The boardwalk on Lake Charles
|Celebrations||Parties, bands, entertainment|
|2014 date||April 29 – May 11|
|Related to||Mardi Gras|
Contraband Days is a 12-day festival filled with Cajun food, family fun, and festivities. Occurring annually in Lake Charles, it is among the larger celebrations in Louisiana, with an attendance of over 200,000. The Festival was first held in 1957.
Held during the first two weeks of May, Contraband Days is the city's official celebration of the legend of the pirate Jean Lafitte. History tells that Lafitte and his band of pirates frequented the area's waterways; they are said to have buried Lafitte's contraband somewhere in the city's vicinity.
The Contraband Days festivities kick off every year with a pirate ship bombardment to "take control of the city" at the seawall of the Lake Charles Civic Center. A gang of rowdy and unruly buccaneers and "Jean Lafitte" overruns the blazing cannons of the local militia. They then raise their "Jolly Roger" flag and capture the mayor by force with swords drawn and make the mayor walk the plank into the waters of the lake.
Thus begins the two-weeks of pageantry and festivities, which include:
- Evening parade
- Fireworks shows
- Carnival midway
- Entertainment on three stages
- Sailing regatta
- Cajun cuisine
- Beach games
- Thrill attractions
- Many fun-packed competitions, including bed races, bathtub races, and crawfish races
- Nationally-sanctioned speedboat races
- Family night
- "Lake Charles Contraband Days Pirate Festival". Visitlakecharles.org. 2013-05-12. Retrieved 2013-09-10.