Celebration in the Oaks with Merevin

Published: 12/20/14 1:24 AM in Grand Trees, Local, Merevin Wedding, North America, Travel.
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New Orleans is known for many different cultural aspects that brand the city as a giant party with great food. And despite the fact that every New Orleans resident would be happy to point you in the direction of either of those things, there is at least one lesser known characteristic of New Orleans that I revel in during the winter months. That characteristic is Christmas lights!

New Orleans really knows how to do festive holiday light displays. Whole streets will join in on the festivities of bringing their lawns to life with ornaments and lights. However the most impressive displays, as usual, are the professionally presented ones around the city such as Lafreniere Park’s Holiday in the Park (which used to be the display at Al Copeland’s House in Metairie) and City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks.

Two days before our wedding day, Kevin and I spent a night visiting City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks with my mother and stepfather. We enjoyed the crisp winter air and the sparking holiday lights.

The sign at the entry of Celebration in the Oaks in City Park.

The ferris wheel and Christmas lights at Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans' City Park.

Christmas lights in trees at Celebration in the Oaks.


The Twinkling Lights of Celebration in the Oaks

When I was young and still living in New Orleans with my family, we used to visit the Celebration in the Oaks every year to satisfy my mom’s adoration for Christmas lights. Back then we would pile into the car and drive through the ancient oak trees that line the streets within city park, all the while looking up at the lights dangling down at us. Back then the entire experience was designed to be enjoyed from your car so you would stay bundled up in the vehicle and try to snag a seat by the window.

Now-a-days the Celebration in the Oaks has completely changed from the one I grew up. Now the event leads you through the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Storyland, and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park for an on foot experience through the lights. Since you go through the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, there are also plenty of carnival rides and food stands you can enjoy.


Santa's reindeer in the oak trees at City Park during Celebration in the Oaks.

Candy Canes and Spanish Moss at Celebration in the Oaks.

The Saint's 'Who Dat?' tree in Celebration in the Oaks in City Park.


Who Dat enjoying the Celebration in the Oaks?

The expansion of the experience has resulted in many more themed light displays throughout the Celebration in the Oaks. These themed light displays cover a spectrum that includes everything from bugs and under the sea to elegant Christmas and Santa coming down the chimney. One standard that any New Orleans classic needs is an ode to The Saints, provided by the Who Dat? tree commemorating when The Saints won the Superbowl.

Although these themed displays are a little corny in nature, they are definitely meant to cater to the younger guests. Older guest will naturally be drawn to the Botanical Garden where the lights and beautiful while instilling a sense of peace.


The underwater light display at the Celebration in the Oaks.

Kevin Banogon enjoys the Christmas lights at Celebration in the Oaks.

Kevin Banogon and Meredith Lambert enjoy the Christmas lights in City Park days before they get married.

A beautifully light archway in the botanical gardens of City Park.

Kevin Banogon stands in front of the Enrique Alferez Oak adorned in lights in City Park.

The Enrique Alferez Oak draped in lights for the Celebration in the Oaks.


The Enrique Alferez Oak during the Celebration in the Oaks

As soon as you arrive in the area known as the New Orleans Botanical Garden, you will notice the sprawling oak tree that encompasses a complete section of the gardens. This is the Enrique Alferez Oak and it is one of the largest oaks in the park. Unlike the beautiful specimens that proudly reside in the Oak Alley at City Park, this resident has benefited from the regular watering and feeding it receives in the Botanical Garden. Therefore the Enrique Alferez Oak has grown from a crown spread of 112’ in 1983 to a crown spread of 141’ in 1999.

During The Celebration in the Oaks, the branches of the Enrique Alferez Oak are draped with white LED lights that announce the oak’s presence throughout the park. The oak’s crown seems to burst out from the confines of the landscaped hedges that surround it. It is as if it’s branches refuse to be tamed and strive to hold the attention of the visitors for as long as possible.


The reaching branches of the Enrique Alferez Oak draped in lights in City Park.

The long, grassy aisle of of the Botanical Gardens in City Park.

A lone statue stands under an oak tree in City Park.

A close-up shot of a statue under a lone oak tree.

A peak down the aisle of the Botanical Gardens in City Park.

Visitors enjoy the beauty of Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans' City Park.


The Botanical Gardens Come Alive with Light

During any visit to New Orleans’ City Park the Botanical Gardens provide a beautiful setting for a stroll outside. However visiting at night during the Celebration in the Oaks provides a completely different atmosphere and beauty than a daytime visit.

The lights make the entire place come alive. Suddenly the long alleyways are not just a viewport to showcase the main structure on the premises, but are instead a sight to behold themselves. The night air gives the whole place an enhanced serenity while the lights keep actively exploring the different avenues and nooks of the park.


Charlene Kristen and Hans Kristin visit Celebration in the Oaks in the City Park Botanical Gardens.

The water feature outside the main building of the City Park Botanical Gardens.

A large statue of Mr. Bingle in Celebration in the Oaks in City Park.


Mr. Bingle Makes an Appearance at Celebration in the Oaks

Mr. Bingle is a New Orleans icon that is as tied to the Christmas season in New Orleans as the Celebration in the Oaks is. For decades, the character would entertain children and parents with his jingle and holiday joy. Even though his original intent was part of a marketing strategy by the Maison Blanche department store, this guy has become a part of the local history and culture of New Orleans.

Still to this day my mother will launch into the song celebrating this iconic piece of home. So when we came across the gigantic Mr. Bingle at the end of our time in the Celebration in the Oaks, my mother was VERY excited!


The iconic santa with alligator reindeer takes off from City Park at Celebration in the Oaks.

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