The Lighting of the Way for Papa Noel


Verified SOF
Aug 29, 2008
New Orleans Area
Greetings and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the birth of Jesus. Happy Holidays to everyone else.

If you find yourself with the opportunity to include South Louisiana in December during your travels, allow me to suggest a spectacle that will dazzle the senses. In St James and St John the Baptist Parishes there is a tradition of building large bonfires on the Mississippi River Levee. These bonfires stretch for miles and miles and are lit at dusk on Christmas Eve. The photo below is from an article that I'll link to here .

The people who build the bonfires are required to obtain a permit which are issued in mid November. Permitted construction of the bonfires begins shortly thereafter to afford the builders the time to complete their entries for the Festival of the Bonfires which is typically held during a three day weekend in mid December.

As I said earlier, these bonfires are lit on Christmas eve to light the way for Papa Noel (Santa Claus). This is quite a spectacle with bonfires, fireworks, and people as far as the eye can see. There is even a riverboat cruise that comes up the Mississippi from New Orleans and docks on the river banks to allow it's passengers to partake in the festivities.

Anyway, I set out this morning to get some good photos of my rig amongst these bonfires. However, a miscalculation on how long it would take me to get to the levee caused me to simply take a few snapshots as best I could as the sun was rising fast.




The vast majority of these bonfires are built in the tried and true log pyramid method.


However, some builders go above and beyond in their creativity while building their bonfires such as the one shown below: