January, so often a slow time for tourism in Louisiana and elsewhere, will get a nice boost next month when participants from both sides of the Atlantic converge on New Orleans to mark the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans.
That’s welcome news, but beyond January’s festivities, the bicentennial also has inspired a more permanent legacy for the area — a “living history” park in Chalmette that will serve as an enduring reminder of the battle and its impact on world history.
The 20-acre plot next to Torres Park will host visitors throughout the year. Supporters plan to stage yearly re-enactments of the battle in the new park, which also will serve other recreational needs for visitors. The Joseph & Arlene Meraux Charitable Foundation agreed to lease the property to a support group for the park for $1 a year — an act of generosity for which residents around the state should be grateful.
Organizers broke ground on the park this month. It should be ready in time for a bicentennial re-enactment of the battle, which began on Jan. 8, 1815, when 7,500 British soldiers marched against 4,500 U.S. troops led by Gen. Andrew Jackson. Jackson led his troops to victory, his success eventually propelling him into the presidency. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, had been signed two weeks before the battle, but the news had not yet crossed the Atlantic.
The Battle of New Orleans helped to affirm America’s stature as an emerging international power. We’re glad that a new park will help mark this turning point for future generations.