Heart of Louisiana: Cajun Christmas

HOL: Cajun Christmas

MORGAN CITY, LA (WVUE) - A Christmas display in downtown Morgan City got a major upgrade this year with help from Hollywood. An Emmy Award-winning special effects artist has turned the town’s landmark shrimp boat into Christmas on the bayou.

“It looks amazing,” said Kendra Dupre. “We’re art teachers. We’re from Houma, but we’re originally from this area. It’s just amazing to see such technique. Everything is so detailed.”

The new, larger-than-life Cajun Christmas figures have taken over the town’s iconic shrimp boat, parked here in a highway median for decades. The display is a Christmas gift from Morgan City native Lee Romaire, who owns a Hollywood special effects studio.

So what made Romaire decide to upgrade his Christmas decorations?

“You know, I just wanted to do something great for the community. I’ve had such a great life and I’ve had such a great start, and it all started here. So why not do something for the city of Morgan City,” he said.

Romaire has designed figures at Disneyland. His work for TV shows has earned him an Emmy, and he was hands-on for this creation.

“Santa was one of the first things we did,” Romaire said. “I actually sculpted the face and then someone who worked for me, Russ Lukich, actually finished the beard. And from there we constructed the body. And we worked over the course of probably about a year on him, just whenever we could in between projects.”

Romaire says he got the inspiration for his friendly elves from the doll characters in Disney’s Small World. And the Louisiana-inspired white alligators are a high-tech creation.

“So we actually designed the alligators in the computer,” he said. “And we were able to take one alligator, pose it, reshape it to make all three alligators. And then we actually put that computer program into a CNC machine, actually were able to cut this out of foam.”

The real magic happens after sunset when this Cajun display comes to life.

“People are stopping and waving, and I’ve gotten so many great calls and messages on Facebook thanking me, and it’s really awesome,” Romaire said.

As a child, Romaire said he was inspired by Morgan City’s old Christmas display. Now he wants to pass it on.

“And I just hope that some kid sees this and just does something great like this for the city or for the world,” he said.

In the meantime, this jovial Santa with his boatload of helpers and white alligators are spreading Christmas cheer in Cajun country. It’s on Brashear Avenue a few blocks from the old bridge.

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