Park anniversary renews hope

Monday marks one year since Millennium Park was burned to the ground.

In that year the city of Lake Charles and community made good on a promise to rebuild the park bigger and better.

Despite the tragedy, they once again overwhelmingly took part in a labor of love that will be enjoyed by children for years to come.

Now children are swinging, sliding, and having a blast.

But just one year ago, ash, soot and the burnt structure was all that remained on the lakefront where Millennium Park once stood.

Police say it was the result of arson at the hands of 17-year-old Seth Arceneaux, who was arrested days after the fire.

"This wasn't just a playground that was destroyed," said Pam Dixon, helper in the building the first park. "Millennium Park actually represented the heart, and the soul and the generosity of the people in this area."

The fire startled the community because many helped build the park a decade earlier with their own hands.

And much like they did before, the community wasted no time to rebuild the park bigger and better than before.

Just one year later, the park is now open to the public, but the process didn't happen overnight.

After months of raising more than $300,000 dollars, it would take more than 5,000 volunteers to rebuild the park in just two weeks.

There's an Indian village along with a tree house named "the crying eagle's nest," the translation of the Indian word Calcasieu. The rebuilding process finished up just weeks ago, with the new park incorporating a little bit of history and a whole lot of fun.

While the new park is on its way to being the heart and soul of the community again, the original millennium park will forever be remembered by both adults and children.

"When I was like a little kid," said Sam Bass as he played at the park. "I loved going at the other park, but since it got burned down. I'm happy that this new one is open. And I have a blast around over here."

Seth Arceneaux's trial date is set for March for his role in the arson of Millennium Park.

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