Levee bonfires burned overnight for an annual Cajun Christmas celebration
BATON ROUGE- It might be all downhill for the rest of the year, but up at the top of the levee, in St. James Parish, people are getting ready for Christmas in true Cajun fashion: bonfires on the levee.
"It's a great family tradition for basically the month of December,” said Mickey Roussel, who is building a teepee-shaped bonfire with his family and friends.
“Christmas Eve we kind of get the last hoorah if you will when we light the bonfire," said Roussel.
Although they start building weeks in advance, these ornate structures like this year's feeding pelican will not actually burn until Christmas Eve, attracting people from all over to the show on River Road.
“With him talking about the stories around it and how people congregate and get together and have whole meals and everybody comes together for that occasion, and there are explosions as well. I didn't know,” said a tourist named Glenda Pagard, who recently moved to the New Orleans area.
With a whole crew of family and friends working together to finish their teepee, Mickey Roussel says it is nearly 50 years of tradition.
“We like to December 1st we start building. We come up on the levee on weekends and cook and stuff like that, so it's a family outing," said Roussel.
According to local folklore, the light from the fires will guide Santa, or better known as Papa Noel in Cajun country, to all the good, local girls and boys.
Many people say it is also worth noting that the celebration is really a Cajun Christmas throw down.
“There'll probably be red beans, gumbo, everything to eat. They'll be more than welcomed. Once you come once, you're gonna come again,” said Roussel.
The Celebration of Bonfires begins just after sunset on December 24.
For more information, you can visit: http://www.experienceneworleans.com/bonfires-on-the-levee.html
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