here's a link to an article about the Southeast Louisiana tradition of Christmas bonfires.
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GRAMERCY, La. – Just after nightfall it happens. Dozens of bonfires all along the Mississippi River light the way for Papa Noel and light up the faces of all who watch.
It’s a centuries-old tradition that’s been passed on for generations.
“Since I was a kid my father started building one with me, and now I’m building one with my kids,” said bonfire builder Paul Zeringue, Jr.
And people from around the country come to watch.
“I love Texas to death, but half the things here it’s just like so much more, you know, traditional, and family and friends, and it kind of brings tears to your eyes sometimes,” said Sandra Thurman.
It’s a tradition that brings friends and family together along the river and that many say captures the generous spirit of Louisiana, with house parties where strangers are welcome like family.
“Being able to come down here and go into any one of these houses, and you can go in. You can go in and go get something to eat right now or something to drink, whatever you need, use the bathroom – anything,” Zeringue said.
For Miranda and her sister the bonfires have special meaning this year: it’s their first Christmas Eve back since Hurricane Katrina.
“We just feel like we’re at home whenever we see the bonfires,” Miranda Theisges said. These masterpieces take days to build but burn in a matter of hours.
“Tomorrow morning there’s going to be a pile of ash still burning,” said bonfire builder Darnell Jackson.
But those who come to witness the flames pierce the night sky say it’s worth it.
“You don’t mess with a good thing,” said bonfire builder Frank Ester. “It’s a good thing they do here. I love it.”