OPELOUSAS, LA (KADN)- After a successful firework show in Opelousas on the 4th of July, local officials are hoping to change the narrative of St. Landry parish.
Jessie Bellard, the St. Landry parish president, said that for years there has been a negative view of the parish due to crime rates.
“When we decided to do this firework display, a bunch of people called us and you’re going have 50 fights where you're going have shootings, you're going to have everything. And I'm telling them, no,” Bellard said.
The president said that he was happy to prove naysayers wrong about the parish’s 4th of July celebration.
“We see a good future coming about. And it's just a matter of time now before things start exploding around here,” Bellard said.
According to Bellard, more people have been moving into the parish and he hopes it stays that way.
“We're going to accept them into our parish with open arms, and we're going to embrace our culture and make sure that they understand what our culture is here and our parish,” he said.
The St. Landry Parish government offices sit right in the heart of downtown Opelousas. The president believes that the city plays a huge role in redefining the parish.
“If your seat fails, then everything else falls. So, we are pushing hard to keep things up here,” he said.
Eva Noel, the manager of Java Square Café, says that she has noticed new faces in the downtown area and that alone brings her hope.
“They are small businesses coming up on just about every corner, within this sector so that's exciting to see that people are actually starting to be more business-minded more,” Noel said.
Noel agrees that downtown Opelousas can change the negative outlook of the parish,
“Give us a chance, you know, embrace us, you know, we have our negative but that's everywhere,” she said.