Monday, November 17, 2014
By Elizabeth Eustis

Southwest Louisiana has planned so many parades, concerts, fireworks, and food events for Christmas this year, it is definitely the place to be to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. With this abundance of holiday cheer, choosing an event is going to be hard! Attending as many holiday happenings as I can, might become my newest Christmas tradition!

Photo by Lindsey Janies Photography
My mother in law and I kick off our holidays with the Junior League of Lake Charles’ annual Mistletoe and Moss Holiday Market (Nov. 20-22). Those ladies know how to throw a shopping party. I am thinking this year for another shopping treat, we’ll visit Sulphur’s Holiday House (Dec. 5-6), too. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like finding the perfect gifts for my family and friends. And, maybe we’ll even see that “snow” that magically falls at Christmas Under the Oaks (Dec. 5-6).

Photo by MonsoursPhotography.net
Once the presents are wrapped and nestled under the tree; it’s time for a parade! Living in downtown Lake Charles, my family has gone to the Light up the Lake Christmas Celebration (Dec. 6) for years. In fact, we used to decorate and string up dozens of multi-colored Christmas lights around our sailboat and participate in the lighted boat parade. It is such a special and unique parade-if you haven’t been-you need to go! But there are a total of eight parades this year, so I might have to head over to DeQuincy’s “Deck the Halls” (Dec. 5) or Vinton’s “Cajun Christmas” (Dec. 12) to see how they welcome Santa to town.

Speaking of Santa, one of my favorite memories growing up is sitting on Santa’s lap and listing all of the toys and sometimes animals (you know you asked for a pony too!) that I wanted for Christmas. I’ll be making my way over to Westlake for Breakfast with Santa (Dec. 13) to see if Santa can bring me that Kate Spade bag I saw the other day at Stiletto. I hope he can! If not then at least I got some hot pancakes.
There are just so many wonderful activities going on this season, including some beautiful performances like The Nutcracker (Dec. 11-14) and The Little Drummer Boy (Dec. 13); so there is no reason to sit at home. Also, stop by the Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1205 N. Lakeshore Drive, to view the entries for the annual Gingerbread House contest (Dec. 6-30). Be sure to vote for your favorite creation!

Plan your Christmas fun by visiting www.visitlakecharles.org/cajunchristmas for a complete listing of holiday events throughout Southwest Louisiana.

Monday, November 10, 2014
By Angie Kay Dilmore

How often have you driven down I-10 West and seen signs for Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino? Have you been there? Recently, I went for the opening day of Thoroughbred Season. Being newbies to Louisiana horse racing, my husband Bob and I were excited!

Photo by www.lindseyjanies.com
The first step at horse racing is to buy an Official Program. This booklet tells you all about the races, information about the horses, their odds of winning, the names of owners, trainers, jockeys, and lineage. There is also information about each horse’s racing history, weight of the jockey, and more data than I can understand or need to know!

Program photo by Angie Kay Dilmore

For some, horse racing is serious business. I saw people there who sat intently with their pens and programs and pored over the pages, studied the stats, made notes in the margins, and obviously put considerable thought into their betting.

How did I pick a horse to bet on? Whichever horse had the prettiest name, of course!


Soon after we arrived, the first race was about to start. Post time 5:55 p.m. We quickly purchased our program and scanned the horses slated for Race 1. Horse number 8, Lovely in Lavender, sounded like a winner to me. Never mind the odds were 15-1. It was early in the evening and I felt lucky. 

Photo by www.lindseyjanies.com
Minimum bet is $2.00. I’m such a big spender; I bet $3.00 for number 8 to show (1st or 2nd place). She came in 7th. Out of 10 horses. Maybe rooting for the underdog isn’t the best idea in horse racing.
The horse and jockey were muddy after the race.
Photo by Angie Kay Dilmore

So we went to The Lookout Restaurant for dinner. They specialize in fine dining, steaks and seafood. The south wall is all windows and overlooks the racetrack. There is also a balcony where you can watch the races, and a convenient betting window, so diners don’t miss the fun and excitement of a single race.

Photo by Angie Kay Dilmore
Most of our bets resulted in similar outcomes to that first race. After two or three races, I started considering the odds and checking “Don’s Picks” on the television screens. He seems to have a pretty good track record. 

Eventually, I picked a favorite and bet $3.00 for the horse to place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd). And he came in second! Yay, I won something! I went to the betting window to cash in my ticket. The return was $3.90. I netted .90 cents.

We weren’t big winners that night, but it didn’t matter. Win or lose, horse racing is fun and entertaining. There’s a certain thrill, trying to guess which horse will win and watching him race around the track. Your eyes focus on the color of his silk (the cloth that identifies his number). You cheer him on as he thunders by; go, Go GO! It’s especially exciting if you watch from the fence beside the track. You smell the horses’ sweat and adrenaline. You hear them pant, snort, and battle it out for first place. Their hooves kick up the dust and pound out a competitive beat; and your own heart drums a little bit faster.


Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel is located in the quiet town of Vinton, near the border of Texas. Watch Thoroughbred racing every Wednesday through Saturday evenings, October 15- March 14, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The resort sits on 240 acres of Louisiana countryside, the perfect setting for an evening’s entertainment, a weekend getaway, or a fun-packed vacation. 

In addition to live horse racing, they offer off-track betting, over 1,450 slots, live entertainment, modern hotel rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and five restaurants, from fast food to fine dining. Meeting and convention facilities are also available. For more information, go to www.deltadowns.com.

To read more of Angie's adventures, check out her blog, angiekaydilmore.blogspot.com.

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