Walking in a Winter Rainy-Land: Weather dampens holiday fun

Walking in a Winter Rainy-Land: Weather dampens holiday fun

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the second time this holiday season, wet conditions on Tuesday night forced City Park administrators to close Celebration in the Oaks, and the rainy weather is forcing bonfire-builders along the levee to get creative.

"We know how to deal with the weather. We started off covering with Visqueen," former Lutcher mayor and bonfire-builder Terry Borne said. "Now, we're using shrink wrap. That works pretty good and that keeps [the wood] dry."

It has been anything but dry leading up to Thursday night's event along the levees in St. James and St. John parishes. Organizers say the Lighting of the Bonfires will go on as planned, but they're keeping a close eye on conditions.

"We do have a teleconference with the National Weather Service on Wednesday just to get a better idea of the rain chances. But as of right now, they are predicting a 30 percent chance of rain, so if things go well, we will be burning Christmas Eve night," St. James Councilman Jason Amato said. 
Rain is the focus for many, but for the bonfires to rage on as in years past, wind is the condition that organizers really need to cooperate.

"As long as the wind is out of the north or not blowing from the south, we'll light them," Borne said. "But if it's blowing too much out of the south, then safety concerns take over and possibly we would not burn."

"The protection of the homeowners is important for us," Amato said. "If there is a strong south wind generally above 15 mph, then we really take a look and see if it's really OK to burn or not. As of right now, the weather forecast is saying 5-10 mph out of the southwest. It should be safe enough for us to burn."

Celebration in the Oaks will reopen Wednesday, weather permitting. City Park will post on its website at 4 p.m. if the holiday light show is canceled due to weather. Park Director of Public Affairs John Hopper said the season is set to be an overall good year, despite the two canceled days.

"It was a bit of a disappointment, but we're still looking forward to seeing it before we go," tourist Fred Bottcher said. "We'll be leaving just before the new year, so we'll be looking forward to it."

The unusually warm and wet weather is also affecting the age-old tradition of shopping.

"The weather really isn't stopping them, but we've definitely seen people feeling like they're surprised, because Christmas is in a couple of days, and I think that's because it's been so warm," Fleurty Girl owner Lauren Leblanc said.

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