BOGALUSA, La. (WGNO) — When the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival isn’t happening at Cassidy Park, it’s the perfect place to get in tune with Mother Nature.

“I would say Cassidy Park is really the pillar when you’re talking about parks and recreation in the City of Bogalusa. You can come enjoy the views, get lunch, let your kids play on the playground. There’s always something to do in Cassidy Park,” says Director of Parks and Recreation Christopher Dudzienski.

You’ll find 25 developed acres and 57 more recently added, a gift from International Paper.

“It would be a dream of mine to see Cassidy Park become more akin to City Park in New Orleans,” says Dudzienski.

Even before the latest additon, this was the town’s largest green space. In fact, a hike into one spot in the park and you can see where Bogalusa was born.

WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald visited that exact spot where, in 1906, The Great Southern Lumber Company pitched a colony of tents, and that marked the birthplace of the City of Bogalusa.

The park has seen many chapters of Louisiana history, some not so serene.

“In 1965, actually, we saw the first movement for integration in the park,” says Dudzienski.

During the fight against segregation, civil rights demonstrators were met with violence and the park was closed for a period.

Modern day Cassidy Park is seeing a renaissance, including a new teen lounge in the works that will be a safe meeting place for fun, games and gathering.

“With all the things that teens are experiencing nowadays, we need positive outlets and things like that for our youth,” says Dudzienski.

The park bears the name of two early mayors of Bogalusa, and while we’re on the topic of names: Bogue Lusa is a Chocktaw phrase that means ‘dark or smoky’ water, which you’ll find in the creek that flows along the festival grounds.

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