There are dry spells in the news business and then there are weeks like this one. JT and staff have had no down time this week trying to keep up with the happenings. In fact, the staff has been so busy chasing leads JT nearly forgot to pen this column.

JT has been “curiouser and curiouser” about happenings on the riverfront. Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the public will get a chance to take in the beauty of the riverbank at the ribbon-cutting. JT’s favorite parts are the amphitheater and stage. It will be a showcase not only for visitors but for residents too. JT remembers his college days, a long time ago, when there was just a dirt road along the riverfront. College kids used the area as a place to park and neck. NSC freshmen were marched from the “college,” down Jefferson, to the riverbank where they were thrown into the Cane.

The boys had their heads shaved and the girls wore silly makeup and funny clothes. Those days ended when a freshman girl seriously cut her foot on a rusty can when she was tossed in the river. There will be fireworks in the downtown area and the public is encouraged to bring boats and enjoy the displays. All boats must remain behind the safety zone marked by yellow buoys until the Fire Marshal gives release.

JT reminds everyone the Church Street Bridge will close at 6:30 p.m. to vehicles and pedestrians during fireworks displays.

Nov. 18-7 pm, riverbank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Nov. 25-7 pm, riverbank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Dec. 2-6 pm, riverbank-north and south side, final safety zone restriction 4:30 pm Dec. 9-7 pm, riverbank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Dec. 16-7 pm, riverbank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Dec. 23-7 pm, riverbank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Dec. 30-7 pm, river bank-south side, final safety zone restriction 6:30 pm Turn on the Lights We deem all of our Christmas Festival events as extraordinary, but this one is really special to the Christmas Festival Committee, the City of Natchitoches and local residents. That‘s because for almost a year (construction actually began Jan. 9) the downtown riverbank has been off limits while undergoing a $4 million makeover.

Funded by the Cane River Waterway Commission and the City of Natchitoches, the new riverbank area features a state of the art Riverbank Stage and lawn terraced amphitheater seating across from the stage on the riverbank. There are now handicapped ramps constructed on the north end for access from Front Street and the steps on the south end have been reconstructed. New restrooms and a boat-docking pier are now located at the south end of the Riverbank. A new Santa Clause House is located next to the restrooms and a promenade now runs along the river’s edge.

Turn on the Holidays on Saturday, November 18, officially kicks off the holiday season in Natchitoches. All of the activities associated with Turn on the Holidays program are free to the public. There is no charge for admission to the Riverbank. From 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., Natchitoches will be abuzz with activities ushering in the Holiday season. Kids Fest will be on the south end of the riverbank along with food vendors. That area will certainly have something for everyone. The day opens with the Les Amies Christmas Treasures Arts and Crafts Sale at 9 a.m. at the Natchitoches Events Center. The popular event runs until 4 p.m. The Downtown District Business Association will host a Holiday Open House from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. The Mike McKenzie Band will kick off the three hours of musical entertainment on the riverbank stage at 4:30 p.m. The first night of the magnificent fire works displays will light up the downtown area over Cane River at 7 p.m. Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. for a two hour-set and warming up the crowd for the headline entertainer of the evening Joe Stampley.

Stampley, a Louisiana Music Hall of Famer, as a solo artist, as a member of a group, and as a songwriter, is a favorite of the Natchitoches crowd.