Residents wasting no time setting up bonfires along the levee
ST. JAMES PARISH - The sights and sounds of the holiday season are returning to south Louisiana as families are busy building bonfires along the levee in the river parishes.
"It is truly a family tradition for us. I have been doing it for many years," long-time resident George Vicknair said.
Vicknair has helped his family light the way for Papa Noel since he was 13 years old.
"Now that our grandchildren are around, we needed to start to back it up so they can get experience with it," Vicknair said.
Last year's bonfires fizzled before they could be lit after COVID-19 ravaged the river parishes.
"Naturally, it was a little disappointing. We built ours in six hours, and then we had to tear it out," Vicknair said.
A year later, things have changed. The late-night lights will glow again, and it won't just be locals watching the show.
"I expect a blowout," Vicknair said. "We can expect people from Germany, Japan, France. They come from all over."
Another builder, Mark Louque, is setting up his bonfire for the first time in 40 years, and he is thrilled to be back.
"It's been quite a few years since I built any. We had moved away, and we came back this year," Louque said. "This is our first time right here as a family building at this location."
The bonfires are one of those traditions you'll only find in southeast Louisiana, and those who call this area home could not be more proud.
"It's like having a building on St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras, except for its bonfires."
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