LSU and Southern’s campuses welcome their students back to campus, and football season in full swing. Both universities have strong football traditions, and passionate fan bases that fill the stands week after week. “You know, you just feel the energy,” said LSU football player, Cameron Prudhomme.
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the afternoon before the big game, you can visit the children’s Knock Knock museum. “We’re close to campus, so you can come here and get out of the heat, come and play with your children in the museum, and you know we are only a hop, skip, jump away from the campuses, so you can go and tailgate and enjoy your game after,” said director of development, Jessica Gagliano.
Both LSU and Southern are featured through out the museum. Knock Knock even received it’s name from a creative group of LSU students. “They are such important institutions in our community and we’ve been so fortunate to have such a great partnership. We’ve seen athletes and students coming into the museum and it’s that great way that these young children like to look up to the older children,” Gagliano said.
Louisiana culture can be seen in many of the 18 learning zones inside the museum. Some of the zones show swamp scenes, fish tails, and the Mississippi River bridge. There’s also a push boat that shows visitors what it’s like to ride down the Mississippi River. Gagliano said she hopes the familiar scenery speaks to the children, “This is the community where you live and play and grow and how important it is.”
The museum has been a hit since it opened less than a year ago. Over 200,000 people have visited the museum, and representatives joked that the museum gets a lot of “Love.” The art garden goes through 200 gallons of paint each week. “Everybody is a child at heart, so the grown ups, you know, older siblings, grand parents, everybody loves to come to knock knock because there truly is something for everybody,” Gagliano said.
The museum is diverse and offers lots of hands on activities for several different age groups. Knock Knock representatives said lots of thought went into making sure the museum met the needs of each child. “We had an educational framework study, to really understand and look at the whole child and what that experience is for every child, so each of these learning zones that you see, there was so much time and dedication put into them. We had a team of educators, volunteers, that made sure every detail was thought of in these spaces,” said Gagliano.
The museum is meant to help children learn about potential careers, in a fun way, and will host field trips all school year. “We wanted to educate children through play and part of that education is really letting them know what’s out there, what careers can look like, so in each of our learning zones we have a workforce development piece, showing the parents and the children, if you love go go garage, these are your possibilities,” Gagliano said.
The museum will be hosting several events for adults in the future, and they welcome volunteers each day. This fall, Knock Knock will host the inaugural story book soiree, which will benefit the museum. The funds will help the museum continue their innovative programming, and educational outreach and initiatives. For more information on events for adults, visit the Knock Knock museum website at: http://knockknockmuseum.org/events/
Whether you’re headed to Southern or LSU’s campus, you’ll have plenty of local football fans awaiting your arrival. “It gets everybody involved, the community comes together from all parts of the state, and we just all come down and have a good time,” said LSU football player, Jonathan Baker. “There’s just a lot of spirit around LSU football and it’s a big deal,” Baker said.
Prudhomme said his parents will come from Lafayette to tailgate. “They love it, a lot of BBQ and food and drinks and activities, they enjoy it,” Prudomme said, “They like some crawfish.”
If you’re looking for some food to bring to the tailgate, you can stop by Empire Wings, located right of Southern University’s campus. The locally owned wing shop offers wing combos and a wide variety of sauces. You can get your fries topped with 2 sauces, and they stay open until 2 o clock in the morning after Southern’s game day.
Family, football and food are the highlights of fall in Louisiana. Jonathan Baker said it best, “It’s like a religion down here.”