Benny Grunch

Benny Grunch & the Bunch

Fast forward to Christmas afternoon, and all is calm after exchanging gifts and enjoying a big holiday meal. What next? Dash over to the annual "12 Yats of Christmas Show" from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Rock ‘N’ Bowl, 3016 S. Carrollton Ave.

“They can’t do Christmas without us,” said Benny Grunch, leader of the Benny Grunch and the Bunch band.

The iconic New Orleans group has been playing the Christmas Day gig since 2005.

“We thought we’d try it after Katrina,” said Rock ‘N’ Bowl owner John Blancher. The initial holiday show brought people together after the devastating August storm. “Now, it’s a New Orleans tradition, and several hundred people come.”

Using signature Yat pronunciation, Grunch said the gig is a “giant pawty” offering colloquial T-shirts such as “Ain’t Dere No More” and "Ain’t No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day” along with CDs. Best of all, he said, it’s locals sharing tales about growing up in New Orleans.

Benny “Grunch” Antin is one of those locals. The St. Aloysius graduate said he wants fans to know he’s “still dere some more” after a medical condition led to a shunt being placed in his brain last summer to relieve pressure.

The doctors “told me in a few months I’d be normal, and no one’s ever told me that before,” Grunch said. “I’m still recuperating, but I’ve been staying active.”

Along with “The 12 Yats of Christmas,” Grunch and band members Kathy Sovoie, Alan “Alpo” Poche and Carlo Nuccio will sing holiday selections including “Santa, I Been Bad All Year,” “I Could See The Aluminum Tree Through The Pictcha Winda” and “The 8 Yats of Hanukkah.”

“My favorite is ‘Oh Little Town of Destrehan,’ ” Blancher said.

Grunch said admission is $3 and “it’s free for all da kids,” children 12 and younger.

NOLA ChristmasFest

The sixth NOLA ChristmasFest will open at 11 a.m. Thursday at Hall H of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd.

Event hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 31, except for special holiday hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25.

The hall will be filled with rides, games and activities including Bouncy, billed as the world’s tallest snowman; Snowzilla Jr., a slide with a 90-foot ramp; and Breakfast with Santa.

Also enjoy ice skating, arts and crafts and amusement rides, including the Kringle Carousel and Winter Whirl. Take a stroll through a gingerbread house, and enjoy the snowball fight area, the Snowy Summit climbing wall, the step-inside snow globe and polar golf course.

Attractions include face painting, cookie decorating and photos with Santa. Tickets are $20 for a day’s events. Military and first responders with official identification enter for $10 on Fridays. For information visit www.nolachristmasfest.com.

A special NOLA ChristmasFest preview party will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hall H of the convention center. General admission is $25. For information and to register for the party, visit www.eventbrite.com.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at jensencolumn@gmail.com.