Canal Street has long been the destination of holiday display enthusiasts, but the appearance of Maison Blanche’s Mr. Bingle in November 1948 was a defining moment. From the ’50s until the mid-’80s, 15-minute Mr. Bingle puppet shows in the department store windows entertained shoppers all day. Further up Canal Street in the 4500 block, the Centanni House’s lavish display of holiday decorations drew a steady parade of drivers from ’46-’66.
Mr. Bingle and parts of the Centannis’ displays can now be seen in City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks. Since 1984, this holiday extravaganza dazzles with its light displays, train ride, walking tour, and magical wonderlands of the Carousel Garden and Storyland.
Reveillon dinner during the holidays is a tradition almost as old as New Orleans itself. French settlers in the 1800s brought this holiday eve meal to New Orleans, where it was popular until the ’40s. Revived in the early ’90s, Reveillon is now available at many restaurants during the month of December. Indulge in one after Christmas caroling in Jackson Square. A tradition since ’46, this year’s candlelit caroling happens on December 19.
On New Year’s Eve, the traditional midnight baby drop at Jax Brewery has had a post-Katrina addition: the gumbo pot. Filled with a hot sauce bottle, crawfish, an oil derrick, a trumpet, a pelican, Mardi Gras beads and more, it’s a good representation of the things New Orleans celebrates. Fireworks and live music help usher in the New Year properly.