In My Backyard: "Riverbend Lakes"

By: Lee Peck

What makes your neighborhood unique? – Ask that question and you'll get an endless amount of responses. But for WAFB Executive Producer Cheryl Michelet the "family-friendly" feel is what sets hers apart from the rest. You see Cheryl always has a great story about her neighborhood that draws you in and leaves you wondering by the end of the story if such a place exists. So I decided to find out for myself… and here's what I found.



Nestled back behind the more established Riverbend Subdivision is the active and inviting Riverbend Lakes . Everything about the neighborhood is welcoming from the people mowing their lawns to the mothers strolling their children – all waving as if they know you. Even the automated sprinklers are welcoming as strange as that may sound.


On the particular afternoon I chose to visit the charming subdivision, I ran into Gail and Mark Ewing as they were walking their dog. The Ewings tell me they’ve lived in Riverbend for 11 years and enjoy walking through the new subdivision. When asked what they liked about the most, Gail says, “It’s kind of like a small town, where everyone feels like they know everyone.” Mark agrees, “It really is like a small town. Everyone waves – even if they don’t know you.”


As I continued to drive along I couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful homes, and there are plenty of them. According to Cheryl the houses are sometimes referred to as “McMansions.” Cheryl says McMansions are average-sized homes that have a mansion-like look and feel. If you expect them to look alike – guess again. “There were so many different builders and contractors used in the subdivision, that no two houses are exactly alike,” says Cheryl. “It’s not like some of those new subdivisions, where each side of street mirrors the other. Each home has a distinct look that makes it stand alone.”


Donna Barre has lived in the area for 6 years. She says when she and her husband were house hunting they knew it would be a perfect place to raise a family. Donna says she can remember seeing all the neighborhood children safely running about and instantly knew she wanted that for her three kids. “We couldn’t think about moving to another neighborhood. In fact, when we outgrew our other home we upgraded to a newer one,” says Donna. “We love that this neighborhood is convenient to the kids’ school and the fact that it is so safe.”   

Located near LSU, Riverbend Lakes offers many families employed by the university the convenience of working near home. Val Saraj says since moving to the neighborhood he has saved quality time and couldn’t be happier. “Before we moved to Riverbend Lakes , we lived across town. It would take me sometimes at least 45 minutes with traffic to make it home,” says Val. “Now I’m home within minutes and have more time to spend with my family.”


With everything Riverbend Lakes has to offer, realtors should have no problem selling these homes. Just ask realtor Michael Claus. It wasn’t long ago that Michael was showing a home to a prospective buyer, when he decided to make an offer on the home himself. “As a realtor, I see a lot of homes. And this particular neighborhood has nice homes at a variety of affordable price ranges,” says Michael. “It just really appealed to me – so we made an offer and bought the house.”


Michael’s wife Sarah agrees and says she couldn’t be happier. I found the young couple enjoying an afternoon of bike riding in their new neighborhood. They moved in two weeks ago and say they’ve received a warm welcome by several of their new neighbors.

"We had a garage sale to try and get rid of some of our unwanted stuff from the move. We were so surprised at the amount of people that came by to introduce themselves and welcome us into the neighborhood," says Sarah. "And of course some of them bought our old junk – that was great too!"


The neighborhood also has a hidden bonus. Travel all the way to the end of Riverbend Lakes Drive , pass the dead end sign and you’ll discover a neighborhood park. The fully functional park, built by BREC, lends itself to almost any outdoor activity, including tennis, baseball, jungle gym and the ever popular swing sets. The park also acts a communal gathering place for neighborhood events, such as the recent annual Easter egg hunt.


Several families I spoke with say their kids have really come to expect the holiday magic of Riverbend Lakes . I say “magic” because they go beyond just decorating for the holidays. For instance at Christmas time, I’m told you’ll see enough lights and décor that even Santa would feel at home. For kids seeing Santa on Christmas night is only a dream, but not for the kids of Riverbend Lakes . On Christmas Eve Santa comes riding down the street on a fire engine and throws candy to all the boys and girls – the good ones of course. But the holiday that outdoes all holidays is Halloween.

“Halloween is such an event! Families from all over Baton Rouge come trick-or-treating in our neighborhood,” says Cheryl. “It’s now sort of a tradition to have our family over for dinner and make a fun night out of it.”


As more families continue to move into the subdivision, they’re sure to take part in the traditions of Riverbend Lakes .

Now, we want to hear from you about what makes your neighborhood unique. Write to us at and let us know. Who knows your neighborhood could be chosen to be featured on WAFB Channel 9 and in our "In My Backyard Series." So what are you waiting for… tell us what makes you neighborhood so great.