92nd Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival filled with floats, fireworks and fun

xmas fest 2018 (1)


Kevin’s Gallery

The streets of Natchitoches Historic District were filled with crowds Dec. 1 for the 92nd Annual Christmas Festival. The icing on this holiday extravaganza is the parade, which features a variety of participants from school bands to area dance groups. A new float stood out as it rolled down the street. The Polar Express engine blew smoke out its stack as the engineer rang its bell. Santa’s new and improved sleigh included Mrs. Claus this year.

Natchitoches’ Northwestern State University had a full contingent in the parade. The Spirit of Northwestern Band was joined by the Demon cheerleaders and spirit and dance groups as well Dr. Chris Maggio and First Lady Jennifer Maggio. Natchitoches Central, Lakeview, LSMSA, the Natchitoches Junior High and St. Mary’s were also represented. And of course, let’s not forget the Christmas Belles and Miss Merry Christmas who threw plenty of beads and candy.

Parade Grand Marshal and Louisiana music legend Wayne Toups performed in the evening, followed by the Festival’s traditional fireworks show, which featured colorful explosions that shot up out of Cane River Lake.

5 thoughts on “92nd Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival filled with floats, fireworks and fun

  1. Many Natchitoches residents and others from all over the U.S. look forward to the Natchitoches Christmas Festival each year. Many local families plan their vacation and use the festival as a mini family reunion each year. It’s not easy to put on a successful parade. It takes an amazing amount of skill, thought, determination and sweat. The persons who actually participate put out great expense and time to be a part of it and those of us who attend are grateful.

    There was definitely opportunity for improvement at this year’s parade. News articles touted “new floats”, but they were somewhat underwhelming. Floats of years past were more professional and colorful. I think it’s time to define additional rules around parade throws. Yes, it’s just candy and beads, but spectators “LIVE” for those throws. The amount of throws this year was just pitiful. Most parades have a requirement around the volume of throws you have as an active participant. We should consider that.

    The whole philosophy behind a parade is to entertain your audience. In this regard, NSU’s band did not disappoint! Wow, the band is bigger and better than ever! Also, S.F. Austin’s band was greatly entertaining and I my heart goes out to the out-walkers, the costumed persons who walk around the float, extending the theme beyond the float itself. These are some hard working folk and they stop to take pictures with little ones who faces just light up. However, where were the bands from Shreveport, Alexandria and nearby East Texas who were staples from years past?

    We also missed the myriad of food vendors all over the festival area (not just the riverbank) as well as the walking folks selling toys and “doo-dads” from their rolling, makeshift carts. I realize the need to have controls over the selling of goods/services during the festival, but when it dulls the experience, and let’s be clear it’s all about the experience, there’s a need to re-evaluate.

    It’s easier to be critical after the fact on such a huge event as this without working to provide solutions. I think the committee that organizes the festival might be in need of some help or fresh perspective. I’d love to help out! Who else will join me in making Natchitoches even greater by volunteering to make next year’s festival one of the best ever? How does one get to participate with this illustrious group?

  2. Disappointed!!! As for me, bands, candy throwing, and floats are what makes up a successful parade. From my observance on Second Street, there was very little of that. The most exciting thing from where I was standing, which was in a very good shady spot under some trees, was the towing away of three of four cars that should not have been there. The action was rewarded with a hand clap from the crowd. Natchitoches, too many people travel from near and far to this “once a year event” to present them with anything less than amazing. We are better then this!!! Oh yes, before I conclude, where were the food vendors? There was only one food vendor present along the Second Street route on the end where I was located.

  3. What a great article, complete with all the details except did the author really attend the festival or they would have known the Headliner performer / Grand Marshall Wayne Toups.

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