LAFAYETTE — Two months after uncertainty and fear flooded their lives, the community of Butte La Rose is throwing a party.
And everyone is invited.
On July 23, the “Back to the Butte Musical Celebration” will feature seven bands, activities for kids and a visit from “Swamp People” celebrity Mike Kliebert. The party spot is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel and the Volunteer Fire Department the event’s sponsor. The event is free, but doubles as a fundraiser for both groups.
“We’re trying to give our community and Butte La Rose a day to relax and be blessed that none of us suffered major damage from the flood,” said Gary Simon, the event organizer.
In May, the St. Martin Parish community along the Atchafalaya River was threatened by the diversion of Mississippi River water when the Morganza Spillway was opened.
Butte La Rose was spared from the flood, but many in this small St. Martin Parish community faced financial hardship in evacuating their homes.
“Since the flood, people are having a hard time getting back on their feet,” said Desiree Thomas, a Butte La Rose resident and captain of its volunteer fire department.
The fire department has held a food drive and distributed groceries to residents after learning some of them were struggling.
The fire department will be selling food with proceeds directed to its community outreach services.
“We just want people to come out and have fun,” Thomas said. “This event is not as much about us making money as people coming out and enjoying the music and being with each other.”
The day will also mark the first time that Mass is celebrated in Butte La Rose since the flood scare. Because the church was stripped of its pews and statues in preparation for high water, the church parish opted to begin needed renovations to the chapel.
Funds raised from the sale of drinks and other items will help defray the estimated $20,000 in updates and evacuation moving costs, said Simon, parish council president of the chapel’s sponsoring church, Our Lady of Mercy in Henderson.
The Catholic Church began its outreach in the rural community in 1927 with the current chapel opening in 1974, Simon said.
Some of the work includes new flooring, and a new altar and tabernacle.
The “Back to the Butte” Mass will be held outdoors. The public will have an opportunity to see the renovations during the event. The chapel will reopen with a 3 p.m. Mass on July 30.
Residents are thankful for the return of weekly masses closer to home, Thomas said.
“Being a small community, every Mass the church is full to capacity and people are standing in the back,” said Thomas, who is also a parishioner. “The people love their church and depend on it being there.”