Christmas events looking for holiday participants

Published 1:03 am Monday, October 31, 2016


NATCHEZ — Thinking about Christmas can never come too early.

As many around town are beginning to work on Christmas shopping lists, Natchez Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debbie Hudson said she’s looking for people to sign up for two downtown events.

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First, on Friday, Nov. 25, gumbo chefs are invited to participate in the cook off for the Lighting of the Tree ceremony in downtown Natchez. The next event will be for different groups to put together floats for the Natchez Tricentennial heritage themed Christmas parade at 4 p.m. Dec. 3.

Deanna Bowser with Home Bank, the lead sponsor for the Lighting of the Tree and cook-off, said organizers have dropped the turkey requirement from previous years in hopes to get more gumbo cooks out.

“A lot of people in the past have said, ‘Gumbo isn’t turkey,’” Bowser said. “You can also cook it at home and bring it downtown to heat it up.”

The event — the Friday after Thanksgiving — has turned into a big crowd drawing occasion. Hudson said more than 600 people showed up last year to watch the tree come to life and the pyrotechnics and falling “snow” that follows.

“It is just a good, family, fun, community event,” Bowser said. “It really puts everyone in the Christmas spirit.”

The top prize for winning the gumbo cook-off is $300, and cash prizes will also be awarded for second and third place. Bowser said a panel of judges would make the selection.

A prize also will be awarded for the best decorated booth.

To sign up, visit any Home Bank location to pick up an entry form or visit or

Fresh off watching the Natchez High School homecoming parade and remembering back to Mardi Gras, Hudson said Natchez is full of talented float decorators and she hopes some will consider signing up for the Christmas parade.

Miss Mississippi, Miss Teen Mississippi USA, and NFL player and Natchez’s own Stevan Ridley have all signed up to participate in the parade.“We want to have as many people as possible — infinity,” Hudson said, laughing. “We have invitations sent out, but anyone is welcome to participate.”

The theme for the Christmas parade will be on Natchez’s heritage, recognizing the cultures and traditions of the past, as well as the important moments in the city’s history.

Hudson said to register, visit or

For more information, Hudson said to contact Kari Blaney at First Natchez Radio Group at