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pakowitz 05-11-2003 01:23 PM

Saints to make Baton Rouge stop on 3-day caravan

Advocate sportswriter

New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and coach Jim Haslett will head up the team's third annual Western Regional Caravan, a three-day event which includes a Thursday stop in Baton Rouge.
Loomis and Haslett will be joined on the five-city tour by defensive end Darren Howard, cornerback Ashley Ambrose, and wide receiver Jerome Pathon. They will meet and greet fans at the Mall of Louisiana, 6401 Bluebonnet Blvd., from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Baton Rouge stop comes on the second day of the tour, which begins Wednesday afternoon with a visit to Monroe. On Thursday, the group makes a stop in Natchez, Miss., before heading to Baton Rouge.

On Friday, the caravan will conclude with visits to Lake Charles and Lafayette. This is the first time a Saints' caravan will visit Monroe, Natchez and Lake Charles. An Eastern Regional Caravan to Mississippi and Alabama will be held June 23-25.

Each of the caravan stops will feature an autograph session, an overview of the upcoming season and a question and answer session. Drawings will also be held for Saints merchandise, memorabilia and information on season and group ticket sales will be available.

The public meeting at the Mall of Louisi-ana will be the second of three events in Baton Rouge, but the only one open to the public. The Saints will be introduced to state legislators at the Capitol from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. and visit with lawmakers again at a private residence from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"We are expanding our efforts to reach out to our fans throughout the Gulf South, and this caravan will give supporters in five cities the opportunity to get to know our team and organization up close and personal," said Arnold D. Fielkow, the Saints executive vice president of administration. "We are looking forward to meeting Saints fans from all over the region, and we're especially excited about making first-time stops in Monroe, Natchez and Lake Charles."

Fans can visit with the Saints in Monroe at the Holiday Inn Holidome from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednes-day and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Thursday at Bowie's Tavern in Natchez. The Saints will also visit the Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

In Lake Charles, the group will be at the Prien Lake Mall from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday. They'll wind up the tour with a news conference at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. and visit with fans at Acadiana Mall from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

JOINING IN: The Saints have committed $20,000 to the Tulane "Green Team" campaign, with Loomis and Haslett using personal funds to help spearhead the drive throughout the organization.

"It is important that Tulane remain a Division I-A athletics program and this is something we felt was the right thing to do, to show our support," Loomis said of the initiative to keep the school from dropping to Division III status.

"We felt it was important that we show our commitment," Haslett said. "Tulane's been a model Division I-A program and our relationship with (football) coach (Chris) Scelfo gets stronger each year. It is critical that we show our support for something that has been a part of New Orleans as long as Tulane has."

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