In the Greater New Orleans area, holiday celebrations abound and are also a very popular tourist attraction. However, here locally in St. Tammany Parish, there are a few events that always draw a huge crowd and are anticipated by the residents of St. Tammany Parish every holiday season.
For those who call St. Tammany Parish home, they have always looked forward to the Holiday of Lights celebration at the Tammany Trace Trailhead on Koop Drive in the city of Mandeville. Unfortunately, this will not be the case come holiday season this year. Pat Brister, President of St. Tammany Parish government, informed residents that the two-weekend holiday celebration will be cancelled due to the lack of funds.
This free annual event was enjoyed by residents for 17 years and featured entertainment by local schools, musical and theater performances, caroling, carnival rides, pictures with Santa and a tour of the holiday lights display in the Koop Drive campus. The St. Tammany Parish government was one of two sponsors which funded the annual event that reportedly cost the parish $75,000 each season.
While this sad news might come as a surprise to the community, parish officials anticipated it as a cut to the St. Tammany Parish operating budget for 2018 which forecasts an $18 million-dollar revenue shortfall. The parish feels there is no way around the budget cut which stems from the failed attempt to renew sales taxes linked to the jail and courthouse.