Legislative spouses tour Houmas House

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor

Members of the Louisiana Legislative Spouses' Auxiliary gathered for a tour of Houmas House Plantation & Gardens in Darrow. It's a tradition of the organization to take a fun road trip within the state while their lawmaker spouses are in session.

The event took place April 17, hosted by Phoebe Schexnayder of Gonzales, wife of state Rep. Clay Schexnayder of District 81; Paula Berthelot of Gonzales, wife of state Rep. Johnny Berthelot of District 88; and, Judge Marilyn Lambert of Gonzales, wife of state Rep. Eddie Lambert of District 59.

Ascension Parish Tourism Director Tracy Browning provided the group with gift bags filled with goodies, including a map of the area and discount coupons to the Tanger Outlet Center in Gonzales.

Schexnayder said several of the women in the group came from North Louisiana; many in the group had never been to Ascension Parish.

"I wanted them to see what all Ascension Parish has to offer," she said. "Once they do, they'll want to come back again and bring their friends."

With their spouses conducting the business of the state, the club began their tour viewing a short film about the plantation's history. They then strolled through the gardens taking pictures, marveling at the gigantic oak trees.

Kathy Morrish of Jennings, wife of state Sen. Blade Morrish of District 25, said the trees were her favorites.

"I was amazed at the size of the trees," she said. "The tour guide said some are 500 and 600 years old, and they can live to be 1,000 years old."

Michelle Johns of Lake Charles, wife of state Sen. Ronnie Johns of District 27, said she, too, loved the gardens at Houmas House.

"The gardens and the flowers are my favorites," she said during sightseeing trip.

Nina Martiny of Metarie, wife of state Sen. Danny Martiny of District 10, said the plantation house was her favorite at Houmas House.

"I loved the old furniture and belongings inside the house," she said. "I guess you would call them period pieces."

Everyone agreed tour guide Susan Harris, dressed in clothing from the period, was entertaining as well as informative.

"My tours are just a little bit different," she said jokingly.

Many of the guests said they would be back and would request Harris as their tour guide.

Karen Hazel of Pineville, wife of state Rep. Chris Hazel of District 27, said she also enjoyed the tour and the gardens.

"This is my first time here," she said. "The grounds are just gorgeous!"

Following the tour, the spouses attended a luncheon at Houmas House, sponsored by Louisiana Oil and Gas. Lunch included their choice of either a scrumptious chicken salad featuring charbroiled chicken on a large bed of greens, or a turkey and brie sandwich served with sweet potato fries. A large slice of tasty cheesecake was served for dessert.

Among those enjoying the gathering were Kim Allain of Franklin, wife of state Sen. Bret Allain II of District 21; Linda Crowe of Slidell, wife of state Sen. A.G. Crowe of District 1; Rose Long of Winnfield, wife of Gerald Long of District 31; Marilyn Thompson of Delhi, wife of state Sen. Francis Thompson of District 34; Kim Abramson of New Orleans, wife of state Rep. Neil Abramson of District 98; Sandy Burford of Stonewall, wife of state Rep. Richard Burford of District 7; Rhonda Connick of Marrero, wife state Rep. Patrick Connick of District 84; Daphne Danahay of Sulphur, wife of state Rep. Michael Danahay of District 33; Tonya Foil of Baton Rouge, wife of state Rep. Franklin Foil of District 70; Joan Garofalo of Chalmette, wife of state Rep. Raymond Garofalo Jr. of District 103; Charlotte LeBas of Ville Platte, wife of state Rep. Harvey LeBas of District 38; Michelle Lorusso of New Orleans, wife of state Rep. Nick Lorusso of District 94; Sandra Montoucet of Crowley, wife of state Rep. Jack Montoucet of District 42; Pat Pope of Denham Springs, wife of state Rep. J. Rogers Pope of District 71; Martha Reynolds of Minden, wife of state Rep. Gene Reynolds of District 10; Sherry Wilmott of Kenner, wife of state Rep. Tom Willmott of District 92; Donna Edwards of Amite, wife of state Rep. John Bel Edwards of District 72; Jennifer Boutwell; Jennifer Boutwell of Gretna, girlfriend of state Rep. Bryan Adams of District 85; and, their invited guests.

Laurie Kleckley of Lake Charles, wife of Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley of District 36, said this was her first visit to Houmas House. She said it was difficult to choose what she liked best about it.

"I don't know what part of today's visit was my favorite," she said. "I just loved everything!"