GARYVILLE, La. (WGNO) – We all know folks in St. John and St. James parishes take their bonfires pretty seriously, but this is one for the levee history books.
Every year, the levees of St. John and St. James parishes are lined with “teepee” styled bonfires. On Christmas Eve, they all go up in flames, a tradition that dates back more than 100 years, says Josh Weidert, one of several people behind the Blood, Sweat and Bonfires Facebook page.
Year after year, the bonfire makers try to do things that will “stand out” amid the 125 or so traditional bonfires you’ll see on the east and west banks of the levee.
That’s why Weidert and nine or 10 of his friends decided to build a giant crawfish made entirely of wood they sawed from area swamps. Like most of the other bonfire-builders, they started right after Thanksgiving and worked nights and weekends to bring the magic to life.
“Everything is made from wood we harvested ourselves,” he explains. “We take our chainsaws, go into the woods, find the prettiest trees, and put them up on the levee.”
And about those colossal claws: they have springs running down their Willow-wood backs that are attached to handles, allowing people on the ground to manually make them “pinch.”
You can see them for yourselves and maybe even get to “pinch” the claws if you’re lucky. It’s located in Garyville on La. 44 near South Church Street.
If you’d like to spend Christmas Eve on the levee, it’s recommended that you get there around 4 p.m. so you can see the sights before sunset.
The bonfires are lit at 7 p.m. sharp.