John F. Kennedy Spoke Here While Visiting Lake Charles
In October of 1959, then Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, visited Lake Charles. JFK was invited by local officials to give a dinner speech on the tenth floor of the Pioneer Building, which is now City Hall.
Earlier that day, he spoke to thousands of Louisiana residents during a stop at the Rice Festival in Crowley.
Several months after his visit to Lake Charles, JFK announced his candidacy for President of the United States. In November of 1960, he won that election and became the 35th President. Many believed his stop in Southwest Louisiana helped him get elected.
Today, you can visit the spot where he and his wife visited with lake area residents. It is located near the City Hall entrance on Pujo St. in downtown Lake Charles. A simple plaque is placed there, which reads:
“On this site on Friday, October 16, 1959, Senator John F. Kennedy, then widely regarded as a 1960 presidential hopeful, ended a two-day visit to Louisiana with a dinner speech to a packed Pioneer Club audience of more than 300 people. He came to Lake Charles at the invitation of District Attorney Eddie Shaheen and was accompanied by his wife “Jackie.” Senator Kennedy spoke of the need to prepare our nation for 50 years of competition with the Soviet Union. He stressed the risks of reliance on nuclear weapons that could only be used in an all-out war. Earlier that day he spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at the Rice Festival in Crowley.”
If you are a history buff like me, stop by and take a look at the marker.