Josh Ledet speaks to members of the media during a news conference Friday at Chennault International. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, May 13, 2012 4:56 PM
Local officials have spent the past week, or longer, planning for a Joshua Ledet weekend that they weren’t even sure was going to happen.
“We’ve barely seen our offices,” said Jason Barnes, special programs and cultural affairs coordinator for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.
All their planning proved necessary when the Westlake native reached the top three in “American Idol.”
Today, the 20-year-old with the gospel music voice will mark his return to Southwest Louisiana as the star of a parade in Westlake and a pep rally at Burton Coliseum.
The parade along Sampson Street begins at noon and Ledet will perform at Burton at 6 p.m. (The doors there open at 4 p.m.)
For a copy of the parade route, click here.
Once it was announced on Thursday night’s “American Idol” that Ledet would be returning home, 7,900 free tickets for the pep rally went fast — handed out in under an hour at both the McNeese State University field house and in Westlake.
No one will be allowed into Burton Coliseum without a ticket, Barnes said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a sellout crowd,” said Jared Lebleu, general manager of the facility.
>Lebleu said that the largest crowds that Burton handles these days are McNeese graduations, which draw between 6,500 to 7,000 people.
Although he didn’t have an exact number on largest attendance, he said “the rodeo used to always max out capacities in the ’80s and early ’90s.”
At the Managan Center in Westlake, Chris Wilrye estimated that 4,000 people were turned away without tickets.
Because so many people didn’t get tickets, a live feed of the Burton Coliseum event will be shown 6-8 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center, said Angie Manning, communications director with the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. That will cost the $5 gate fee to enter Contraband Days, she said.
Ledet is also scheduled to make an appearance at the festival later that evening.
Even though it wasn’t known whether Ledet would return home, officials were planning as if he would. There has been meeting after meeting, officials have said, sometimes reaching 50 people from various entities and organizations from around the area.
“We really don’t know what to expect,” Westlake Mayor Dan Cupit said. “We don’t know how many fans he has here that will come and we don’t know how many will come from out of town. It’s all brand new to us.”
Because Ledet is the first Louisiana “Idol” contestant to reach the top three, he’s also the first to receive a homecoming.
“We don’t know (how many people will turn out),” said Kaylen Fletcher, public relations manager with the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From the past host cities, it averages about 15,000, but this is the first time for us and for the state of Louisiana.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau has been pushing for a Ledet homecoming, promoting the vote.
Still, Fletcher said, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is used to working in a more extended time frame.
“We like to plan events a month in advance. It gives you time to set everything up,” Fletcher said. “It’s really hard to plann anything in a week.”
• Both events will be family-friendly and alcohol-free.
• Parade begins at noon at Managan Center and travels to Westlake High School.
• The parking lot of Burton Coliseum opens at 10 a.m. and doors open at 4 p.m.
• Zydeco artists Brandon Ledet, who is Josh's cousin, and Terrance Simien will begin performing at 4:30 p.m.
• Josh Ledet’s performance will begin at 6 p.m.
• You must have a ticket to enter Burton Coliseum.
• All tickets are general admission.
• The stage will be on the north end of the Coliseum.
• A live feed of the pep rally at Burton Coliseum will be shown at the Lake Charles Civic Center. While the viewing is free, there is a $5 charge to enter Contraband Days.
• Ledet is scheduled to make an appearance at Contraband Days late in the evening, probably during the firework display.
• For a copy of the parade route, click here.
Posted By: Kim Favorite On: 5/12/2012
Title: New Orleans Fan
New Orleans is very proud of Joshua Ledet also. I vote for two hours every week!