You all made Christmas a success

Published 12:02 am Friday, January 22, 2010

I would like to thank everyone who helped to make “Christmas in Natchez — City of Lights” so wonderful this past season. Last January, just one year ago, I walked into the Natchez Chamber of Commerce office and met Debbie Hudson for the first time.

I told her I wanted to join the chamber, and I wanted to work on bringing Christmas alive in Natchez. She loved the idea, thought it was great for tourism. However there was one catch — I would have to chair the committee to make it happen. We then decided to get Regina Charboneau as my co-chair and she graciously accepted. We then were off and running, and I had no idea how fast we would be going. We had a terrific committee of 10 ladies including René Adams, Margaret Perkins, Stratton Hall, Barbara Lomasney, Melanie Trippe, Sally Durkin and Janelle Williams. We met on a regular basis at least every two weeks. Some weeks we had several meetings with public works, downtown building owners, merchants and others, in order to light-up downtown with new wreaths and garlands by the day after Thanksgiving.

Giant thanks go to Mayor Middleton, Mark Fortenberry, David Gardner, Rick Freeman, Paul Dawes and their crews who tirelessly worked with us to make this happen. In addition, I want to thank David Cauthen who spearheaded the installation of the skyline garlands that proved to be the most challenging part of the entire project. Then there is Danny Smith, who along with Ricky Cater and the rest of his crew, made the beautiful drum that surrounded the base of the Christmas tree. To James Forde, who made the bows and the city crew who put up with my placing each bow “a little to the right, a little to the left,” I am forever grateful. When we realized the star on top of the tree was broken, the crew came to the rescue, and fixed it right away.

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Then there was the discovery of the “lost” International Paper decorations. A big thanks go to Laura Godfrey for finding them, and to Mike Lomasney for tirelessly and enthusiastically repairing, reconstructing and looking after them on the bluff this year. I think many hearts were warmed by these efforts and seeing these wonderful pieces once again brought back fond memories.

And then there are our sponsors, the Natchez- Adams Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the people who sponsored wreaths, skyline garlands and donations for all the other parts of this project. I especially appreciated the faith you had in our committee, and I hope we accomplish all that you wished and hoped for. We even had help from individuals that provided proper storage to protect all the new decorations.

A major thank you to Regina Charboneau, my wonderful co-chair, whose tireless efforts helped to pull this whole Christmas in Natchez together. She was responsible for the brochure and events, and to whom I can’t say enough about. And similarly to Debbie Hudson who really made this happen.

The biggest thank you, however, goes to everyone in the city of Natchez, especially those building, home and store owners, who participated in decorating their properties and made this season truly come alive.

So what’s next? Well, more!

Our committee has already met several times and is starting to plan for the coming Christmas season. There are more IP decorations to be restored, and we are looking at decorating Memorial Park and Natchez Under-the-Hill. Our committee is enthusiastic, energetic and absolutely committed to making Christmas in Natchez even better in 2010.

If you want to “talk Christmas” come to our open meeting at Natchez Coffee at 5 p.m Monday. We want to hear your ideas and get feedback from you.

There was one moment that was for me the most special about our efforts. That was the day of the tree lighting ceremony when I walked up the steps of the old city bank building where Osgood and Blaque were playing.

I turned to take the microphone to begin the ceremony. As I looked at the crowd, there were hundreds of people there, as far as I could see, a lot more then the 40 or 50 people I had expected.

I was stunned and delighted, and for me made it made it all worthwhile.

Thank you Natchez.

Ginger Hyland is a Natchez resident and co-chair of the Christmas in Natchez committee.