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St. James residents busy building bonfires for Christmas Eve celebration
GARYVILLE - It's bonfire season for the River Parishes, and one group is already getting to work on their annual creation.
Joshua Weidert spearheads a local group called "Blood, Sweat and Bonfires." Weidert, along with the friends he grew up with, use knowledge passed down through generations to build unique and eye-catching bonfires each year.
"Our dads did it, their dads did it, and it’s just something that’s kinda been passed down to us," Weidert said.
Around Thanksgiving, the men usually begin gathering lumber from the swamp and areas around the levee. Weidert says they cut it down themselves, just like their ancestors did.
“We use a lot of dead trees from behind the levee to fill the inside of the bonfires, things the hurricane knocked over. We're just trying to reuse some of this wood, clean it up out of people’s yards and save it for the bonfires,” he said.
The bonfires draw in hundreds of spectators from all over the country each year. One year, Weidert says a guest book recorded visitors from 32 states and nine countries.
“More and more people are coming from all over the place every year. They’re booking hotels and making accommodations to stay out here to see these bonfires, so we try to give them a good show every year," Weidert said.
You can see the bullfrog come to life when it's lit up on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. sharp. The group is located on the levee in Garyville, with a big, wooden #1 marking their spot.
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