The annual Christmas dinner for the ministers and spouses of the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans was held at the Ormond Plantation on Tuesday night, December 12, 2006. We had told the hostess for this wonderful ancient facility we anticipated having 150 present. On Friday before the big event, we called to ask them to increase that figure to 200. In post-Katrina New Orleans, our ministers and their families are hungry for fellowship with each other and for an excuse to get out of their homes–in many cases, a FEMA trailer–and celebrate.
As the director of missions for the association and responsible for the evening, I arrived early to make certain everything was in order. Even though I have driven River Road in Destrehan hundreds of times over the last 16 years, I was not certain precisely where Ormond Plantation was and ended up driving past the entrance and having to turn around and go back. Darkness had come early to our part of the Deep South and the heavy fog was complicating matters.
Since this plantation and several others in the area faces the Mississippi River, separated from that body of water only by River Road and the levee, fog is always a problem in the winter. Tuesday night, it was as bad as I’ve ever seen it.
A large sign announcing “Ormond Plantation” sits perpendicular to the two-lane highway and in the daytime can be read easily. However the darkness, the fog, and the lack of any kind of night-time illumination meant most of the invited guests would drive right past their destination.
I pulled into the parking lot, got out my flashlight, and walked through the heavy mist to the sign by the road. Then I had a decision to make.