NEW ORLEANS — Power up the lights, add in music from St. Peter Claver Church and cue Santa Claus, it’s the start of the holiday season in New Orleans with the lighting of Canal Street. The annual event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic and leaders we spoke to say seeing the historic street lit up once again brings back a sense of joy and optimism.
“In 2021 we continue to progress towards normalcy, what we perceived as normalcy back two, three years prior,” said Mark Gianquitti, general manager of Canal Place, one of the many partners helping to organize the event.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says having this event is a sign things are improving on the COVID front as cases are down in Louisiana and New Orleans.
“It feels so good to be back because this city fought hard to be where we are right now,” said Cantrell. “It didn’t happen just because. Our people demonstrated civic trust, they got vaccinated and they’ve made sure New Orleans is one of the safest places in the state of Louisiana and the United States of America.”
While lights lit up the street outside, inside Canal Place, Santa Claus greeted kids and their parents. Bo Sheridan says it’s great to celebrate holiday traditions like this again but it all feels a little odd still.
“Kind of strange,” said Sheridan, who was visiting New Orleans from Baton Rouge with her children. “Even just being down here, like on the way here, we are like ok, I’ve got masks, we are ready, we are prepared, we are vaccinated.”
And while seeing Santa Claus in person was nice for Sheridan’s kids - the family trip to New Orleans did not end there.
“We've hit the hot sauce store, we’ve hit the ice cream shop, we've gone everywhere today,” said Sheridan.
Welcome news for business leaders like Gregory Curtis, chair of the Downtown Development District.
“I think it feels like we are turning the curve, that we are coming back, people are coming back to our city.”