GARYVILLE, La. — A longstanding tradition in the River Parishes is returning this year after a COVID hiatus in 2020.
Bonfires on the Levee will light up a 25-mile stretch along the Mississippi River at 7pm on Christmas Eve. The celebration includes one special build that’s been attracting visitors from all over the area.
On LA-44 in Garyville, you’ll find a gigantic wooden crab with working, pinching claws and a mouth that blows bubbles.
Blood, Sweat, and Bonfires, a group of lifelong friends, designed and built the structure. It took more than a month of work, said Sammy Clement. The group says a lot of the wood came from Hurricane Ida’s damage.
“Every year we take it to another level,” said Clement, who said he worked on the wiring and many other parts of the structure.
He says watching others enjoy his work is half the fun.
“It’s the best, right? It’s right here in our hometown. People coming from places, all over the place, right? They’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
But this crab has run out of silent nights.
It, like dozens of hand-built log towers dotting the levee in St. John and St. James Parishes, will ignite on Christmas Eve.
The Cajun tradition lights the way for Papa Noel and delights the thousands who make it a tradition.
“Oh yeah, we’re gonna light it, we’re gonna burn it down. The whole thing, right. All that work, we’re gonna put a match to it. And it’s gonna be fun, we’re gonna love it,” laughed Clement.
Kids who danced in the crab’s bubbles Thursday are just as excited to watch it all go up in flames on Christmas Eve.
“It’s like this big light, and it’s really loud,” said 3rd grader Cailyn Carmouche, describing the bonfires. She and her younger sister, Brooklyn, plan to come with their family.
“Everyone’s happy when they come to the bonfires on Christmas eve, and everyone’s a happy family,” said Brooklyn.
You can see the crab by typing “Blood, Sweat, and Bonfires” into Google Maps. The address is 3228 LA-44 in Garyville, Louisiana.