Dec 182012
 

By Wesley Brown

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When the East Carolina University football team takes the field Saturday inside the Louisiana Superdome, they will be fighting for more than a bowl championship trophy.

A possible helping of jambalaya and a bald cypress tree will be on the line, as well as Greenville city pride during the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

To mark the competition in the Pirates’ post-season contest against the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas and Lafayette, La., Mayor Joey Durel have agreed to a friendly wager to benefit each of the cities.

Under the terms of the challenge, the “winning” mayor will receive some home cooking and a native tree from the “losing” city.

“As an alumnus of East Carolina and mayor of Greenville, I planned to be at the game cheering for the Pirates,” said Thomas, who initiated the bet. “I thought this would be a fun way to add to the festivities and build some camaraderie between our communities.”

If UL Lafayette wins, Thomas said Billy Parker, owner of Parkers Barbecue, has agreed to ship a plate of one of his signature dishes to Durel, who also will receive a crepe myrtle tree, which features the official flower of the city of Greenville.

If ECU wins, Durel will treat Thomas to some of southern Louisiana’s famous Cajun cuisine — expected to be jambalaya — and send the city of Greenville a bald cypress, a tree indigenous to the Gulf Coast and one of Durel’s favorites.

The friendly challenge began two weeks ago when Thomas called Durel to congratulate the Louisiana mayor on his city and Alma Mater earning its second trip in a row to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Thomas said Durel was appreciative of the gesture and that the two mayors talked at length about their communities, which they found were very similar, each being two large rural-based cities that are seen as innovators in higher education, technology and health care.

They agreed to share ideas on economic development and possibly work together on some projects, before negotiating the terms of their wager.

“This contest is a perfect example of what a strong university and a strong athletic program can do to highlight a community,” Durel said. “Our two cities don’t know a lot about each other, but the football game will give us an opportunity to share our culture and joie de vivre with another thriving community in the Southeast.”

As for the challenge, Thomas has already named ECU, which will be playing in its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years, as the victor.

Thomas said he cannot wait to show off the bald cypress next to the Oklahoma red bud tree Greenville won a few years ago for topping Tulsa in the Conference USA championship.

“Greenville has been a Tree City USA community for nearly a quarter of a century now and I wanted to make sure that when the Pirates win, we can add another tree to our special collection at City Hall,” Thomas said. “I figured that Mayor Durel would be interested since Lafayette has also been a Tree City USA community for more than 20 years.”

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.

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