The four judges visited Abbeville last Friday, with members of Keep Abbeville Beautiful and the Abbeville Garden Club taking them on a tour. Jean Gilstrap, Cleanest City chairman for the LGCF, contacted Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza Monday morning with the results.
“We won!” Piazza exclaimed.
Abbeville topped Category G, which included Crowley, Mandeville and Pineville. The latter had previously won the state title eight of the last 11 years.
“We’re shocked, really,” Piazza said. “I had a feeling that we were going to do very well. I definitely felt we would do better than last year, when we finished fourth. So I was shocked when she told me that we had beaten out Pineville.
“Everybody over here at city hall is just thrilled to death.”
Keep Abbeville Beautiful Chairman Sandra Creswell had a similar reaction.
“I was totally thrilled,” Creswell said Monday afternoon. “We’ve been working really hard on this for the past few years. We had so many more people working with us this year.
“I think this is well deserved.”
It was the amount of volunteers and others that made a difference, according to Creswell.
“Absolutely,” she said. “The Garden Club started (back up) this year. Right there you had about 30 new people helping.
“Having so many people helping really did help. It really did.”
“It was a tremendous effort by everyone involved,” Piazza said. “We had a lot of volunteers to go with city workers. We also had a lot of help from Sheriff Mike Couvillon, the (Vermilion Parish) Police Jury and (Abbeville Police) Chief Tony Hardy.
“We had a lot of help and it paid off.”
Piazza said another group played an important role.
“None of this would have been happening with out the complete support of the city council,” Piazza said of Francis Touchet, Francis Plaisance, Brady Broussard Jr., Louis Joe Hardy and Wayne Landry. “They have been 100 percent behind this effort. Most of the route was in Brady Broussard (District C) and Joe Hardy’s (District A) districts.
“But the entire council was behind the effort every step of the way.”
Each city had a pre-planned route for the judges. One judge did make a request of the tour, though.
“She asked us to veer off the route,” Creswell said. “That’s something they have a right to do. She said they were doing that with every city they judged. They know we are going to keep the route clean.”
That did not cause a problem. That is because Abbeville’s clean effort went beyond the route.
“The state chairman said off the route was so clean,” Creswell said. “I think that was one of the deciding factors.”
Winning this year could factor into repeating the feat in 2013.
“The more that you clean up, it transfers to the next person,” Creswell said of the win creating a positive view of a clean city. “We had people show up that we had never seen before. The interest is great and more people want to get involved.
“The more people that get involved, the cleaner things become.”
That could create a Pineville-like run for Abbeville.
“I hope so,” Piazza said with a laugh. “But this is really a tremendous accomplishment.”