Tourism council dreaming of a light Christmas

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NATCHEZ — It may be 80 degrees outside, but Christmas is already the hot topic of conversation in Natchez.

During Monday’s meeting of the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce Tourism Council, council members discussed the efforts to revamp Christmas in Natchez by having uniformed decorations and a comprehensive listing of holiday-related activities.

Regina Charboneau, who is spearheading the effort to organize “Natchez: City of Lights” for the holiday season, presented an incomplete draft of a brochure listing the planned holiday related events from Nov. 26 through Jan. 3. Charboneau said she had gathered information for many community events but was seeking more.

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“I really want to include everyone,” she said.

Some of the featured events include music from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day near the Natchez Christmas Tree and coordinating decorations on storefronts on Main Street and Franklin Street.

“This Christmas we only have the resources to take on Main and Franklin,” Charboneau said. “Next year we can work on the cross streets.”

The decorations would include lights, swags and wreaths that have already been selected.

“She has found some really great nostalgic decorations,” downtown business owner and co-chairman of the tourism council René Adams said.

Charboneau said she was pleased with the progress made on the initiative, especially since the start of the holiday season is still eight months away.

“If Natchitoches can do what they do with what they have, can you only imagine what Natchez, Miss., will be like,” Adams said

In other business:

Mike and Barbara Lomasney have been named interim directors of the Natchez Downtown Development Association after former director Carrie Lambert took a position at Natchez Community Hospital.

Barbara has been working in the finance division of NDDA.

The Lomasney couple said they will work to improve current activities as well as bring in new ways to attract people to the downtown area.

“Carrie had some wonderful ideas,” Barbara said. “Now we’ve got to get the public out to enjoy these events.”

Monday was their first day serving as interim directors, but the Lomasneys said their goal is to take some of the burden off downtown merchants during NDDA event such as First Friday events.

“There are a lot of functions that are not really promoting downtown, but instead leaning on the downtown merchants,” Barbara said during the meeting. “We need to revamp them to make them more for the merchants and building owners and less burden for them.”

René Adams and Lynn Fortenberry were named co-chairmen of the Tourism Council replacing former chairman Baxter Lee, who recently took a position with the Isle of Capri casino in Tunica.

Sally Durkin, Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau media liaison, announced that the CVB Web site — — is 45 percent complete. Durkin said because of the amount of information that is being put on the site, the process can be time consuming.

“We want the site to be so comprehensive that you could actually spend two hours on our Web site planning your itinerary,” Durkin said.

Marsha Colson announced that Spring Pilgrimage had a successful first weekend that had her being “cautiously optimistic.”

“We had good numbers over the weekend, but it is still too early to say much, but I think we may be better than the economy might be suggesting,” Colson said.

The next meeting of the Tourism Council will be April 13 at the Hampton Inn and Suites.