By Lisa J. Nicoletti
Krewe of Highland: Now Nourishing the Spirit—and Bellies—of Shreveport Year-Round
When Shreveport’s famous Krewe of Highland parade annually rolls the Sunday before Mardi Gras, people flock the streets for fun and a chance to catch weird throws and goodies, including bagged spaghetti, pickles, candy canes, and hot dogs, to name a few. This parade, the signature public event fulfilling the community-building mission of the Krewe, was enjoyed by an estimated 35,000 people this year. Starting this fall, the Krewe of Highland embarks on a leafy venture to permanently transform its parade-route neighborhoods, from Stoner Avenue to Ockley Drive, all year long.
The Krewe of Highland will begin a massive undertaking to beautify Highland Park and improve drought-ridden neighborhood medians. Along with ornamental bushes and maintenance-free groundcovers, over three-hundred fruit trees will be planted to revitalize Highland Park. The project couldn’t be more timely. The first part of the beautification plan, starting now, will be the controlled removal of dead and infected plants and trees scorched by summer heat. Replacement trees and plants are sorely needed, and the Krewe has a plan to keep them growing for generations.
To accomplish this massive feat spanning the Highland, South Highland, and Madison Park neighborhoods, the Krewe is collaborating with community partners and volunteers, including Smith’s Lawn and Landscape, Mayor Arceneaux’s office, Caddo Parish, Shreveport Public Assembly & Recreation (SPAR), and Boy Scouts of America Troop 15. Residents have also jumped on board to express their planting preferences and interest to adopt their local median improvements.
In addition to beautifying Highland Park, the targeted neutral ground areas, from north to south, include:
- The triangle at Marshall Street and Gilbert Drive
- Boulevard Street between Southern and Fairfield Avenues
- Robinson Place between Fairfield and Line Avenues
- Pinehurst Boulevard at Robinson Place
- Columbia Street between Thornhill and Line Avenues
- Kings Highway at Creswell Avenue
- Linden Street at Wheeless Avenue and the circle
- Madison Park Boulevard traffic circle
- Slattery Boulevard from Line to Creswell Avenues and Gilbert Drive to Madison Park Boulevard
- Gilbert Drive and Ockley Drive at the Bayou Pierre bridge
District 4 Commissioner and funding sponsor John-Paul Young has worked closely with the Krewe and landscape architects to maximize the project’s impact, especially on Highland Park. Highland Park’s revitalization is designed to allow healthy, free eating choices for all who choose to utilize the neighborhood park. Terraforming will be done in the park to ensure the project’s hundreds of fruit trees, including pear, fig, plum, and apple, will supply nourishing harvests.
To help the plantings flourish, Boy Scout Troop 15 will lend a lot of hands. The historic troop, nearly as old as the Boy Scouts of America, is already a great steward of Highland Park, where its Scout Hut is located. Scouts will look after the plantings until roots are well established. The revitalization project is a perfect fit, as Scouting teaches civic responsibility and a love for the outdoors. The Krewe of Highland and Troop 15 have deep roots. Two years ago, they partnered to add fifteen bald cypress trees to Highland Park, which are thriving and providing much-needed shade on steamy summer days.
Maybe as early as next spring, as fun-loving Krewe of Highland revelers toss local business merch, doubloons, and ramen from their eclectic floats, parade-goers will see the Krewe’s first fruit blossoms among stray hanging garlands of multicolored beads and smell the scents of a sweetly promising future in Shreveport.