Whenever I find myself in the environs of Baton Rouge on Christmas Eve, I head south on a little excursion on River Road following the levee on the east bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. My destination is St.James Parish, some 20 to 30 miles upriver from New Orleans. St.James Parish is home to the communities of Lutcher, Gramercy, and Paulina. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area during my college years, so this is a special place for me.
Even before I get to my final stop I look up toward the top of the levee and see wooden structures shaped like a pyramid, some 20 to 30 feet in height. The cross beams in the structure giving it the appearance of a ladder. Other neighboring parishes, Ascension and St.John the Baptist also have these wooden edifices, but none hold to this tradition as passionate as St.James Parish, counting at least 100 such structures built and all will soon be set ablaze to guide Papa Noel, on his annual Christmas Eve run to deliver presents to all who are children at heart. Continue reading Fire of Joy, ‘feu de joie’