GARYVILLE — On Christmas Eve, 200 handmade bonfire sculptures will be set alight to guide Santa through South Louisiana.
The structures created for the centuries-old Christmas tradition include a teepee, Cajun cabins, pick-up trucks, and and other cultural motifs.
There's also an over 70-foot long alligator.
Built by families from the River Parishes, bonfires are constructed with dry woods, cane reeds and other materials. And crews work most of the year to get their designs ready for the big night.
20-year-participant Joshua Weidert tells WBRZ that planning for his massive alligator sculpture began in July with construction taking a crew of 15 people three weeks to complete.
The structure even has an operational lower jaw.
And while the masterpieces draw in crowds before the fires are lit, Weidert says that the real success is seeing the piece serve its purpose.
"Whenever we burn it, it's a celebration of our creation, all of our hard work," Weidert tells WBRZ.
The celebration gets underway at 4:00 pm on Dec. 24 along the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist and St. James Parishes.
Bonfires will light up at 7:00 pm. A fireworks show will follow to close out the night's festivities.
Shuttle pick-ups at Lutcher High School will drop visitors off at designated welcome areas along the river in Gramercy and Lutcher.
Visitors can watch the event by car along the East and West Bank River Roads of Highways 44 and 18, as well as on foot.
For more information, click here.