“Our bus broke down in the middle of the night and it had broken down bad,” said Ramirez during an interview Thursday morning. “I had 40 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls with me and we had no flares or warning signs and I was pretty worried.”
Ramirez called 911 and got in touch with the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office who sent four squad cars. The officers put out warning lights behind the vehicle and - even though it took several trips - brought the girls to the Days Inn near the Crowley/Eunice exit where they bunked down for the night.
“They were so nice and they pretty much saved the day,” said Ramirez. “Our bus was broken down pretty bad so they had to send a replacement bus from Texas. It took about 12 hours to get here so the next day we asked the lady at the front desk if we could keep one room until our bus arrived. She said that wouldn’t be a problem and we all crammed into one room.”
Ramirez also knew that her girls were getting hungry so they went to The Rice Palace to grab some lunch. There they got to meet L.J. Gielen who came by to thank them for stopping by.
“I felt that we should be thanking him,” Ramirez laughed. “He was very nice and later on I saw him again when went to Winn Dixie to buy some ice for the girls and he gave us some money to help with our trip.”
When the replacement bus arrived the girls piled in and completed the trek to Cocoa Beach. During their trip they got to visit and learn about the space center, go to Disney World, as well as take a trip to the beach. However, they didn’t forget about the friend they had made in Louisiana.
“We decided to get Mr. Gielen a picture of the girls and a shirt from Kennedy Space Center as a token of our appreciation and drop it off on the way home,” said Ramirez. “We left the night of July 25th at around 9 p.m. and as we got closer to Crowley we called The Rice Palace in advance to see if they could take a group of about fifty people. Even though it was early (around 8 a.m.) they put us in our own room in the back with a TV set and Mr. Gielen came and greeted us as we came in. We even got our breakfast for free!”
“From now on if anyone asks me if I know of a good restaurant in Louisiana I’m saying The Rice Palace.”
As the meal was winding down Gielen asked the girls if they had time to take a tour of one of Crowley’s most well-known attractions, The Grand Opera House of the South.
“To be honest we really didn’t have enough time,” Ramirez laughed. “But Mr. Gielen was so nice I agreed to go on the tour. Your Opera House over there is just beautiful! Oh did the girls love it. They asked all kinds of questions and Mr. Gielen patiently answered them all. It was a great experience.”
“I’m really impressed with the hospitality of Crowley.”
Anyone wishing to view pictures of Ramirez’ group’s entire trip may go to http://rgvsa.blogspot.com/.