Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights -- #atozchallenge

N is for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights. Our son Eric attended high school in Natchitoches, so from 2010-2013, we became quiet familiar with this historic town. Read about my early impressions of Natchitoches from this 2010 post. But it was our son Andrew and his involvement with Sam Houston High's Marching Band that took us there for the Festival of Lights when the band participated in the festival parade in 2012.

I recall that day vividly. The weather was perfect, though maybe a bit too warm (close to 80 degrees) for December. Never certain that time of year, I wore corduroy pants and a long-sleeved holiday t-shirt. It was way too warm for that. And to boot, I assumed it would cool off after the sun went down, so I unnecessarily carried around a light-weight jacket all day. Imagine the band kids in those heavy uniforms, marching what I would guess was around a 3-4 mile parade route. This is Andrew’s “Oh, Mom . . ." look. 

I knew the place would be packed. Knowing I don’t deal well with crowds, I had mentally psyched myself ready several days in advance, but nothing could have prepared me for the masses that descend on Natchitoches for this daylong celebration – the parade, food, music, fireworks, and unveiling of the over 300,000 lights that adorn darling downtown Natchitoches. Out of curiosity, I called their Visitors Bureau after the event and discovered they estimated the crowd to be around 75,000! Wow! 

It was a good day overall. The parade was long, about two hours. Dance and cheer teams, floats carrying queens, politicians, and area business owners, high school marching bands, costumed characters, all tossing candy and beads to the throngs. I could have done without the noisy vroom vroom of approximately 175 motorcycles. And the policemen on their bikes needn’t have preened at quite so high a decibel level. But these funny Shriners made me smile. 

I did a little Christmas shopping in the overcrowded shops along Front Street. The fireworks were some of the best I’ve seen in my life (and I've seen a lot), truly choreographed to Christmas music and with different unusual displays of explosives I’d never seen before. 

They don’t flip the switch on the lights until after the fireworks, in a grand reveal. We’d grown weary of the crowds by then and wanted to head home after the fireworks (church and all the next morning) but in hindsight, I wish we had spent a bit more time looking at the lights. Traffic was an absolute nightmare. It took us an hour and a half to get out of the town. But it’s a worthwhile event to do at least once. It’s a Louisiana holiday tradition. 

(In the name of full disclosure, I did not take these night shots. I found them on the internet.) 

The festival takes place from November 19-January 6 this year. 


A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I am trying to figure out how to pronounce the name of the town... :D Also, 80 degrees in December! I envy you from Ohio... The lights look gorgeous!

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
The Multicolored Diary

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Dear Tarkabarka,

I hear you! Like so many words in Louisiana, the pronunciation is a hoot. It's NACK-a-dish! Of Native American Indian origin, instead of French. Every time I write the word, I have to sound it out in my head phonetically. Natch-i-toch-is.