The streets of Natchitoches were filled with crowds December 4 for the 95th Annual Christmas Festival as thousands of visitors descended on the City of Lights for a day of parades, fireworks, and family fun.
The iconic Christmas Festival Parade featured an exciting lineup of over sixty floats, bands, and marching units. NCHS’ Army JROTC color guard led the parade followed by marching cadets. The Polar Express carried the Natchitoches Parish teacher and students of the year. Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser, threw beads from a Louisiana “Feed Your Soul” tourism float promoting the many reasons to visit our state. There was plenty of fast paced entertainment as the area’s dance and cheer schools showed off the results of their hard work. NSU’s Army ROTC had the most unique float, a decorated 75mm pack howitzer.
Natchitoches’ own Northwestern State University had a full contingent in the parade. The Spirit of Northwestern Band was joined by the Demon cheerleaders, spirit, and dance groups as well as NSU President Marcus Jones. Natchitoches Central, Lakeview, LSMSA, St. Mary’s and other area schools were also represented. The NCHS “Pride of the Tribe” band joined their fellow musicians from NSU in providing quality live music.
There were two notable units making their debut in the parade. The Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux had a large contingent of tribe members in regalia. The Weaver Elites also made an appearance in their signature white shirts and jackets, blue for Weaver and Gold for the Junior High. This group of exemplary young men and women set the standard for hard work, behavior, and citizenship.
Parade Grand Marshal and voice of Scooby Doo, Scott Innes, rode on a float followed by the Mystery Machine and people dressed as characters from the popular movie and classic cartoon And of course, let us not forget the Christmas Belles and Miss Merry Christmas who threw plenty of beads and candy. This accomplished and hard-working group of young ladies keep up a demanding schedule of appearances, school visits, and community service in addition to their schoolwork and extracurriculars. As is traditional, Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in the last float, marking the end of the parade.
After the parade, Zydeco, Creole and Cajun musicians Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie kept the fun going with an eclectic and energetic show that kept the capacity crowd filling the dance area in front of the stage. Of course it would not be Christmas in Natchitoches without fireworks! This year’s fireworks show was no exception to its predecessors’ reputation for excellence. The show was superb, featuring colorful bursts, the iconic “waterfall” from the Cane River Bridge and a finale that would do credit to an artillery barrage. This event is by far the finest fireworks show in the state.
Christmas in Natchitoches is simply wonderful. The 2021 Natchitoches Christmas Festival Day was a resounding success.