Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Bonfires on the levee preparation

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ST. JAMES PARISH - It's a Christmas Eve tradition that always lights up the night along the levee in the River Parishes of St. James and St. John the Baptist. The levee is lined mile-after-mile with the decorative sculptures made from wood.

"It's definitely worth the time," said Josh Weidert, who has been building bonfire sculptures for years. "We've been waiting a year for this."

Some were as tall as 20 feet high. One took the form of a battle tank. One was a replica of a NASA space shuttle. And one, adorned with a Blue Dog painting, honoring the passing of famed Louisiana artist George Rodrigue. All are considered hand-crafted works of art.

"We put so much work into this," said Weidert. "So much pride."

From idea to design, complete with small scale models made from pencils, it takes some real planning to pull these off. Especially when the sculptures are destined to meet a fiery blaze of a finale.

"Hard to see it go down in flames because we worked so hard," said Phillip Chauvin, who helped put together a LSU-themed stack. "But satisfaction that it's done."

Tuesday night at 7 o'clock, the bonfire stacks will be lit.



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