Classic Club tours New Orleans on recent trip


The Classic Club of Simmons First National Bank recently returned from a trip to New Orleans, according to club director, Misti A. Smykla.

Upon arrival, the group enjoyed a casual dinner at Piccadilly’s Restaurant before checking in to the newly renovated Ramada Inn Metairie. The next morning, the group toured the National World War II Museum, where they experienced the 4-D presentation of the WWII Museum production of the documentary film, “Beyond All Boundaries.” The fast-expanding museum had a special Prisoner of War temporary exhibit that was especially gripping. Many travelers said visiting the museum alone was worth the trip. Having two WWII veterans and the widow of a WWII POW on the trip made the experience even more meaningful.

The next stop was lunch and shopping at The River Walk where the world-famous “The World,” the residences-at-sea yacht, was docked. It turns out, a handful of Pine Bluffians were on board. Next up was a wonderful guided tour of New Orleans, where the group took in the best of New Orleans, including a wonderful education on the architecture, a vast history lesson on the city, celebrities’ neighborhoods, New Orleans’ largest cemetery, the city park and its sculpture garden, Jackson Square and the French Quarter, and beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde. The evening was capped off with dinner at the Crescent City Brewhouse and free time in the French Quarter.

The next morning, the group toured the Destrehan Plantation — the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley. Built in 1787 on the banks of the Mississippi River and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has housed past empires of indigo, sugar, and petrochemical production. The plantation’s grounds are decorated with tremendous Live Oak trees (which are hundreds of years old), draped in an abundance of Spanish moss. For lunch and free time, the group headed to the French Quarter. After a chance to freshen up, the Classic Club members and guests attended an evening of dinner, dancing, and live jazz music by The Gumbo Trio — including the traditional napkin-waving march to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Upon returning to the hotel, several of the travelers were still having too much fun to turn in and met in the dining room for card-playing and fellowship.

The next day, some of the group headed to Harrah’s Casino (which opens to the French Quarter) while others used the morning for sight-seeing and shopping in the French Quarter. Later, after listening to the Nachez’ famous Calliope concert, the group boarded New Orleans’ one-of-a-kind sternwheel steamboat, the SS Natchez. While cruising the Mighty Mississippi on this historical tour of the city, the group learned about and saw the Domino sugar refinery — the second largest in the world, historical plantations, tremendous barges and international ships, and even had glimpses into the Hurricane Katrina-devastated lower ninth ward. After docking, the group headed to dinner at Ralph Kacoo’s in the heart of the French Quarter.

After a busy and fun week of wonderful sites, tours, music, food, history, fellowship, and entertainment, the group had plenty to talk about on the coach ride home. Travelers included Ann Adair and her guest Audrey Borecky, Charlie and Pat Becker, Wayne and Lynda Benson and their guests James and Vicki Forrest, Jane Bettison and her guest Frances Smith Kelly, Lynn Brown, Helen Campbell, Pat Caple and her guest Pat Mills, Paula Dailey, Jim Eberhart, Pat Everett, Linda Griggs, Georgia Grigsby, Ann Holt and her daughter Amy Holt Taylor, Joey Holthoff and her guest Wanda Boren, Catherine Lawson and her niece Carol Ivy, Jeanette McGrew, James and Mary Miller, Don and Rosemary Moore, Betty Rice, Charlie Schmieder, Pete and Sylvia Smykla, Kenneth and Carolyn Theis, and Smykla.

The group was especially thankful for their very well-liked motor coach driver, Wayne Agee of Branson, Mo.