Creole Christmas in Natchitoches

Known as the setting for Steel Magnolias, this charming Louisiana town boasts one of the biggest celebrations in the country.

Cassandra M. Vanhooser
Creole Christmas
Fireworks explode over the Church Street Bridge every Saturday night in December.
John O'Hagan

Let There Be Light
By the time the lighting ceremony rolls around, the Belles have peeled off their boots and sit huddled together under a patchwork quilt on the banks of the Cane River Lake. They'll be ambassadors for the city of Natchitoches through the rest of the holiday season, making public appearances and posing for pictures at the Riverbank Santa House.

"Miss Merry Christmas is a big part of the community," says Jennifer Salim, the 2003 pageant winner. "For little kids, she is Christmas. We've all grown up wanting to do this. When I won, somebody told me, 'Once a queen, always a queen.' In a way that's awesome; it's a really high expectation too. I guess I'll always be Miss Merry Christmas."


This article is from the December 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.