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Shreveport: Red River renaissance

Courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CTB

Many other famous musicians have performed in the Municipal Auditorium over the years. In addition to country music stars such as Hank Williams Sr., Charley Pride, Kitty Wells, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton who appeared on “Louisiana Hayride,” Sergei Rachmaninoff, Van Cliburn, Nat King Cole and Bob Dylan also performed in the auditorium.

Museum exhibits in the building, which were recently refurbished, contain memorabilia from many of the stars who have appeared there.

James Burton, a noted guitarist who played with Presley and others, operates a foundation across the street and will often walk over and visit with groups. Bronze statues of Burton and a young Presley stand in front of the entrance.

The auditorium is also famous for being haunted, and ghost tours are very popular, said Micheels.

Pettiet said another haunted site is one of two historic homes where she gives tours.

“The homes are private residences. The people living there have restored them and have opened them to tours by appointment,” she said. “The Logan Mansion is a late-19th-century Queen Anne Victorian that is just breathtaking on the inside.

“It is totally haunted; there are lots of stories. The lady who lives there tells all about them. They are friendly ghosts who don’t bother her, except when they lock her out. She gets testy then.”

The Davis Home Place is a 1916 foursquare filled with antiques. “She [the owner] hides all the TVs and phones; she wants it like you walked in during that age,” said Pettiet.

Laid-back Mardi Gras
Shreveport has three major parades during Mardi Gras in an atmosphere that is less crowded and raucous than that of New Orleans. The Gemini Krew, a krew — or private club — that sponsors one of the parades, also operates a Mardi Gras museum in Bossier City that has an extensive collection of elaborate costumes worn in the parades.

“They have dozens and dozens of costumes worn by royalty,” said Pettiet. “And you can walk through their float yard.”

Pettit likes to surprise groups by taking them to Tudd’s Hardware and Gifts in Bossier City after visiting the Mardi Gras museum.

“I say we are going to a hardware store, and the men say, ‘All right,’ and the women say, ‘What?’ However, it has come to be the best place in northwest Louisiana to shop for Mardi Gras beads and souvenirs. A third of the place is taken up with Mardi Gras stuff.”

Pettiet said a hidden gem in Shreveport is the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, which displays a large collection of European and American art in a contemporary building tucked in a tree-lined residential neighborhood.

The museum is especially noted for its large collection of works by Western artists Frederic Remington and Charles Russell.

Another world-class stop is the Gardens of the American Rose Center, North America’s largest rose garden and the headquarters of the American Rose Society.

“One of the things a lot of people don’t realize is this small office here in Shreveport-Bossier is the International Registry of Roses,” said Stacy Brown, president of the CTB. “All roses have to come through here.”

The gardens have more than 20,000 roses spread over 42 acres; among them are a garden with the nation’s newest rose varieties, an All-American rose garden, a miniature rose garden and a garden with single-petal roses only.

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