Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mary Jane's Bridge - Broussard, LA (Acadiana's Urban Legend)

Mary Jane’s Bridge (Broussard)

            Every state has its fair share of urban legends that make for great campfire stories or ingenious ways to scare young kids. Whether it is a man with a hook for a hand, a strange cryptozoological creature or an infamous “woman in white” that wanders abandoned roads at night, the legends are sure to keep locals enthralled and children afraid to go to sleep at night. Louisiana is no exception, as these sorts of legends are abundant. As a child, when I misbehaved, I was often threatened with the dreaded "Johnny Panachaffa", the imaginary "boogaloo" that roamed the woods at night searching for young children. What did this crazy Cajun with the funny last name do with his victims, might one ask? Murder them? Molest them? Dig their eyeballs out with a melon scooper and use their skulls as a sex toy? Oh no, not this weirdo; he would do the unthinkable. HE WOULD SNEAK IN YOUR ROOM AND PULL YOUR TOES AT NIGHT! I never quite could understand of all the things this make-believe guy could do, why pull your toes? Shame on our parents for not coming up with a little more clever way of verifying what a badass this bayou boogie man would be! Fortunately, Broussard, Louisiana does not have such a sadistic and maniacal creeper with a foot fetish.

            The small town of Broussard is home to a particular bridge that has long rumored to be haunted by one of these legends. Off of Highway 90 lies Bayou Tortue Road. Tortue is French for turtle in case you were wondering. After passing a few residential areas, the road becomes more secluded and winding. It is down this winding road you will encounter the Bayou Tortue Bridge,
Location of Mary Jane's Bridge off of US 90 in Broussard
better known to locals as Mary Jane’s Bridge.

            The tale, ever so familiar, originates from a young girl who is out on her prom. I will leave you and your investigative skills to determine her name! It is said that her and her date approached the bridge, possibly to admire the lovely algae-infested muddy water, when her chivalrous beau supposedly pushed Mary Jane off the bridge, killing her. Mary’s ghost is said to still haunt this bridge and nearby area, wandering around looking for her killer.
            The story sounds good on paper but when you actually visit the bridge, the tale becomes quite comical, as the bridge is fairly small and the vast body of water is not quite a bottomless pit of roaring rapids. I would prefer to call the water a small overgrown creek. To imagine a woman falling to her death here and the body never being found is highly questionable.

The Devil Worshipers are Coming!
            Other tales that are told by the locals to reinforce the haunting of this land are rumors of satanic worshipers in the nearby woods performing various types of rituals, as well as the legend of an ax-wielding serial killer in the early 1900’s that roamed the area. Always remember if your urban legend is not spooky enough, always throw in a few devil worshipers and a crazed serial killer and you are all set! Flashing back once again to my childhood, I guess old Johnny Panachaffa would occasionally go on vacation, because when he was unavailable to pull my toes at night, my mom was quick to throw out the famous, "Go to sleep or the devil worshipers are gonna come get you!" Nevertheless, the inconsistencies and overly-dramatic stories do not deter teens from visiting this place on Saturday nights, insisting the bridge and surrounding area is still haunted.

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