Christmas in Natchez sees success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — With the lights packed and the decorations stored, organizers hope Christmas in Natchez will linger for months to come.

The effort to light Natchez, plan Christmas events and promote the celebration to locals and tourists alike now has two years under it’s belt, and committee co-chair Regina Charboneau said this year’s celebration was a success.

“It probably brought an extra 1,000 visitors to Natchez during December, and I think that’s probably a very conservative number,” she said.

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Charboneau and other committee members are hopeful those visitors brought dollars to Natchez that will continue to turn over in the community.

This year’s Christmas in Natchez saw a few firsts, including the first Turkey Trot and the first time to light Longwood in recent years. Charboneau said 450 cars drove through Longwood to look at the lights, and the Turkey Trot was very successful as well.

The most successful event, however, seems to have been the Christmas parade, Charboneau said.

“Unfortunately I was out of town for it, but by all reports, the parade was probably the best Christmas parade ever,” she said.

Another popular event was the Carriage Candlelight and Christmas at Magnolia Hall in the Towers. Tickets for this event were $75, and the event sold out.

“Last year it was barely successful, and this year was hugely successful,” she said. “We see that trend with all of the events.”

The gala, which was another first-time event, was a break-even event, Charboneau said. But if the committee hosts it consistently, it should gain momentum, she said.

The lighting of the tree had 450 attendees, which was a decrease from last year’s 700 or 800. But this is still a substantial number when compared with the event’s early days, when 25 to 30 people attended, Charboneau said.

Charboneau’s only disappointment was in the attendance for the puppet show.

“It was such a great event,” she said. “I was disappointed that more parents didn’t take the time to bring their children to that.”

Sales tax numbers from are one indicator of the success of Christmas in Natchez, Charboneau said.

Sales tax numbers reported Jan. 15 reflect monies collected in November, which saw some early Christmas in Natchez action. November collections were $412,264, up 0.56 percent over last November’s collections. Numbers for December collections will be available Feb. 15.

The committee has already begun planning for next year, though, and will tweak the events that need tweaking. Charboneau said the committee is trying hard to involve downtown more and also to determine the best time and place for the Christmas Parade. The committee hopes to avoid upsetting downtown merchants and blocking off Main Street. To do this, they have made separate committees of downtown merchants. With more input, the committee can better manage the event, she said.

The committee has received positive feedback from the community concerning the events. Some have told the committee the lights make the town seem alive.