Families and boaters flocked to False River in Pointe Coupee Parish on Memorial Day weekend for a much-needed chance to get outside following nearly two months being cooped up during the coronavirus lockdown.

Memorial Day tends to be the largest boating event along the oxbow lake in Pointe Coupee, and those who took to the choppy waters on Monday say it was a welcome respite after being sequestered inside for so long.

“We come out here every year,” said Jude Callais, 16, of Plaquemine, while pulling his boat out of the water at the public landing in New Roads following a day of wake boarding. "I've been coming to this lake my whole life." 

Like many Louisianans, he too has been pining to get out and didn't want to miss this annual tradition  after the state loosened its lockdown restrictions on May 15.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' Phase 1 reopening order allows for outdoor activities like boating. Public health officials still caution people to take precautions such as avoiding large gatherings, wearing a mask and keep a physical distance from others while out.

With the ability to get out to the lake, Bob Gaylor, of Zachary, brought his family to watch the boats zip by as his children fished from a dock.

Like many of those who took to the lake during the holiday weekend, the Gaylor family kept their outing limited to immediate family and kept hand sanitizer at the ready.

Danielle Gaylor said the past few months of helping her 6- and 9-year-old children finish the school year at home has had its ups and downs.

"I never wanted to be a teacher, but all of a sudden I had to be," she said with a laugh.

But getting out of the house and onto the lake was a well-needed break, Gaylor and her husband said.

"You can't stay cooped up forever," Bob Gaylor said. "Sooner or later you got to get out and get to it."

Though fewer people took to the lake Monday amid forecasts for rainstorms, about 100 boaters pulled into the pier in New Roads on Sunday to have their vessels blessed by a pair of priests during the Kiwanis of Pointe Coupee Blessing of the Boats event.

The event has taken place at the Public Landing in New Roads for the past three decades and includes a remembrance ceremony for fallen service members.

Because of the existing restrictions and safety concerns, organizers pushed back their ceremony until Veterans Day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Kenneth St. Romain, the group's chairman, said he was glad to see life slowly coming back along the lake.

“Hopefully the restaurants and businesses will return to normal,” he said. “We’ll do our best with what we got.”

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com, and follow him on Twitter @youssefrddad