A scene from last years inaugural Boilin for the Bridges.
  • Re-Bridge
  • A scene from last year's inaugural Boilin' for the Bridges.

The nice weather last weekend inspired a lot of picnics along Bayou St. John, and it was clear by the way people were huddled around tables out there on the grassy banks that many of them involved crawfish. Next week, on Saturday, March 31, a community crawfish boil will double as a fundraiser for a project aimed at fixing up an important symbol of the bayou itself.

The second annual Boilin’ for the Bridges will see some 700 pounds of spicy crawfish dispatched as a benefit for Re-Bridge, a nonprofit formed to help rehab of a pair of historic bayou bridges.

“Tons and tons of crawfish, Abita beer, and a lot of people getting together for a cause,” says Rachel Dangermond, chair of the committee behind the Re-Bridge effort, by way of explaining the event. Abita, a sponsor, is providing kegs for the pay-one-price, all-you-can-eat party.

The Magnolia Bridge dates to the late 19th century.
  • Re-Bridge
  • The Magnolia Bridge dates to the late 19th century.

The group is out to restore the Magnolia Bridge, an ironwork span dating to the late 19th century that Re-Bridge members believe may be the oldest existing bridge in the city. Closed to traffic since the 1970s, the Magnolia Bridge is often used for grassroots gatherings and commemorations or simply as a perch to enjoy the bayou.

It’s suffered from neglect, and rust is taking a toll on the structure. Re-Bridge is raising local dollars to match federal transportation funds awarded for the Magnolia Bridge repair last year, and Boilin’ for the Bridges is one of its tools.

“This is a very important bridge not just to people in the neighborhood but to people all over the city,” Dangermond says.

Re-Bridge is also working on restoration of the Dumaine Bridge, a short roadway span built nearby in 1951 that is also in need of repair. The group is working with City Hall for this part of the project.

The boil is held at the private home of a Re-Bridge supporter on Maurepas Street in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood, a few blocks from the bayou, and it begins at 3 p.m. on March 31. Admission is $30 for adults, $5 for kids under age 10. Get tickets and details at www.rebridge.org.