Natchez lights up this week

Published 12:01am Sunday, November 18, 2012

A drive down Main Street last week was a slight shock to my internal clock.

Workers hunched over pieces of steel in the middle of the street could only mean one thing — the Christmas season is here!

(For a great historical account of Natchez’s downtown Christmas tree tradition, pick up a copy of the holiday edition of Natchez the Magazine).

The sight of the tree was alarming.

“Good grief,” I thought, “Where did October go?”

My internal voice quickly calmed my nerves by remembering that it’s still early in November.

That comforting thought came crashing down a couple of hours later.

At a meeting of The Democrat’s leadership team, someone brought up the need to discuss early deadlines for Thanksgiving.

“We can decide those next week,” I said.

“Next week IS Thanksgiving,” came back at me.

Oops. The holiday season seemed to sneak up on me this year, more than usual.

This week begins one my favorite times in Natchez.

The holidays are truly beautiful in Natchez.

Thankfully, a few years ago a group of local women recognized that fact and the realization that the holiday season was one of the few times of the year in which Natchez had few, if any, public events scheduled.

With a great deal of hard work and lots of bringing others on board — including the city and businesses all over town — Christmas in Natchez was born.

The event grew out of traditional holiday events, including the downtown Christmas tree and Christmas parade.

But Christmas in Natchez has added all sort of great events into the mix. Before Christmas in Natchez volunteers started working, the city had some pretty sad-looking Christmas decorations.

Now those have been replaced with much classier ones all over downtown and lights on businesses from Main Street to the Natchez Mall.

All the hard work pays off, as the city has never looked more in the Christmas spirit.

The fun officially kicks off this week with a free concert on the bluff on Thanksgiving Day afternoon, courtesy of the American Queen Steamboat Company.

That’s a new addition this year, a one-time special treat, perhaps.

The true kickoff will begin the day after Thanksgiving with shopping all over Natchez and the annual turkey gumbo cook-off from 5 to 7 p.m.

At the conclusion of the cook-off, the season comes to light when the switch is flipped on the downtown tree.

Yes, out-of-towners may think Natchez is crazy for putting a tree slap dab in the middle of a busy street, but it’s a great tradition, so get over it — and please slow down when driving around the tree.

The following Friday, on Nov. 30, the Natchez Christmas Parade gets under way. The nighttime parade is always a hit.

Somehow the parade just seems more magical at night.

Here’s hoping Natchez’s Christmas season is a safe and blessed one for everyone.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.