Look, I am doing something new!

After a dozen years of writing about St. Tammany Parish for another publication, I am happy to keep the good news flowing by offering Advocate readers a little Slice of St. Tammany each week.

Where to start? Well, ’tis the season to start with Christmas joy, and there is plenty of it out there.

The 13th annual Holiday of Lights, sponsored by the Tammany Trace, will kick off Friday at 6 p.m. at the Koop Drive trailhead, just north of Interstate 12 off La. 59.

The free event includes a 160-foot tower of lights, a variety of Christmas tree displays, rides for the kids and visits with Santa.

Various local students and choirs will perform from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Dec. 14 and 15. Karen and David Milliken of Milliken Farms will close out the entertainment on Dec. 15 when they bring Ellie the skunk and Roux the alligator to visit.

You can find the complete schedule at http://www.stpgov.org.

The Holiday of Lights will be open through Jan. 2, so stroll through and enjoy the sparkle.

In conjunction with the Holiday of Lights, the Tammany Trace is celebrating its 20th birthday with a Patron Party Dec. 6 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Koop Drive.

The Trace, which attracts 300,000 visitors each year, is one of the few rails-to-trails projects in Louisiana.

Anyone 21 and older is welcome to attend the Patron Party. Tickets are $50. For more information, call (985) 867-9490.

Meanwhile, here’s more Christmas joy in our world:


One of the city’s most magical celebrations, Christmas Under the Stars, returns to Griffith Park on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

There will be live entertainment by local organizations, holiday decorations, the Parade of Trees decorated by local groups, storytelling and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Admission is free. Griffith Park is in Olde Town Slidell, 333 Erlanger St.


Mandeville takes a trip back in time this weekend when the Old Mandeville Business Association celebrates Christmas Past on Friday and Saturday, focusing on the traditions of England, France and Germany.


When Christmas Past wraps uThe fun starts with a cocktail stroll at 5 p.m. at 2534 Florida St.

You can buy a $10 souvenir mug and stroll through Old Mandeville stopping at designated businesses for refills before ending at the Mandeville trailhead at 7 p.m. for a night of caroling and a rousing piano performance by Louisiana legend Ronnie Kole.

Things will get cooking on Saturday with the Christmas Past Street Festival.

Tents will line Girod Street from the trailhead south to Madison Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be arts and crafts for sale and two stages offering entertainment all day.

One of the highlights will no doubt be Frank Levy’s popular Scrooge Shouting Contest. A loud “Bah humbug!” is encouraged.

For the complete schedule, visit http://www.oldmandevillebiz.com/Events/Christmasp, the Christmas spirit will move down to the Mandeville lakefront at 4 p.m. for the annual Winter on the Water celebration.

Winter on the Water includes lighting of the trees, the voices of children singing, Santa giving out goodies, and a glittering boat parade.

The event, sponsored by the city, will be from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, as is the Christmas joy.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish for The Advocate Community. Contact her at klangbaker@yahoo.com.