By: Christina Arrechavala
The City of Lights is in full swing once more as the 90th Christmas festival approaches. But how does the City of Lights come to life during this wonderful time of the year?
The official brochure for the event states that there are over 300,000 lights and 100 lighted set pieces that can be seen in downtown Natchitoches and along Cane River Lake.
Lee McKinney, the Superintendent of the Natchitoches Electric Department, oversees the installation of the lights. All the work on the lights is done solely by the normal electric workers of the city, keeping the work force local.
“It takes two months for the all of the lights to be set up, and we will still barely make the 19th of November,” McKinney said. “We actually work 14-16 hours a day, 5 days a week.”
“Mostly it is the same display from year to year, but they usually add a new set piece or two every year and we take an old one out, McKinney said. “The new piece this year will be lights from Shipley’s Donuts on Second Street to the main entrance of the college.”
McKinney explained a bit how the tradition of the light festival began, with Charlie Solomon back in 1927.
“He decorated a tree and put it down on the riverbank,” McKinney said. “He ran an extension cord from his house down the hill and turned the tree on.”
There is a plaque dedicated to Mr. Solomon, referred to as “Mr. Christmas Lights”, under the large Oak tree to the left of the riverbank.
Jordan Reich, a junior, has lived in Natchitoches for two years, but has yet to be able to attend the festival.
“The Christmas Festival is always the first weekend of December, which also happens to be the weekend before finals, Reich said. “I do not have the time to experience the full festival, but I am going to do my best to at least make it out to see the lights and the fireworks on the river this year,” Reich said.
The lights are currently being displayed from dusk until 11pm every night, except on Christmas and New Years’ Day, where they will be on for an extended time, allowing residents and tourists to see the lights without having to attend the main event that is held the first week of December.
Below is a list of activities during the holiday season, courtesy of the Current Sauce’s issue this week:
“Turning on the Holidays”
Front St. 11 a.m.—9 p.m.
Christmas Lights will be turned on to kicks off the Christmas celebrations.
Christmas in the Park
Stroll through a winter wonderland of Christmas lights and displays.
Nov. 30- Dec. 2
NSU Christmas Gala
A.A. Fredericks 7 p.m.
Come see NSU’s annual Christmas spectacular show featuring CAPA students and faculty.
Festival of Lights Parade Front St. and Second St., 1 p.m.
The annual parade features live music and parade floats and attracts thousands of tourists and locals.
“Lessons & Carols”
Immaculate Conception, 7:30 p.m.
The NSU Chamber Choir will perform Christmas music in the Catholic church established in 1728. .
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Pictures on site were taken by Karalee Scouten & Kasi Patten.