River Views: River Parishes to celebrate Independence Day on July 3 _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--New River Parish columnist Lori Lyons in New Orleans, La. Monday, April 20, 2015.

Destrehan High student Hailey Rico recently led a “Swamp Sweep” at the Wetlands Watchers Park in Norco for her senior project.

The sweep included a huge coordinated effort by community volunteers to collect trash along the lake and bayou shorelines, as well as along the nature trails. Fifty-six community volunteers collected 14 huge piles of trash and garbage. Most of the volunteers were students from Harry Hurst Middle School and Destrehan High, who kept a tally of the trash collected.

Students found that aluminum cans and plastic bottles constituted most of the items picked up. Some unexpected items included used barbecue pits and many single shoes. The volunteers were most distressed by the number of dirty disposable diapers thrown on the ground along the nature trail and near the outdoor classrooms.

“I am so proud of Hailey,” said Wetland Watchers coordinator Barry Guillot, a teacher at Hurst Middle. “She was a great Wetland Watchers volunteer in middle school, and I am glad she chose to focus her senior project on cleaning up along our wetlands.”

Rico coordinated her project with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation’s Beach Sweep, attending meetings as the region’s zone captain. All tallied trash totals that volunteers collected will be included in the statistics for the International Coastal Clean-up.

“I’m very happy and thankful for everybody that came out and supported my senior project. It went very well,” Rico said. “The kids did a great job. It was nice seeing younger kids volunteering their time on the weekend to come out and help their community. I think it is important for kids to help their community as much as possible.

“Picking up litter is probably one of the best ways because it doesn’t only help beautify the park, but it also helps save the lives of many animals as well. I hope that the kids had as much fun as I did.”

According to Joann Haydel, education coordinator for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Rico’s project worked in conjunction with 1,890 volunteers who picked up 895 bags of trash.

“That translates into 15,215 pounds of trash that will not wash into our beautiful Lake Pontchartrain,” Haydel said.

Destrehan Fall Festival

The 44th annual Destrehan Plantation Fall Festival will take place on the grounds of the historic Destrehan Plantation, 13034 River Road, Destrehan, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The event features dozens of craft booths, food booths and live entertainment. The Reed Alleman Band will perform from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Summer Breeze will play from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, and the Topcats will play from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults and teens. Children under 12 are admitted free. All proceeds from admission fees benefit the nonprofit organization River Road Historical Society and its site expansion at Destrehan Plantation.

River Parishes Fall Festival

The annual River Parishes Fall Festival will be held this weekend on the grounds of Sacred Heart School and Church, 453 Spruce St., Norco. Fair hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The church festival features carnival rides, food (including the famous Monster Soft Shell Crab Po-Boy) and a craft show. A 5K fun run and walk will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The annual Queen of Hearts Pageant will be held at noon Sunday. The band schedule includes Nashville South at 7 p.m. Friday; Off the Hook at 3 p.m. Saturday; and Karma at 7 p.m. Saturday. Giacomo will play at 3 p.m. Sunday, and the Phunky Monkeys will close things out at 7 p.m. Sunday.