Lafreniere Park will become a winter wonderland Friday when Jefferson Parish officials hold a special holiday lighting ceremony.

Holiday in the Park, at 6 p.m. in the park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, will include performances by the Jefferson Ballet, Our Lady of Divine Providence School and the Jefferson Parish Library.

The display is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Santa, Frosty and Rudolph will make appearances on Friday and Saturday nights.

The display will close Dec. 30.

“The entire exhibit is constructed with LED lights, making it energy- and cost-efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Kriss Fortunato, public information officer for Jefferson Parish. “There are several lighted displays and elaborate decorations, which complement the more than 100 lighted displays, which were donated by the Al Copeland family.”

New this year are a pirate ship in the lagoon, which measures 50 feet long and 40 feet high, a lighted paddle wheel boat and icicle lights around the Carousel and the Pavilion.

“Visitors also will enjoy lighted ‘Star Wars’ favorites C3P0 and R2D2, a ‘Despicable Me’ Minion Playground, M&M Candy people, and Olaf and Sven will be lighting the way from the popular movie, ‘Frozen,’ ” Fortunato said.

There also will be lights synchronized to music, an animated Ferris wheel, a nativity scene, holiday characters, a teddy bear factory with animated teddy bears and an illuminated replica of the Lombardi Trophy standing between two New Orleans Saints players.

Holiday performances will feature local school bands and choirs, as well as popular story times with the Jefferson Parish Library, Fortunato added.

The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle for the driving tour; the walking tour is free. Proceeds go to future light displays, improvements and maintenance. Concessions also will be sold.

Upon entering the park, traffic will flow counter-clockwise. Visitors may drive through the display along Downs Boulevard or park and walk through the display at the Pavilion and Mall Islands.

The Downs Boulevard Park entrance will close each day of the exhibit at 5 p.m. Vehicles must enter the park only from West Napoleon Avenue entrance and then exit at Downs Boulevard. The West Napoleon Avenue gate will close at 9 p.m.

While the display is open, the carousel will be open until 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A ride costs $1.

The carousel will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

And a special “snow day” for children 10 and younger will be held Dec. 12. About 50,000 pounds of snow will fall at 9:30 a.m. between shelters seven and eight inside the park. Admission is free.

A note of thanks

Kim Olsen, a fourth-grade English teacher at Marie Riviere Elementary School in Metairie, recently asked her students to write a letter of thanks as a class project during Thanksgiving week.

“One of the students, Asly Nunez, wrote her letter to the school,” said Paula Kelly, a member of the paraprofessional staff at Riviere. “We were very touched by her letter and wanted to share it.”

So, since the Thanksgiving holiday was just a week ago, I didn’t think it would be too late to share Asly’s letter of thanks as we begin to prepare for the holiday season.

Dear School,

I am so thankful that with your wonderful teachers, you teach us lots of things. I’m also thankful that you have such good teachers, students, coaches, cafeteria ladies, custodians, and such a good principal. I am thankful that you exist.

With so much love,

Asly Nunez

Club to host holiday luncheon

Colonial Garden Club’s annual Christmas luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Chateau Golf and Country Club, 3600 Chateau Blvd., Kenner.

The club’s Christmas doorway contest is Saturday. The chair for this event, Geralyn Johnson, will announce the winners and present ribbons at the luncheon.

And member Cindy Schalck will report on the amount of money donated for the St. Rita Food Pantry, the club’s philanthropic recipient.

Luncheon chairwomen are Melinda Jackson and Susan Bradley.

Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about the people and events in Jefferson Parish. She can be reached at