5 Times Lafayette Was In The National Spotlight – The Good, Bad and Ugly
We just love our little corner of America. The food, fun and friendliness are just part of what makes our city such an amazing place to live. With all the good, there is sometimes bad and even ugly that happens in our city. Sometimes the headlines are so big they garner national attention. We will start with the good and work our way down and reflect on five times Lafayette was in the national scene.
It's really hard to put stock in surveys, but when you come out on top of a good list, it makes it much easier to believe. That was the case when Lafayette topped the charts as the happiest city in the United States, ahead of 4 other Louisiana cities in the top 5. The combination of gumbo, music an Cajun accents created an environment that rose above all other cities surveyed.
The eyes of America, as well as the world, focused on Lafayette after the disappearance of Lafayette native Mickey Shunick. Mickey was last seen riding her bike on surveillance and traffic cameras, but never arrived at her destination. Eventually, Brandon Scott Lavergne was arrested and found guilty of the murder of Mickey and is now serving out his sentence in prison.
In another sad time for our community, we were collectively rocked to the core upon hearing/seeing the news that there was a shooting at the Grand Theater on Johnston Street. Throughout the days, stories of sadness, confusion, and heroism were shared as the community coped with this tragic situation. The Grand temporarily closed during the investigation, and after months for mourning as well as renovations, the theater eventually reopened to the public.
Now, the ugly. It's great when national artists come and perform at the Cajundome, but when fans get a little too close, sometimes things can get heated...when the spouse of said-performer is also performing on stage. When one concert-goer decided to get themselves a 'handful' of Tim McGraw, his wife and fellow performer Faith Hill decided that someone needed to be corrected in front of the class.
In the college sports world, NCAA sanctions can break a college athletics program. Thus was the case in 1973 when the NCAA levied a 'Death Penalty' on the USL athletics program. USL was one of the first colleges in the south to actively recruit black athletes for their team. Covered in the book 'Slam Dunked' by Ron Gomez and the subject of a video 'Lights Out In Blackham', you can learn more about the story of Beryl Shipley and his battle with the Gulf States Conference and the NCAA, and what ultimately destroyed a powerhouse basketball program.