Emmy-winning producer Charlie Whinham hits the road in December to spotlight some of the Bayou State’s time-honored holiday events and traditions, some dating back two centuries ago. The special premieres Tuesday, December 6 at 7PM on the six channel Louisiana Public Broadcasting network.
The program includes visits to the Festival of Lights celebration in Natchitoches, the Christmas Eve bonfires in St. James Parish, Christmas at the Acadian Village in Lafayette and the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge and a stop at the American Rose Society’s Roseland in Shreveport.
Since the 1800’s, the communities of Lutcher, Gramercy and Paulina light the way with large bonfires for Papa Noel traveling along the Mississippi River. Twenty-five foot high wooden structures are lovingly created each December by family and friends alike. These structures are set ablaze on Christmas Eve night.
Back in 1927, the town of Natchitoches began their annual “Festival of Lights” and it has become a Louisiana holiday staple ever since. The downtown passage along Front Street offers visitors and townsfolk a traditional horse drawn carriage ride where over 300-thousand Christmas lights reflect off the banks of the Cane River.
Acadian Village in Lafayette is a sparkling jewel that puts thousands of visitors in the Cajun Christmas spirit each year. This replica of a 19th century town is open all year long, but during the holiday season, Acadian Village really shines brightest thanks to the hanging of over half-a-million lights. In addition, carnival rides and Cajun Carols continue to entertain generation after generation.
Nearly 40 years ago, the Burden Family donated their 430-acre family farm to LSU to create a rural life museum that is visited by over 60-thousand people annually. Each year, during Christmas time, there is a special weekend created for the holidays that takes visitors back to how Christmas was celebrated back in the early 1800s.
In the Ark-La-Tex region, an annual Christmas display blossoms at the national headquarters of the American Rose Society in Shreveport. The 100-acre rose garden welcomes visitors from around the world for “Christmas in Roseland.”
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Credit: New-York Historical Society - "Great Egret," painted in Louisiana 1821