Port Wonder Family Fun Day offers sneak peek at what’s to come

Published 4:43 am Friday, June 2, 2023

A public sneak peek of the greatly anticipated Port Wonder will be hosted tomorrow, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Lake Charles Civic Center Contraband Room.

Port Wonder Family Fun Day is a community wide partnership, with involvement from the city, the Children’s Museum of Lakes Charles, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Calcasieu Parish School Board, to name a few. Allyson Montgomery, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana, said Southwest Louisiana came together to “give families an opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled day featuring STEM demonstrations, art activities and games. Children will be able to learn, create and play while parents learn more about Port Wonder’s development.”

Port Wonder – a $20 million-plus lakefront development project first announced in 2018 – will be the new home for the Children’s Museum, as well as the new Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Nature and Science Center.

There will be activities, exhibits and program sneak peeks for both, she said. The educational opportunities will be plentiful. “Our new home will give us a state-of-the-art facility designed to host more programming than ever before,” she said. “The community partners that have joined us to make this event possible will all work with the Children’s Museum in the future to offer special programs, workshops and camps in the future. We are so grateful for their support and collaboration.”

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This event was set up to get the public involved in lakefront development, said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter. “The goal of Port Wonder Family Day is to provide an opportunity for families to get an inside look at the transformation currently taking place on our lakefront,” said Hunter.

He said this was necessary, as the timelines for large projects such as this can be disheartening. “The process of getting from a project announcement to a grand opening can be a lengthy one on a project of this magnitude, but we want our community to know that Port Wonder is real and that it is coming.”

Port Wonder should open its doors in less than a year – May 2024.

“We have dreamed of redevelopment of our lake’s north shore for years and now we are making that dream a reality,” said Hunter. “From the day we announced this project there has been a buzz of excitement and we want to keep building on that up until we officially open the doors around this time next year.”

Lakefront Development Update

Construction is currently underway on Port Wonder. According to Hunter, the installation of underground utilities is almost complete. Next, contractors will begin work on framing up the slab.

Additionally, several concrete pours for the future parking lot for the property have been completed and construction is expected to go vertical in the coming months.

Port Wonder is just a portion of the development occurring on the lakefront. The parking garage is currently being rehabilitated

Within the next few months, Crying Eagle’s full service restaurant – which will be placed in between Port Wonder and the parking garage – will break ground.

Lake Area Adventures and Paul’s Ribshack are slated to be built on North Beach, west of the old Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters, he said. Parking improvements are also planned for North Beach.

For both Port Wonder and Lake Area Adventures, there are plans to build piers.

The current restroom facilities are on the docket to be demolished and replaced within the next few months.

To bide the time until these development projects are complete, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department installed pickleball courts, beach soccer goals and sand volleyball nets for the public.

Hunter also stated that North Beach’s accessibility is now more inclusive with the installation of ADA-compliant rollout mats on the eastern edge of the beach.