Christmas lights are already up at city hall in Gonzales and a drive-through Christmas light show is welcoming visitors at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

While many folks try to delay holiday decorating until after the Thanksgiving turkey is carved, Christmas has come to the area a bit early this year and the calendar is dotted with several activities throughout the month.

Most area holiday events are family traditions and some are new or rarely seen in Ascension Parish.

New light display

New this year is the Shadrack Christmas Wonderland at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. The two-mile long display, which began Nov. 17, runs through Jan. 7 and features a synchronized LED light show with large animated displays. The light show started as one display in Bristol, Tennessee, at Shadrack Watersports and has grown to six locations in five states.

The display is open from dusk to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It's $25 per car and $40 for activity vans and small buses.

Holiday train

Kansas City Southern is bringing its Holiday Express train to Gonzales at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 on East Railroad near Ratcliff's Florist. This popular six-car train car is covered with holiday lights outside and inside features hundreds of holiday displays. Santa and his elves welcome visitors to the free event.

Long lines wrapped around the area when the train visited Gonzales several years ago and a crowd is expected for this year's stop, which is sponsored by the Ascension Chamber of Commerce.

Gonzales celebration

Gonzales turns on its holiday light display at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 in Jambalaya Park. Gonzales-area residents are invited to visit Santa, pick up a bowl of jambalaya and watch entertainment by Center Stage Performing Arts Academy.

Santa and his elves will hand out toys to waiting children. This year's event will be held outside, weather permitting. The city's civic center, the location of previous Christmas celebrations, was closed after last year's flood and not available for the event, city leaders have said. 

Shopping at Lamar-Dixon

The Cumulus Kids and Family Christmas Expo is set for  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Admission is free for this day of shopping and entertainment. For more information, email kendra.norwood@cumulus.com.

Movie night

Also on Dec. 9, Volunteer Ascension is hosting its Christmas Movie Night at 6 p.m. in Jambalaya Park. Admission is free with the donation of a canned good. Concessions will be for sale.

"Frosty's Winter Wonderland and Mickey's Twelve Day of Christmas will Start at 6:25 p.m. Free gifts will be given to the first 50 families.

Gonzales Christmas parade

One of the most popular holiday events in Ascension Parish kicks off at 1 p.m. Dec. 10 when the Jambalaya Festival Association's Christmas Parade rolls through Gonzales.

The parade route begins at East Ascension High School along Worthey Road and continue down Burnside Avenue ending before Airline Highway.

Parade celebrations will showcase a wide variety of decorated floats featuring several parish dignitaries, Christmas music, local elementary and high school bands, dance teams, and the 2017 Jambalaya Queen.

JFA President, Wally Taillon, along with Parade Committee Members announced the grand marshal for the 2017 Christmas Parade will be longtime JFA member Frank Frederic.

Holiday brass

The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra's brass, percussion and harp sections will perform on the grounds of Houmas House Plantation and Garden from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 for a Holiday Brass concert.

For tickets, visit brso.org.

Senior Citizens Christmas party

Gonzales-area residents age 55 and older are invited to the annual Senior Citizen Christmas Party starting at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center Trademart building. A lunch will be served and dancing music provided by Kenny Fife.

Sorrento celebrates

Sorrento hosts its Christmas Celebration from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Sorrento Community Center. Santa will arrive on a firetruck and his helpers will hand out gifts to children. Jambalaya, hot chocolate and cookies will be served and the city's tree will be lit.

Parading in Donaldsonville

The Donaldsonville Christmas Parade is set to roll at 2 p.m. Dec 16. Line up starts at the baseball park. Also, Christmas Caroling will begin about 12:30 p.m. along Railroad Avenue.

Fun at the library

The Ascension Parish Library hosts several holiday-themed events. The library's annual Carols in the Courtyard starts at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Gonzales branch. 

Mrs. Claus and Jingle the Elf are taking time out of their busy holiday schedules to visit Ascension Parish libraries in December. Mrs. Claus and Jingle will lead children in songs and dances and there will be a fun craft and chance to write a letter to Santa.

Fun with Mrs. Claus programs will be held Thursday, Dec. 7, in Donaldsonville, and on Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Dutchtown. Both Fun with Mrs. Claus programs will begin at 6 p.m. This program is designed for children of all ages and their families.

Stop by any Ascension Parish Library location from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23 to color an ornament to hang on the library's children’s tree. For more information any library program, call Gonzales at (225) 647-3955, in Donaldsonville at (225) 473-8052, in Galvez at (225) 622-3339, or in Dutchtown at (225) 673-8699.