Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Ryan Verret, left, of Breaux Bridge, La., lifts his son, Andre Verret, 2, to touch one of the ornaments.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Ryan Verret, left, of Breaux Bridge, La., lifts his son, Andre Verret, 2, to touch one of the ornaments.

Tree lights way for Christmas in Natchez

Published 12:08am Saturday, November 30, 2013

NATCHEZ — In recent years in downtown Natchez, the start of the Christmas season has smelled like gumbo and sounded like a confetti cannon just microseconds before the giant tree on Main Street lights up the scene.

This year was no exception, and Friday night Christmas in Natchez kicked off with bright lights, a bang of colored paper, and the savory taste of Southwest Mississippi’s favorite cold weather food.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Sophia Martin, 7, catches confetti Friday after the lighting of the Christmas tree at the intersection of Commerce and Main streets in downtown Natchez.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Sophia Martin, 7, catches confetti Friday after the lighting of the Christmas tree at the intersection of Commerce and Main streets in downtown Natchez.

The evening started off with the fifth-annual turkey gumbo cook-off with five teams vying for the title of Natchez’s best gumbo, and for the second year in a row the Cajun Cousins took the crown.

The other teams were ranked as follows:

• Second place, Rolling River Roasters

• Third place, King’s Tavern

• Fourth place, Kevin Brodeur with Natchez Coffee Company

• Fifth place, The Carriage House

The winners were chosen by those who attended the cook-off, their votes cast by placing their tasting tickets in a bowl designated for their favored cook.

Christmas in Natchez Committee Co-Chair Regina Charboneau said the cook-off sold 875 bowls of gumbo and sold out within an hour-and-a-half.

“There were some disgruntled people who didn’t get any gumbo, but we are going to try to have more next year,” she said.

When time came for the Christmas tree to be lit, the Rev. David O’Connor, pastor of St. Mary Basilica, prayed a blessing over the tree and those present, asking God that the tree would, with its light, guide those present to Christ’s light.

“May the light and cheer it grants be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts,” he said.

Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson said those who see the tree this year should take note of the fact it has been decorated with multi-colored balls rather than the red ribbons of past years.

Donations have helped fund other decorations to put a festive seasonal cover on downtown Natchez as well, she said.

“Those decorations cost thousands of dollars, and we appreciate everything and everybody who has given (for them),” she said.

“If you look along Franklin and Main streets, you will see how far along we have come in the last four years.”

The Christmas in Natchez committee was formed several years ago with the intention of making celebrating Christmas something everyone in the area can enjoy, and since then the committee has tried to fill the calendar with events for everyone.

Other Christmas in Natchez events this weekend include a Dunleith Christmas brunch and photos with Santa Sunday morning.

For more information about the Dunleith brunch, call 601-446-8500.