It was less than three months ago when former LSU player Mike Hillman and Andrew Martin were having a cup of coffee and the subject of Coach “O” came up. He had just been named head football coach of the LSU Tigers and a celebration was in order. Ideas were discussed as to whether it should be held in Baton Rouge or on the bayou.
Their consensus: “I'm sure we could get quite a few people to attend if we held it here; after all, ‘Baba’ is from the bayou. He’s one of us!”
A few phone calls were made and a couple of meetings took place locally. The reaction to the idea was very positive. Right after Christmas a committee was formed and Coach “O” Day was born. The group soon learned that the only date “Baba” was available was February 17, from 6 p.m. to midnight. Wow! That didn’t leave much time for planning.
The committee pressed on forming a tax-exempt corporation registered with the state of Louisiana so that if there were any monies left over after expenses it could be donated to Coach Orgeron's favorite charity. The group decided this would be a good time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1977 State Championship game where South Lafourche High School beat Bonnabel by a score of 21 to 20, a team on which Coach O played. This would also be an opportunity to retire the South Lafourche High School jersey worn by “Baba”.
The Larose Civic Center was selected as the place to hold the banquet. The goal was to sell 20 sponsor tables and about 300 individual tickets. The first press release went out January 13, 2017 and the ticket purchases began.
The response has been overwhelming. Within the first three weeks the board members knew they “had a tiger by the tail”. Ticket sales were going through the roof. It was obvious they had to move the event outside under the pavilion even though it would be in mid-February.
“Baba” was contacted about the meal and said he wanted gumbo, fried shrimp, jambalaya, white beans & rice. He instructed the committee to give whatever money remained after expenses to local charities and non-profit organizations. He was thrilled to hear of the community's reaction to this event.
On Monday, ticket sales ended. It appears that more than 1,300 people have purchased tickets. To help with the large crowds, there will be several Sheriff's deputies directing traffic and assisting with parking around the Civic Center.
Since it may take a bit of time for this many people to enter the pavilion, find their pre-assigned table, and get a drink, there will be numerous volunteers on hand directing attendees. Two large bars will be set up inside and restrooms are available just outside the pavilion. Once the program begins after the invocation, posting of colors, and playing of the national anthem, the attendees will be asked to form lines at one of the three available buffet stations so they can be served their Cajun feast. Tea, water and dessert will be on the tables.
Please be patient and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The speakers will be entertaining, there will be a few surprises, and of course the highlight of the evening will be hearing from Coach “O”.
Local artist Mike Pitre was commissioned to make a special poster to commemorate the evening that Coach “O” has signed. All ticket-holders will get a signed copy when they leave. Due to the massive crowd, no items will be allowed in for Coach “O” to autograph. The entire event will be taped and televised by HTV and a host of newspaper reporters, columnists, and TV stations will be represented at the banquet.
The South Lafourche community is proud to honor Coach Ed “Baba” Orgeron and his family with this special event. Thousands of dollars will be given back to the charities and non-profit organizations in this area through grants. Applications will be made available in the coming weeks.
Thank you everyone for being such a generous and receptive community. Finally, we have a head coach we can understand!
Posted on Tue, February 14, 2017
by Larry Weidel, Contributing Writer