Happy birthday, America! Again.

Today, of course, is the Fourth, but we celebrated Saturday at the Houma Independence Day Celebration. And Sunday, we enjoyed the Patriotic Concert of the Houma-Terrebonne Community Band, indoors.

Tons of locals turned out for the Saturday celebration organized by the Terrebonne Patriots, but most of them came late, in time for the 6 p.m. veterans program, or even later for the fireworks.

Vendors said they did little business between the 3 p.m. opening and 5 p.m. The consensus was that there were not enough activities to draw crowds out into the parking lot heat. They may be right, but the parade that formerly rolled from the court square to the civic center was discontinued because planners felt too few locals turned out for it. The absence of skydivers and a jet flyover, once parts of the celebration, may also have made a difference.

One vendor wondered whether hot dog-, watermelon- or ice cream-eating contests might draw crowds to the celebration. Or competition between volunteer fire departments, possibly involving fire hoses and lots of water.


Problems: Independence Day is largely the work of volunteers. Any added contest would need sponsors to cover the costs and organizing volunteers to bring them off. Somehow, recent Independence Day activities have not been overwhelmed by volunteers.

A planning framework involving separate organizations with their own sponsors and volunteers responsible for each added activity might work. Volunteer fire chiefs, for example, might plan and man a fire hose demonstration and battle meshed into the day's schedule.

Some food vending booths already use organizational volunteers. Local Terrebonne retired teachers, for example, have for several years manned a booth thatsells chili Fritos, cheese nachos and dill pickles. The supplies are furnished by the Patriots, often donated by local businesses. The retirees work in shifts to fill orders. Customers pay with tickets purchased at a separate volunteer table.

Proceeds go entirely to the Patriots. The teachers regard it as giving back to the community and to the veterans whose service keeps us free. Other private vendors have their own arrangements with the Patriots, providing their own supplies and labor and sharing the profits.


Start now: If your organization is up to contributing to next year's Fourth of July, get started. It will take time to clear your planned contest or whatever with a sponsor, with your potential volunteers and with the Patriots, the umbrella organizing agency.

And suggestions of changes or still other activities are certainly welcome, but it takes far more than a good idea. Most suitable activities involve sponsors, strong year-long commitments and a host of volunteers. Most of all, don't expect a profit. The satisfaction of doing your little part for a big community event will have to be enough.


A little favor? Internet pirates have struck again. This time it's personal. Dozens of friends, relatives and associates of my wife last week received this email: “How are you? I need a favor from you.

“I need to get an iTunes gift card for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling. Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this. Thanks, Lynn Ellzey.”

A total scam. She was not traveling. Her nieces no longer have birthdays. Friends who “replied” to the request found themselves communicating with the scammer, who had somehow substituted his email address in the automatic “reply” feature. The scammer thought a $300 gift to the “niece” would be appropriate.

The friend was too smart to bite. If you received the same email, beware. The scammer pretending to be my wife has no intention of repaying the “little favor.”


Dance: Ronnie Plaisance and St. Bernard plays for the Community Dance of Lockport, planned for 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the fire station, 806 Crescent Avenue Blvd. Entry is $10 a person. Bring your own drinks and snacks. Doors open at 1.


Figs: The season is winding down, but by refrigerating several day's pickings, we accumulated enough for a respectable batch of preserves.


Responding? Contact Bill Ellzey at 381-6256, at ellzey@viscom.net, billellzey312@gmail.com or c/o The Courier, P.O. Box 2717, Houma, LA 70361.