Friendship Force of Baton Rouge holds ‘Welcome Party’

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
left to right: Charles Bennett, JoAnn Wall, Wally Taillon, Frances Bennett and Keith Corkern. (JoAnn Wall and Wally Taillon live in Gonzales.)

The Friendship Force of Baton Rouge received 14 guests from Auckland, New Zealand on Wednesday, April 22 for a visit of one week. The Welcome Party was held that night at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Jambalaya and white beans were prepared and donated by Wally Taillon with the Jambalaya Festival Association. Friendship Force members brought appetizers. Dessert was a beautiful cake decorated with “Welcome New Zealanders” on it. Les Danseurs de la Capitale de Baton Rouge entertained the guests and hosts alike with their program of Cajun Dancing. They taught the guests some basic steps and let them try out their newfound skill. They even tried playing some of the Cajun musical instruments. Everyone was invited to dance to the Cajun Waltz Train.

Thursday, the group met with Mayor Holden and received Mayor’s Certificates and raised the New Zealand flag on the International flagpole. They toured the Capitol Park Museum and the State Capitol. Other activities included visiting Gator Chateau in Jennings, Festival International in Lafayette, St. Joseph Plantation in Vacherie and West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen. A Southern Magnolia tree was planted in their honor in the Friendship Force Forest at J. S. Clark Memorial Park. The New Zealand made a donation to Baton Rouge Green who planted the tree. The visit ended with a Louisiana Crawfish Boil. Exchange Directors for the Baton Rouge Club were Barbara Wittkopf and Thornton Cofield and Exchange Director for New Zealand was Laurie Holloway.

Home hosting for the visitors were: Lin Ashton, Keith Corkern, Gayle and Bob Duncan, Linda and Darwin Knochenmus, Jean and Howard Merrill, Karen Pharis, Karen and Art Vingiello and Barbara Wittkopf and Thornton Cofield.