After COVID dimmed Papa Noel’s lights into South Louisiana last year, St. James Parish is ready to light bonfires again

2021 Lighting of the Bonfires to return to the River Parishes
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:27 PM CST

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When Papa Noel came to South Louisiana in 2020, he had to rely on GPS.

That will not be the case this year as the bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to drop off his presents.

Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to...
Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to drop off his presents.(WAFB)

“We always say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, bonfire season,” said Jason Amato.

Amato and his family have been building bonfires on the levee for generations. Last year was the first time the tradition was broken.

“There was some angst last year, worrying, some wondering will Santa Claus find St. James Parish without the bonfires, and he did. We had a happy ending,” he said.

This year, more than 130 teepees (big and small), Tomahawks, and Louisiana Blue Crabs line the St. James Parish levee, meaning there will be no mistaking where Papa Noel needs to land.

Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to...
Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to drop off his presents.(WAFB)

“It seems like everybody is kind of, they got that feeling of, you know, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone, and last year was gone, so everybody is out here enjoying it more,” said Joshua Weidert, one of the masterminds behind Blood, Sweat, and Bonfire’s Blue Crab bonfire.

More so than the extravagant construction, Amato said the return of the fires on Christmas Eve is a return to normalcy after another hard year of COVID and hurricanes on the bayou.

“I got goosebumps just thinking about it because it’s a great time for us here in St. James Parish,” Amato said.

The fires in St. James light at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For those planning to attend, traffic will be contraflow heading south.

Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to...
Bonfires are back on in St. James Parish, ensuring Santa Claus knows exactly where to go to drop off his presents.(WAFB)

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