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Rockin’ around the Christmas tree: ‘Natchez family’ lights up downtown

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Jason Gray and his son Jack, 5, get a closer look at the Christmas tree after it was lit Friday night at the intersection of Main and Commerce streets. The Christmas in Natchez committee hosted the event.

NATCHEZ — With the flip of a switch and the boom of confetti cannons, Natchez kicked off the Christmas season by lighting the Christmas tree at the intersection of Main and Commerce streets Friday.

Before the lighting, the Christmas in Natchez committee hosted the fourth annual gumbo cook-off in the downtown area around the tree, and Christmas in Natchez committee member Regina Charboneau said approximately 700 cups of gumbo were sold.

The solid community turnout for the event was a harbinger of good things to come, Charboneau said.

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Ava Diamond, 6, and Mariana Vicente laugh as they throw handfuls of confetti into the air Friday night after the lighting of the Christmas tree at the intersection of Main Street and Commerce Street.

“I think that this has been a symbol for a successful Christmas season,” she said.

In the moments before Adams County Supervisor David Carter counted down to the lighting of the tree, the Rev. David O’Connor asked those present to reflect on the blessings in their lives, and to see the tree as a beacon bearing a message during the holidays.

“May this tree be a symbol of the true light we look for this Christmas season,” he said.

While the crowd waited, those present were entertained with live music and at times found themselves literally rocking around the Christmas tree.

For friends Bailey Thompson and Camille Taylor, the evening was about much more than the turning on of hundreds of decorative lights on a tree.

“This is a really cool thing to do, to come together and see our tree light up as a Natchez family,” Thompson said.

Taylor agreed, saying, “This is like a big family reunion, except we’re not all related.”

While she said she was hopeful for the future events, Charboneau said the success of the Christmas in Natchez would depend on the community, both in personal involvement and in turnout. In particular, Charboneau said she would like to see more participation from local elected officials in the events.

Christmas in Natchez events will continue throughout the holiday season, and Charboneau said the committee has made an effort to add one sustainable event onto the calendar every year.

This year’s new event will be a Christmas cabaret Dec. 14, she said.

“Our goal is for this to continue to grow and grow,” Charboneau said.

Christmas in Natchez events continue today with shopping downtown and the Longwood Jazz Dinner in the Round at 6 p.m. Tickets are required for the dinner.