For those of us that grew up in central Louisiana in the Alexandria and Pineville area,
we clearly remember the images of the Christmas season.
The Alexandria City Hall was always a highlight, with its Christmas lights and tinsel, Santa Claus' red North Pole house,
the little white church, and the colorful Dancing Waters.
The animated Christmas window displays at Wellan's Department
Store on Third Street were always a major attraction.
Christmas lights were strung all around Alexandria, down Bolton Avenue and Lee Street towards City Park.
Even the water tower between Texas Avenue and MacArthur Drive was covered with lights!
We purchased Christmas trees from the Kiwanis at the Community Center at the corner of Bolton Avenue and Park Avenue, or in the median in front of Huey Long Hospital in Pineville.
Enjoy the lights, and have a Merry Christmas in 2016 and a Happy New Year in 2017!
At Mockingbird Park on Bolton Avenue, there would always be a 55 gallon barrel on the site that would be burning broken pine branches and needles. My sisters and I would warm our hands there while Mom and Dad picked the perfect Scotch Pine. The mixed aromas of pine smoke and fresh sap was as memorable as the trip to get the Christmas tree.lf.
I had my first job in gift wrapping at Wellans for the Christmas of 1959. Many Saturdays were spent at the Paramount Theater, drinking cherry cokes at Walgreens, exploring the Bentley Hotel and trying on clothes I couldn't afford.
My first employment was at Kress during Christmas holidays. I was taken upstairs to be trained on the old fashioned cash register (the kind where the drawer hit you in the stomach if you weren't quick) and I had a job for $1.25 per hour. My first pay check was spent on a cherished Thermo Jac dress from Judy's.
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One Christmas my friend and I got to turn on the Christmas lights to start the Christmas festivities. I remember the Santa house and the little church on the grounds. In those days I walked everywhere or took the city bus. As long as my friends were along, it didn't matter, it was safe.
I remember how beautiful the old City Hall was when it was decorated for Christmas, and how I loved to go to Walgreens on Murray Street for a hot fudge sundae.
I remember the old City Hall well; my father worked for the city (electrician) and he played the Christmas music from the top floor of the city hall for the Christmas parade ... so I got to help him, and see the parade and people from a fabulous view.
I was raised in Colfax from 1929 until 1941. Dad always put us in the car during Christmas time and took us to Kress to do our Christmas shopping. I bought my wedding dress at Weiss & Goldring.
I especially remember Wellan's with the Christmas windows. We would bring our children to see that every year. Life was simple back then.
I can remember standing in front of Wellan's downtown every Christmas watching the different activities that were displayed in their windows each year.
The Christmas windows at Wellan's were magical with twirling dolls and gossamer clouds. Was it actually colder on those winter nights of our youth or did it just seem so?
I remember going Christmas shopping downtown with my parents, and all of the traffic, and all of the people walking on the sidewalks. We would spend the entire day downtown, at Sears, and Kress. I loved to go to Kress because they had tons of candy that you could smell as soon as you walked in, and they sold little turtles with the plastic containers that had the little palm tree in the middle to keep your turtle in. My brother and I went through many turtles in those days. I also remember that we would go to Walgreens drug store for lunch after a long day of walking and shopping.
Today, in 2016, Christmas activities continue in downtown Alexandria with the "Holiday Magic" event, and the "Twelve Nights of Christmas" celebration held in various venues in Alexandria and Pineville.
In addition, the Alexandria Zoo's Holiday Light Safari is a popular event.
Alexandria, Louisiana City Hall, Christmas, early
1950s, with the Hotel Bentley to the right
(courtesy of Jane Norwood
and the Louisiana History Museum)