PHOTOS: Algiers bonfire lights the way for Papa Noel

he annual Algiers Bonfire featured a sculpture based on a traditional German Christmas Pyramid Carousel decoration powered by a windmill on top with spinning reindeer and stars at the Algiers Ferry Landing along the West Bank of the Mississippi River.

by Matthew Hinton
December 8, 2019

The annual Algiers Bonfire featured a sculpture based on a traditional German Christmas Pyramid Carousel decoration powered by a windmill on top with spinning reindeer and stars at the Algiers Ferry Landing along the West Bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

The sculpture was designed by NOLA Burners including artist Eric Arvidson and Brennan Steele. The Central Business District and the French Quarter, including St. Louis Cathedral, could be seen across the river on the East Bank. The L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker High School Marching band played before the fire sponsored by the Algiers Economic Development Foundation. A horned devil or possibly Krampus was sighted admiring the flames along with a lady with reindeer antlers.

The river was only at nine feet during the bonfire, which is nearly half the height it was at in May 2019 when the river crested to 17.25 feet, reaching flood stage. When the river was at or near flood stage, the landing area behind the river levee was completely submerged including some barricades used for the bonfire. Bonfire traditions along the river around Christmas time are meant to lead Santa Claus or Papa Noel to homes along the river. The largest bonfires occur on Christmas Eve in St. James Parish along the river levee in the towns of Gramercy, Paulina, and Lutcher.

Matthew Hinton is a New Orleans area freelance photographer whose work has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Best of Photojournalism Awards in 2014 and 2016, and by numerous awards from the Press Club of New Orleans, including the Hal Ledet President's Print Photography Award, the highest honor the Press Club can bestow upon a photographer. Matthew Hinton has previously been a staff photographer at both of the daily newspapers in New Orleans. His work has appeared nationally and internationally through freelance work with the Associated Press and AFP, Agence France-Presse.

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