The forecast may have called for triple-digit temperatures, but snow flurries fell from the sky outside the Barnwell Garden and Art Center in downtown Shreveport for the 2011 Holiday Trail of Lights' kick-off luncheon. For a split second, you could almost feel Jack Frost nipping at your nose.
In years past, the Holiday Trail of Lights has covered cities in Louisiana and Texas. However, Stacy Brown, President of the Shreveport Convention & Tourist Bureau, said the holiday event needed a change and has been reinvented to feature eight cities in five regions of Louisiana.
The Holiday Trail of Lights will stay close to I-20 and I-49 this year. Brown said this change will help out-of-towners find their way to each stop along the trail.
Along I-20 from Shreveport-Bossier, the trail will head east to Minden, West Monroe and Monroe. To the south along I-49, the trail extends to long-time partner Natchitoches and new partners Alexandria and Pineville.
With its proud German heritage, Minden is starting the holiday season even earlier than most with their "Fasching, Fifth Season Festival" on November 11 and 12. This German equivalent of Mardi Gras marks the beginning of the holiday season, with thousands of lights, parades, music and historic tours.
Pattie Odom, economic Downtown Development Director, said she is thrilled to have Minden on board this year.
"We've been really working over the past few years and are committed to making Minden very beautiful and decking the halls to welcome visitors," Odom said. "We are excited to be part of this."
Odom said Minden has had Mardi Gras festivals in the past, but this will be the first time the city has a Christmas festival.
"I think people will learn a lot about our German heritage, food and entertainment," Odom said. "It's a different part of the Louisiana culture aside from the French culture. It will be a different taste of Louisiana."
Along with the new cities, the Holiday Trail of Lights has a revised logo, new creative and progressive marketing strategies that will also incorporate social media.
The 2011 Holiday Trail of Lights will officially begin around Thanksgiving and is promised to have new excitement, new events and miles and miles of holiday lights within a short drive.
For more information on the new Holiday Trail of Lights, visit www.holidaytrailoflights.com.