Friday tree lighting to include surprise

Published 12:02 am Thursday, November 24, 2011

Natchez — Natchezians are in for a festive surprise at Friday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Main Street.

Christmas in Natchez committee member Ginger Hyland said the surprise will be unveiled just as the tree is lit, but she would not share details.

“It’s going to be a wonderful addition to the lighting of the tree, and everyone should come see it,” Hyland said.

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Friday’s festivities will kick-off at 4 p.m. with a turkey gumbo cookoff. Five dollars will buy five bowls of gumbo, and gumbo tasters will choose the winner.

Christmas in Natchez committee member Regina Charboneau said those in attendance can vote for the team with the tastiest gumbo, and the team with the most tickets wins the $200 prize.

Charboneau said she is still accepting teams for the gumbo cook-off. No entry fee is required, and all serving materials will be provided. Teams only need to bring five gallons of cooked gumbo and a burner to keep it hot.

Those wishing to enter the turkey gumbo cookoff should call Charboneau at 601-445-0338.

A disc jockey will provide Christmas music for the festivities until the tree lighting ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Hyland said the University of Arkansas was scheduled to play at the ceremony but cannot make it because of the university’s early football game on Saturday.

Ward 4 Alderman Ernest “Tony” Fields will sing at the ceremony, and programs will be passed out for everyone to join in the Christmas caroling.

Hyland said the tree lighting is a fun family event to start the Christmas season in Natchez.

“This is the kickoff for the Christmas season, and a lot of families are here together for Thanksgiving in Natchez,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way to do something together as a family to kick-off the season.”

Charboneau said seeing the tree light up is a special sight everyone should experience.

“It’s very magical, and it’s genuinely a community event,” she said. The tree lighting brings old friends and new friends together, Charboneau said, for the most wonderful time of the year.

“The beauty of Natchez is we are like a family, so this is like a social event,” she said. “It’s one of the most fun days of the year.”