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ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. (WGNO) — We’re only a couple of nights away from the bonfires lighting the way for St. Nick in the river parishes on Christmas Eve.

The tradition returns after last year’s COVID cancellations and the sheriff’s office is making a few changes.

Sheriff Mike Tregre stated, “The crowds are getting bigger, and the bonfires are getting more creative and the crowds, I anticipate will be large, especially with good weather.”

In fact, the bonfires have gotten so popular that on this drizzly afternoon folks were stopping by and crossing the dangerous River Road to take pictures and see the structures before they burned. So for the first time ever, the department is instituting contraflow or one-way only traffic, hoping to keep everyone safe.

According to Tregre, “People come from all over and what we’re going to do is be westbound only from Church St. to LA 54. Everybody else that’s going eastbound, there will no eastbound traffic from that stretch.”

The sheriff says the amount of kids and elderly residents watching the bonfires is what prompted them to make the change.

We also spoke with the St. James Parish Sheriff’s office and they, too, will institute one-way traffic Friday, beginning at 6 pm. Below is a map of their plans