NEW ORLEANS — In the amber glow of levee bonfires, faces gaze on a long-time tradition in St. James Parish.
“I’m loving it, enjoying it,” said Karen Fortuna from New Orleans.
“This is what we grew up doing and loving so it means a whole lot to this entire parish,” said Paulina resident Kayne Matherne.
It’s a Christmas Eve celebration that can even create new traditions for folks experiencing it for the first time.
“We took all five boys, so excited to be here because I think up close is going to be totally different and awesome,” said Montz resident Stephanie Dauzat.
About 200 carefully crafted bonfires along the Mississippi River, as tradition goes, help light the way for Papa Noel.
“It’s hard work,” said Matherne. “It’s not fun building it, but it’s fun, the whole experience.”
It’s an experience Matherne grew up with and is now sharing with his kids.
“This is one reason it’s important,” said Matherne, pointing to one of his sons. “This is another reason right here, both my boys.”
Family, friends, and strangers all come together under a sky filled with fireworks and a little Christmas magic.
“It’s just really cool and awesome to come out here and see everything lit up and all the fireworks and all the bonfires,” said Montz resident Blaine Dauzat.
Those fires not only light up the sky but warm the hearts of those around them.