole and Cajun Traditions Mardi Gras and a Pirate Festival
Lake Charles, also known as Port of Jean Lafitte, River Lafitte and Charleston, was founded by merchants and tradesmen as an outpost. Located on a level plain about 30 miles (48 km) from the Gulf of Mexico with an elevation of 13 feet (4.0 m) on the banks of the Calcasieu River in Southwestern Louisiana, it borders Lake Charles, Prien Lake, Henderson, English and Contraband Bayou.
Creole and Cajun Traditions the local culture includes the Lake Charles Symphony, founded in 1938, that hosts concerts at the Rosa Hart Theatre and the Lake Charles Little Theatre. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum features a permanent historical exhibit with artifacts, an art gallery and is home to the 400 years old Sallier oak tree. Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center hosts the Charlestown Farmers’ Market and the USS Orleck Naval Museum, located in North Lake Charles is a Veterans memorial and museum.
Historical Charpentier District is named for the carpenter-architects who built the mixed-style homes in the district. It features the Black Heritage Art Gallery, which is on the Louisiana African American Trail and the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu with the largest collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia in the South.
The Louisiana Pirate Festival is a twelve-day annual festival held during the first two weeks of May. The celebrations are filled with savory Cajun food, family fun, and live entertainment. Following the legend of piracy on the lake and Contraband Bayou, the festival begins with pirate Jean Lafitte and his crew capturing the city and forcing the mayor to walk the plank.
Ocean-going Ships Sail from the Gulf of Mexico via the Calcasieu Ship Channel
The Port of Lake Charles is the thirteenth-busiest in the United States, the fourth-largest liner service seaport in the U.S. Gulf, and a major West Gulf container load center. The Calcasieu Ship Channel provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico 34 miles (55 km) downstream. The ship channel intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway just north of Calcasieu Lake.
Public Transportation Lake Charles Transit provides five bus routes throughout the city which is also served by an intercity bus station and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train route.
Industry petrochemical plants, an oil refinery and facilities for LNG receipt, storage, and regasification are located along the Calcasieu Ship Channel. Local industry also includes companies which services airplanes and a facility which manufactures and exports parts for nuclear power plants.
Commerce Lake Charles serves as the shopping and retail hub for a five-parish area. The Cottage Shop District is home to a dozen small businesses and the L’Auberge du Lac Casino offers upscale boutiques.
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