Monday, 30 December 2013

An Anniversary Trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana, The City of Lights

It was December 1995 when Joey and I went on our first date to the Natchitoches Christmas Festival in beautiful Natchitoches, Louisiana.   My family moved to Natchitoches the summer before my senior year of high school and I attended college there at Northwestern State University, so I was able to show Joey around the city.  A year later, on December 20, 1996, we were married.   This year, we were unable to get a baby-sitter (a problem in a college town between semesters), so we cancelled reservations and took the kids for a family dinner at Cracker Barrel.  

Yesterday, on the Fourth Day of Christmas, we returned to Natchitoches to enjoy the last Saturday fireworks of this Christmas season.   We stayed with our friend, Amber, and she joined us as we drove to the City of Lights.   It's a beautiful and fun family destination that is well worth the drive.   We were able to see the free beautiful light displays along Cane River, enjoy a free fabulous fireworks show that I think was the best I've ever seen anywhere, sample delicious concession foods such as Natchitoches meat pies and window-shop along the historic brick-paved streets of downtown.    I am pretty sore and feel a bit beaten-up today, but it was worth it to see the wonder in the children's eyes.   Here are some highlights:

18 years later, back where it all began

We began the day in Natchitoches by meeting one of my mama's best friends, Beth (Sister, as we call her) for lunch.   It was so good to hug her hard and just sit and visit with her like old times.   Her friendship was a special gift from God to Mama and she's still a gift to me.   Then, we headed downtown to Saturday evening mass at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.   The parish dates back to the early 1700s, while the Basilica was built in 1857 and completed in 1892.   Oh, to hear the beautiful gospel and a teaching homily delivered with a southern accent and responses behind me spoken in a Cajun accent.   It was a beautiful mass for the Feast of the Holy Family in a beautiful church.   Then, I realized I left my purse, so I hurried to the church, knocked on the side door and was greeted by a group of lovely ushers who were waiting for me.


Plaque at the previous location of the parish.   His life story is so interesting!

The lovely rectory

Then, it was down to the Riverbank to explore the beauty there and find the best spot for viewing the fireworks.   The best route is to go to the end of Front Street and go down the steps toward Le Jardin for the best entrance to the riverbank.   Then, slowly make your way to the other end and stake a spot out by Santa's Cottage to watch the fireworks show.  

Pronounced LAHZ-E-ahns, this is THE place to eat meat pies.

The galleries wrapped in lacy iron-work are so beautiful.

The Historic Roque House


The trees!!!

Blurry view of the downtown bridge, but I kept it for the reflections in the water.

The official Christmas tree

A view of a portion of Front Street before night falls.

Joey just wanted a Natchitoches meat pie and a crawfish pie from the concession stands.

First Funnel Cake!!

The path to Santa's Cottage

Santa's Cottage on the river.

My favorite section of river displays.   Unapologetic city display:) This is the 87th year for the Christmas Festival.

Crawfish Santa carried by an alligator, of course.

Let the fireworks begin.

In addition to the fireworks on the riverbank, there is a  fireworks and laser light show on the bridge.   So, find a spot where you can see both:)

Bridge supports lit

Natchitoches turns 300 in 2014, with a year of activities.

I still love driving under this canopy of lights at the end of Front Street.

The best store!   They still handwrite tickets and you find things you just don't see other places.

Charming alleys lead to beautiful courtyards.

The children loved this toy store.

Thomas bought a gator at the toy shop.

They even arrange for snow.

Such a beautiful downtown hotel


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